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  Construction materials and products. Investigation about embodied carbon assessment methods and solutions


   School of Science, Engineering and Environment

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  Dr Juan Antonio Ferriz-Papi  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Buildings consume 40% of energy produced in the world. This percentage increases to over 60% in the UK. In European countries, existing regulations limit operational energy consumption/carbon emissions and have brought to considerable savings. Currently, the significance of carbon emissions during the building use has reduced considerably, but other stages of the building life cycle has become more relevant in this carbon accounting, overpassing building use in some cases. Even more, the total energy consumption trend in buildings is still growing. If we want to tackle climate change challenge, we need to decarbonize all stages of the building whole life cycle and take further action to achieve net zero targets.

Construction material choices and innovation are key for this challenge. Numerous studies have been made about embodied carbon of materials in extraction and manufacturing processes (although there is still the need of many more), but most of them lack information in other stages such as construction/installation, use, maintenance, or end of life. The increase of concern on these matters brings to the development of new policies and regulations (e.g. proposed Z document in UK Building Regulations) that will support innovation and will shape the future of supply chain and new markets in the construction industry.

The proposed research tries to support this change and opens the opportunity to investigate in this field using/developing adequate methods, technologies and strategies for embodied carbon assessment of construction materials and products. Among others, the gaps identified that can form part of this project proposal are the following:

  • Development and adaptation of embodied carbon assessment methodologies for different materials and construction processes
  • Environmental data management for building whole life cycle assessment (possibility to develop digital tools) and considerations about reliability and uncertainty
  • Integration of procedures for materials choice decision making during design and procurement, and application of low carbon strategies and technologies
  • Modelling of material degradation processes and analysis of service life, together with maintenance, repair and replacement solutions and associated carbon emissions
  • Circularity assessment of construction materials and products, analysis of end-of-life scenarios and considerations in whole life carbon assessments
  • Analysis about carbon sequestration in construction materials, innovation and application to carbon offsetting for net zero solutions

This proposal is in collaboration with Energy House 2.0 project. We are seeking applicants for PhD studies with a background in construction, and strong interest in environmental issues in the sector. Other backgrounds could be considered whenever the candidate shows clear links to the construction industry in general and the proposed topic in particular. Accepted PhD students will be participating inside a new unit in Energy House 2.0 about low impact materials and processes. Strong industry links can be provided for the analysis of case studies and application of methods, theories and technologies developed.  

Architecture, Building & Planning (3) Engineering (12)

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 About the Project