CIOB Innovation and Research Awards

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) recognises that the health of their sector relies on innovation, research, and continually improving how things are carried out. Innovation is therefore at the heart of what the CIOB does, whether it is driving up standards, improving efficiency or helping their members achieve new levels of sustainability. Every year, the CIOB holds its International Innovation and Research (I & R) Awards. The Awards celebrate achievement across the built environment, from academic research to industry innovation. Their focus is to highlight the importance of innovation and research in raising performance levels, enhancing best practice and improving the quality of the built environment. The I & R Awards also encourage the brightest industry newcomers: the recent graduates and postgraduates who are already making a valuable contribution and could lead on innovation in the future. The Awards are the only built environment awards that recognise and promote the achievements of individuals, rather than project teams or companies.

The International I & R Awards are open to all CIOB members or non-CIOB members and overseas institutions. Submissions can cover any built environment-related area and clearly demonstrate the benefits of research and innovation in practice. There are six categories within the CIOB’s Awards. These celebrate the diverse range of ideas within the built environment, from those that germinate in academia to those that are applied within the industry. For each category there are three levels of awards – the highest ranked Premier Award, the Highly Commended, and the Merit Award.

The winners of the 2014 CIOB International Innovation and Research Awards are publicised by the CIOB in the first quarter of 2015 and will be announced in the 101st edition of Innovation & Research Focus. The 2013 winners were decided by a judging panel of 18 leading figures from both academia and industry.

In the Undergraduate Dissertation Award Category of the 2013 CIOB I&R Awards all three winners came from the National University of Singapore. The winner of the Premier Award, Yu Quian Ang, conducted research on Building Information Modelling (BIM), a tool perceived as the next-generation solution to enhance productivity of the construction industry holistically and to streamline the delivery process of buildings and structures. Yu Quian claims that it is integral for a company to establish an efficient link between the core competencies of its practice and the use of BIM to derive benefits.

In the ‘Innovation Achiever’s’ category the winner of the Premier Award went to Craig White and Finlay White from ModCell Ltd. ModCell is the name of both their company and product – a prefabricated straw bale wall and roofing system. The product and Craig and Finlay’s work was commended as a highly innovative idea, which showed strong application and a clear commercial viability. The prefabricated straw bale wall and roofing system was recognised as one of the first products to make large-scale, carbon-positive building techniques a commercial reality. The system encapsulates the excellent thermal insulation qualities of straw within modern methods of construction. ModCell panels are solid glulam timber frames filled with straw that can be either lime rendered or dry-lined. The panels are fully engineered and load bearing. They are manufactured locally and are suitable for use in low and medium rise structures. Using renewable, locally sourced, carbon absorbing materials, a ModCell enables the creation of super-insulated, high-performance, low energy ‘passive’ buildings. The result is a less-than-zero carbon construction system.  

ModCell Core Panel under assembly, designed for use in offices, schools, housing and commercial buildings - winner of the 2013 Innovation Achiever’s Award

One of the more unique award categories of the six is the ‘Innovation in Education and Training’ category. In 2013 the winner of the Premier Award was Dr. Fred Sherrat whose work was based around teaching construction health and safety. Dr. Sherratt acknowledged that health and safety can be problematic to teach as students often struggle to engage. To overcome this issue Dr Sherrat introduced Problem-Based Learning (PBL), replacing lectures with problem-solving tasks in which students explore and research scenarios in small groups. Through the PBL process, the students quickly engaged with the subject material and were soon able to understand the importance of health and safety to construction, and how they play a significant part in its management. Analysis of attitude questionnaires, administered before and after PBL, found significant improvements in student understanding, suggesting that PBL is a highly effective tool for health and safety learning in the built environment.

After the 2013 Awards had been presented, Professor Stuart Green, Chair of the Judging Panel, said, “It has been immensely gratifying to see the highest ever number of entries to the CIOB International Innovation & Research Awards 2013. I have also been delighted with the overall quality of the applications across all categories. Especially rewarding this year was to see so many strong entries from industry in the innovation categories.”

For further information please contact Dr Chung-Chin Kao, Innovation and Research Manager, the Chartered Institute of Building (E-mail:


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