Leading sustainability firm CPW is celebrating first place at the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) West Midlands Awards, with its prestigious National Brownfield Institute (NBI) – part of the University of Wolverhampton – winning the Project of the Year Award.

In 1978 Tony Couch, Gordon Perry and Geoff Wilkes founded CPW as they set up operations in a small office in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Over 40 years later, and after a succession of growth periods, CPW has established a strong presence across the UK as a leading environmental building services consultancy. Now counting offices in Nottingham, Leicester, Cambridge, Leeds, London, and Manchester, as well as an international presence in Poland and India.

The CIBSE West Midlands Awards recognise the people, products and projects that demonstrate engineering excellence in the West Midlands. Winning submissions are based on measured outputs, with low energy buildings and efficient energy performance drivers for success.

The £14.875m NBI project took 12 months to complete and has resulted in a world-class educational and research facility focusing on the practical application of future brownfield regeneration. CPW delivered the mechanical and electrical engineering, with the design team ensuring the final building achieved the top energy efficiency rating – EPC A – lowering energy costs for the University and contributing to its sustainability goals.

The 12-acre Springfield Campus is already home to the Thomas Telford University Technical College, Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills and the School of Architecture and Built Environment. These facilities, combined with the NBI, will deliver a National Centre for Sustainable Construction and Circular Economy, which will focus on sustainability and the climate change emergency.

Antonios Agapakis, a director from CPW, said: “Winning this prestigious CIBSE West Midlands award is a testament to our commitment to delivering low-carbon, energy efficient buildings that offer state-of-the-art technology.

“We’re proud to have delivered this world-class facility and be recognised for our efforts to bring sustainability into the heart of educational institutions. We developed a flexible design that would adapt to meet the needs of the client and users now and in the future, maximising the lifetime and usability of the space. The Institute will put the West Midlands region at the forefront of sustainable building and brownfield development.

“It was a great team effort, collaborating with colleagues from Faithful+Gould, Associated Architects, ISG and Atkins, as well as the University of Wolverhampton to produce this award-winning institute.”

Simon Kendall, director from Faithful+Gould, said: “It was great to have CPW as part of the team. They took the time to understand the University’s requirements and aspirations, and to liaise closely with the university’s Estates Team to ensure that the National Brownfield Institute set the benchmark for future projects.

“CPW rose to the challenge to meet the design aspirations within a finite budget, ensuring that the whole team understood the impact on the energy performance of the building of any design development considerations.”

Regenerating brownfield sites is crucial to ease the UK’s housing crisis by increasing the accessibility of industrial land for housing developments, particularly in cities with high levels of disused brownfield sites.

Accelerating the development of brownfield sites, which are often seen as too expensive and too complicated to warrant development, will help to protect green belt areas and support biodiversity efforts, which is more important than ever in the ongoing climate crisis.

The University specifically will benefit from this international exposure, with a likely increase in leading researchers making use of the facilities. This project has been recognised for its potential to bolster the UK’s housing supply in a more sustainable way to tackle both the housing and climate crises, and for embedding these sustainable principles in its very design.

Picture caption (from left to right): Antonios Agapakis, Director, CPW; West Midlands Combined Authority Mayor Andy Street; and Warren Jukes, Director, Associated Architects.