PhD Position in Social and Environmental Sustainability of Building Renovations at KU Leuven, Ghent, Belgium

Closing Date: October 2, 2023
Job Category: PhD student
Location: Ghent, Belgium
University: KU Leuven
Department: Department of Civil Engineering
Faculty/Division: Building Physics and Sustainable Design group


The Building Physics and Sustainable Design research group of KU Leuven offers a PhD position for research on Social and environmental sustainability of renovations. The research group carries out performance analysis of buildings on different scales, from materials and components to the whole buildings in their environment. The proposed PhD position particularly addresses the research area related to “Methods for holistic design, construction and operation of high performance buildings”. The research group is composed by more than 20 people, among PhD students, post-docs and professors. They can rely on a solid research infrastructure, an extensive international network, connections with companies and no-profit organizations, and a supportive work environment. The PhD position is based at the Ghent Campus of KU Leuven. This PhD position is under the supervision of Prof. dr. Chiara Piccardo in the Building Physics and Sustainable Design group.

The existing building stock plays a pivotal role in the transition towards a sustainable built environment. The energy efficient renovation of existing buildings can significantly contribute to achieving a net zero energy and carbon Europe by 2050. However, renovations are not only a strategy to reduce the energy consumption but also an opportunity to improve environmental sustainability, affordability and well-being in existing buildings. This PhD position helps address this opportunity.

While policy instruments and energy codes mainly focus on the reduction of energy consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions, the social and environmental impacts and benefits of energy efficient renovations are currently neglected. Comprehensive methods and instruments to assess the social and environmental performance of renovation measures are lacking.

In this PhD project, you will develop a comprehensive framework to assess the social and environmental performance of energy efficient renovations of residential buildings. Attention will be paid not only to the energy and environmental aspects but also to the social aspects of renovations, such as habitability, affordability, accessibility of materials and services. You will analyse social and environmental aspects of renovations using both quantitative and qualitative research methods, with particular attention to novel methods such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA). You will administrate surveys to local communities and authorities in order to gather data and increase the knowledge on social and environmental aspects of renovations. You will test the assessment framework through a set of scenarios using simulation software, as well as through case studies. This research aims to clarify the social and environmental impacts and benefits of energy efficient renovations and, at the same time, to define a novel framework to assess them.

More information & application procedure on this website.