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  Towards Occupant-Driven Digital Twins: Integration of Semantically Rich BIM Models with Occupant Data to Optimise Building Performance

   School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society

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  Dr Eduardo Navarro Bringas  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The essence of building design and operation lies in enhancing occupant comfort and facilitating their activities effectively. Despite extensive research, including Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE) and occupant comfort studies, understanding, and integrating and applying occupant feedback to optimise current and future building performance remains a challenge.

The emergence of Digital Twins (DTs) offers a promising approach to bridge this gap by enabling real-time, evidence-based building operation and maintenance. A DT, powered by semantically rich Asset Information Models (AIM) integrated with IoT and sensor data, allows for live optimisation of building functions and system performance. While, early DT research has yielded positive results in several applications, such as energy optimisation and early system failure detection, few studies have leveraged and integrated real-time occupant data. Initial studies still outline the potential of DTs that integrate objective and subjective real-time data from occupants to optimise performance.

This project proposes to advance the DT paradigm by focusing on the integration of occupant data to enhance building performance. It aims to explore innovative methods, such as graph neural networks and indoor spatial mapping approaches, to collect and integrate real-time occupant data in relation to semantically rich AIMs. The expectation is that an occupant-centric DT will provide actionable insights into how building elements and systems influence occupant behaviours, thereby optimising building performance without compromising occupant satisfaction and effective usage.

Potential Deliverables:

  • A comprehensive review and evaluation of occupant data collection methods in the context of simulation, smart buildings, and DT research.
  • The development and empirical testing of a DT that integrates semantically rich AIMs with occupant data collection methods.
  • Small scale applications of DTs that explores the relation between building components, system performance, and occupant behaviours and perceptions.
  • The establishment of a framework to guide the development of future occupant-centric DTs.


This project is open to all students, whether home, EU or overseas.

The successful candidate will have at least an upper second-class (2:1) undergraduate honours degree in the relevant subject area and ideally a Masters Degree. We may also consider candidates who can demonstrate appropriate alternative learning such as experience gained in the workplace or professional qualifications.

We recognise that not every talented researcher will have had the same opportunities to advance their careers. We therefore will account for any particular circumstances that applicants disclose (e.g. parental leave, caring duties, part-time jobs to support studies, disabilities etc.) to ensure an inclusive and fair recruitment process.  

How to Apply

To apply you must complete our online application form.

Please select PhD Construction as the programme and include the full project title, reference number and supervisor name on your application form. Ensure that all fields marked as ‘required’ are complete.

Once have entered your personal details, click submit. You will be asked to upload your supporting documents. You must complete the section marked project proposal; provide a supporting statement (1-2 A4 pages) documenting your reasons for applying to this particular project, outlining your suitability and how you would approach the project. You must also upload your CV, a copy of your degree certificate and relevant transcripts and an academic reference in the relevant section of the application form.

You must also provide proof of your ability in the English language (if English is not your mother tongue). We require an IELTS certificate showing an overall score of at least 6.5 with no component scoring less than 6.0, or a TOEFL certificate with an overall score of at least 85, including reading 20, listening 19, speaking 20 and writing 21. Alternatively, if you have received an English-taught Bachelors or Masters degree from one of the countries listed on the UK Government Guidance under ‘Who does not need to prove their knowledge of English’, and it was obtained less than two years from your intended start date, you should provide evidence of your award that clearly states it was delivered and assessed in English language.

The primary supervisor for this project is Eduardo Navarro Bringas. Please contact [Email Address Removed] for further information or an informal discussion.

Please contact [Email Address Removed] for technical support with your application.


The closing date for applications is 22 March 2024 and applicants must be available to start in September 2024.

Architecture, Building & Planning (3) Business & Management (5) Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

James Watt Scholarship
This is a full scholarship which will cover tuition fees (Home and Overseas) and provide an annual stipend (£19,237 in 2024-25) for 42 months. Thereafter, candidates will be expected to pay a continuing affiliation fee (currently £130) whilst they complete writing up their thesis.
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