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Net zero carbon buildings

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  • Full or part time
    Prof David Coley
    Dr Stephen Allen
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Major economies including the UK and EU have recently committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Within that, the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy and Construction Sector Deal aim to halve the carbon footprint of the built environment by 2025. To achieve this, buildings will probably have to be at least net zero if not better in the long term, since other sectors may be harder to fully decarbonise.

To enable such a radical transformation, it is critical that the full carbon footprint of buildings will have to be measured and minimised during their design. Indeed, the Committee on Climate Change recently called for more assessment and benchmarking of whole-life carbon in buildings, which would guide both practice and policy making. However, conventional approaches (e.g. existing building regulations) have sought to reduce only the operational carbon emissions of buildings, such as those produced by heating and lighting. They generally ignore embodied carbon, which forms an increasingly large proportion of a building’s carbon footprint.

The £36m Active Building Centre (ABC) is major new initiative to design and deliver buildings that produce more energy than they use.

This PhD project will support the ABC by incorporating whole-life energy and carbon assessment into the design process. This will enable future Active Buildings to go beyond energy positivity during operation to become net-zero emission buildings over their whole life cycle. The project will incorporate state-of-the-art life cycle assessment methods and data into design tools under development within the ABC. This development will involve engagement with architects and building designers to ensure tools are fit for purpose.

The successful applicant will form part of a multi-disciplinary team at Bath that includes the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering and the Department of Psychology, and which forms part of the wider Active Building Centre. The supervisory team will include Prof David Coley (lead supervisor), Dr Stephen Allen and Dr Ian Walker. Queries about the projects should be addressed to Dr Stephen Allen ([Email Address Removed])

The ideal PhD candidate will have a strong engineering or mathematical background, though candidates with other strong numerate skills will also be considered. Candidates will ideally have some experience of life cycle assessment and/or experience in architecture and building design. Experience of, or strong interest in, multi-disciplinary collaboration is also desirable.


Applicants should ideally have graduated (or be due to graduate) with an undergraduate Masters first class degree and/or MSc distinction (or equivalent overseas qualification).


Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Civil Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Anticipated start date: 30 September 2019 but applications also accepted for 20 January 2020 start

Funding Notes

A UK/EU award will provide full tuition fees, an annual Training Support Fee of £1,000, and a tax-free maintenance payment of £15,009 (2019-20 rate) for up to 3 years. International applicants may apply but will need to confirm they are able to fund the difference between UK/EU tuition fees and OS tuition fees.

How good is research at University of Bath in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 28.38

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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