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Life Cycle Assessment of Timber Use for Construction

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, April 01, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

University of Limerick is one of several European partners in the BenchValue project (, which is funded by EU FP7 ERA-Net Sumforest. It is well documented that renewable wood-based materials reduce GHG emissions in the construction sector. Modern wood product technology allows for the design of even high-rise buildings which are durable and pass strict fire regulations. In practice, however, the uptake of wood construction is very limited. A partial explanation is that the availability of sustainability assessments pertaining to renewable raw material value chains is limited, and where existing, are rarely comprehensive; mostly focusing on specific products and often lack benchmarking against use of non-renewable materials. Furthermore, decision makers (e.g. in public procurement) have difficulties understanding scientific results as they only give partial or even conflicting answers.

BenchValue will address these shortcomings by expanding the Tool for Sustainability Impact Assessment (ToSIA) with a method for benchmarking wood material value chains against mineral and non-renewable value chains, e.g., concrete and steel. ToSIA is an established and objective method for analysis and comparison of forest-wood-chains. In addition to leading the work package on case studies in five European countries, University of Limerick, in collaboration with NUI Galway, is conducting a case study in Ireland that will assess the sustainability of timber construction against the benchmark of conventional construction using metrics developed in BenchValue.

This MSc student will work on two tasks (i) a literature review on the potential role of wood construction in the Irish bio-economy (ii) conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) based case study of timber frame construction at the eco-village in Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary, Ireland.

Essential criteria

Applicants should have a good primary degree (First or Second Class Honours) or M.Sc. in an appropriate discipline (Forestry, Environmental Science, Environmental Engineering, etc.). A full EU driving licence is also required. Desirable criteria A familiarity with the construction industry, timber use for construction, and Life Cycle Assessment methodology would be a distinct advantage. Data mining and analysis, information literacy, oral, written and graphical communication skills are also important to this role.


The student will be based and registered at the Department of Biological Sciences in the University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland and work under the supervision of Dr. Ken Byrne (University of Limerick) and Dr. Jean O’Dwyer (University College Cork). The Fellowship will start as soon as possible after 1st of April 2019 when the most suitable candidate is appointed. The fellowship provides an annual stipend of €16,000 plus fees for 1.5 years.

Application Procedure

Submit an electronic copy of Curriculum Vitae in pdf format and a letter of interest to:
Dr. Ken Byrne ()

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