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Environmental impact of housing and infrastructure


Civil Engineering

About the Project

Environmental impact of housing and infrastructure is a long-term concern that needs to be addressed holistically. Currently civil engineering projects are primarily led by construction costs and the environmental impact is rarely considered as a deciding factor. Low-cost construction however often results in low-quality with high maintenance costs and large environmental impact during the life of the structure.

The project looks at the environmental impact of stone in comparison with other construction materials (concrete, steel, timber, brick) over the life of the structure (material production, construction, use, service life, maintenance, recycling/reuse of materials). There is extensive literature on the environmental impact of modern construction materials but limited data on stone houses and structures. Environmental impact will also be linked to life expectancy that varies significantly for the different materials. For example, steel-frame buildings may be designed for 100-200 years while stone buildings for several hundred or thousands of years.

Stone is not used for new construction at the present. Stone structures have however proved to be the most sustainable, resilient and long-lasting throughout the history. While their construction costs may be somewhat higher (ca. 30-50% higher), their maintenance costs and environmental impact are around 60% lower than other construction types. Stone structures also retain their economic value far better than other materials and create additional value for the locality, making them economically viable alternatives.

The project is part of a wider scheme of reintroducing stone into new construction. By combining digital technology with the well-established benefits of masonry construction (sustainability, resilience, low life-cycle costs) ’Digital Stone’ will offer the most advanced and sustainable alternative for new housing and infrastructure.

Funding Notes

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: View Website. Recently the UK Government made available the Doctoral Student Loans of up to £25,000 for UK and EU students and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.)

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