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Understanding the relationship between resource consumption and development levels

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, March 01, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to address key global challenges to achieve a sustainable future for all. However, whilst the goals are linked, the interdependencies between some of them are unclear, meaning there could be tensions in achieving all goals simultaneously. One key example is the relationship between social development and resource consumption, and the impact this consumption has on climate change. Understanding this relationship is essential to identify the type of resources and best practice currently utilised to provide basic human needs. From this, options can be explored to further reduce this resource consumption and associated climate change impacts. This understanding is crucial to enable systematic development within the carrying capacity of the planet.

The project will focus on quantifying construction materials required for housing and key infrastructure, comparing this to development levels. This will be done through the development of a novel multi-scale framework which will combine two isolated methods: building stock material flow analysis (MFA) [1] and urban scaling methods [2]. The framework will be applied at neighbourhood, city and regional levels to understand how the independent variables and relationship between them vary across scales. The work will bring about novel insights in achieving the SDGs through a new hybrid method. It will be applied to representative areas in UK and India to test applicability in a developed and developing context.

The study will develop an adapted version of Brelsford’s development index [2], mapping this geo-spatially across the UK and India to understand development heterogeneity. The UK and Indian census data will be utilised as starting points for input data, with additional data sets also explored. The resource consumption element of the study will utilise an MFA approach, using a bottom up approach to assess typical residential typologies, and key infrastructure types. Use will also be made of the 2011 Indian Census, which includes some information on building materials. The resource consumption and development index will be cross-referenced and explored in detail across several representative cities in the UK and India to develop an understanding of the relationship between the two and for the first time attempt to quantify this.

Next steps of the work will then explore how use of alternative resources could reduce the carbon footprint of development - and explore different ways in which sustainable development could be achieved in both countries - comparing and contrasting current and potential practices.

The successful applicant will join the successful and friendly RISE – Resources, Infrastructure Systems and built Environments group in the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering and also benefit from co-supervision from the Urban Institute.

Funding Notes

UK/resident EU applicants: Fully funded PhD plus maintenance award (£14,553 pa in 2017/18) for three years.
EU applicants: Non-resident EU students eligible for fees only award.

How good is research at University of Sheffield in Civil and Construction Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.80

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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