PhD position – Ecologically constrained building design: What can we build from the zero-carbon resource pool?

About the Project

The department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at the University of Bath is inviting applications for the following fully funded PhD project with an enhanced stipend of £24,000 per year, expected to commence in October 2022. Another start date may be possible if agreed with the supervisory team.

Project Supervisory Team

Dr Will Hawkins, Prof Tim Ibell (University of Bath), Kelly Harrison (Whitby Wood)


Decarbonising the supply of today’s construction materials relies on breakthroughs in carbon-capture and green hydrogen technologies, neither of which have shown to work economically or at-scale. As such achieving a truly zero carbon property and construction industry will more likely be based on building less, re-using and improving what we have got, understanding limitations and opportunities in regulation, and a fully circular materials market.

This wide-reaching project will decipher this problem by determining the sustainable supply of building materials – the ‘resource pool’ – in a zero carbon circular economy. The key barriers and opportunities to achieving this will be identified, and resources developed to change the industry approach as a whole.

We might initially ask whether the UK’s current buildings are able to serve our growing population and changing needs. To what extent can they be adapted, extended or repurposed, and how might cities be planned around this principle, rather than demolition and re-build? What new materials are needed, and could these be supplied sustainably?

This analysis will identify barriers to be overcome to create a zero-carbon built environment. These may include insufficient archive information, costly and intrusive investigation techniques, or a lack of expertise and awareness of historical buildings. Today’s supply of low carbon or recycled materials may be inadequate, or inefficient. What opportunities do these reveal, and what might we learn from developments across the globe?

To explore these challenging questions, we are seeking enthusiastic candidates with a passion for sustainable construction and a drive to engage with industry and achieve impact.

This project is co-sponsored by Whitby Wood and The Whitby Bird Foundation, both organisations are committed to finding zero carbon solutions to structural engineering designs.

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