Built environment and construction project wins technology award

A Birmingham City University (BCU) project offering research and development, training and services to businesses involved in the construction and built environment industry has picked up an award at the annual West Midlands Tech Awards.

Posted 16 December 2022

Left to right - Dhoyazan Al-Turki (Software and AI Engineer, BCU), Dr Shadi Basurra (Senior Lecturer, BCU), Atif Azad (Reader in Evolutionary Computing and Machine Learning, BCU) and Nouh Elmitwally (Lecturer in Data Science, BCU)

Celebrating tech and innovation  

The EcRoFit initiative, led by Dr Shadi Basurra, clinched the Property, Tech and Construction accolade at the West Midlands Tech Awards, which was held at the Millennium Point building on Thursday 15 December.

The Awards celebrates institutions, businesses, startups and entrepreneurs using tech and digital innovation to transform their organisations.

EcRoFit stemmed from BCU’s response to the UK Government’s desire to address the poor energy efficiency of homes. Partnering with Beattie Passive and other industrial partners, BCU retrofitted three houses and 12 flats.

Following that, EcRoFit has also delivered fully funded courses offering businesses the opportunity to improve their data analytics skills, as well as creating a software tool that will support a UK-wide shift to a low carbon model.

Improving health, wellbeing and knowledge

EcRoFit was successful in clinching the award due to the impact it has made in such a short space of time.

Their work with Beattie Passive has helped the latter to reduce costs and address the construction shortage by involving local housing providers in the building process.

It has also helped to improve the health and wellbeing of residents, while also having a positive impact on the environment through a reduction in energy use of around 85 percent.

The courses have also received praise from businesses that have taken part.

“The course enabled onboarding of knowledge and tools to support our members in their future work,” said Midland Energy Professionals, who took part in a two-day course.  

“I found (their) awareness of commercial needs, technical prowess and enthusiasm of delivery to be highly relevant. The insights delivered were of significant interest.”

Recognition for an exciting and impactful project 

EcRoFit has seen a 22-strong team join forces to make positive change, and it's that team effort that Hanifa Shah, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment at BCU, was keen to acknowledge.

"Shadi's team is drawn from the experts that we have in in the CEBE faculty in key areas of data analytics and artificial intelligence, built environment and construction," she says.

"Their exemplary collaboration with the construction and energy supply chain has led to innovative products and services to support businesses that are helping make houses more energy efficient.

"I am delighted that they have received this award for this exciting and impactful project."

Shadi himself was immensely pleased at clinching the award and believes the accolade will yield stronger impact and wider recognition.

"The award will give the team a positive boost in showing how Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technologies can radically impact the environment sector in the UK, which is slightly lagging behind when compared to other sectors such as finance and health," he says.

"EcRoFit aims to enhance energy assessment tools to offer effective and sustainable Net Zero solutions to buildings that can also withstand drastic climate changes due to global warming."