PhD Position in Renovation and Decarbonization of Buildings

Organization: KU Leuven
Location: Technology Campus of Ghent
Duration: PhD position for 1 year, starting October 1st 2022 (negotiable). After positive evaluation, the PhD position will be extended for up to 4 years.
Deadline: 2022-06-30
Description: The Building Physics and Sustainable Design research group of KU Leuven has a fully funded PhD position available for research on Renovations and Decarbonization of Buildings. KU Leuven is a highly international university that ranks among the best in the world in terms of research and innovation. It is spread over several campuses in Flanders (Belgium), with the Building Physics and Sustainable Design research group located at the Campus of Leuven (Arenberg) and also at the Technology Campus of Ghent. Currently, 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 research group carries out performance analysis of buildings on different scales: materials, components and whole buildings in their environment. The research can be grouped into four research areas: energy performance and indoor climate; technology of renewable construction materials; community scale sustainability & sustainable development; methods for holistic design, construction and operation of high performance buildings. This PhD position is under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Chiara Piccardo in the Building Physics and Sustainable Design group, concerns the research areas “Technology of renewable construction materials” and “Methods for holistic design, construction and operation of high performance buildings” , and is based at the Technology Campus of Ghent.


The existing building stock plays a pivotal role in the transition towards a sustainable built environment. In the next decades, building renovations are expected to increase contributing to achieve carbon neutral objectives in Europe, according to the EU Renovation Wave Strategy.

The increased number of renovated buildings expected in the next decades suggests that renovation interventions may have a great impact on housing quality, as well as on the entire renovation supply chain. Therefore, the orientation of new renovation interventions may be crucial not only to comply with climate mitigation targets but also to pursue other challenges in the construction sector, such as resource scarcity. Thus, renovations can be an opportunity to enhance the use of low carbon technologies and circular economy strategies in existing buildings.

In this PhD project, you will investigate how to optimize the sustainability levels of building renovations through advanced materials and construction techniques with a special attention to low-carbon bio-based materials. You will assess the performance of renovations in a life cycle perspective according to the three domains of sustainability, e.g. environment, economy and society. Life-cycle based assessment methods, such as Environmental Life Cycle Assessment (E-LCA), Life Cycle Cost (LCC), and Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) will be adopted. Possible trade-offs between environmental, economic and social performance of materials and construction techniques for renovations will be investigated. On one side, the research aims to clarify the role of low carbon materials such as bio-based materials (e.g. wood, cellulose) and circular materials in sustainable renovations. On the other side, the research is challenged by the definition of appropriate methods for the assessment of sustainability in renovation.
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