Smart, circular and zero-carbon biobased construction


An opportunity to apply for a full-time PhD in the Faculty of the Environment and Technology. The studentship will be funded or part-funded by the Faculty of Environment and Technology: Ref 2022-JAN-FET10.

The expected start date of this studentship is January 2022.

The closing date for applications is 14 October 2021.

About the studentship

The construction industry needs to rapidly transform to achieve a 50% reduction in GHG emissions, become 50% quicker and 33% cheaper. These are key targets set out by Construction 2025 (PDF) a partnership between industry and the UK government to deliver a sustainable, low-carbon and profitable construction industry (UNECE, 2019).

Biobased solutions in all building and infrastructure are a way forward to meet these targets and are considered a priority by the 2030’s UK Green Building Council sector ambition statement (UKGBC, 2019). In the UK Biobased building solutions can also meet challenges identified in the Construction Sector Deal, the Clean Growth Grand Challenge and Grown in Britain (RICS 2018 & UNECE 2019) and are well suited to Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).

The proposal aims to investigate how the integrated use of state-of-the-art digital imaging, computer-simulation and data science tools can speed up the uptake of circular biobased materials to provide modern, zero-carbon and socially and economically viable solutions for the construction industry in the UK and globally. The main research questions of this proposal are:

  • How can digital engineering technologies including Big Data and Analytics, 3D photogrammetry, VR and AR be used for enabling a wider adoption of biobased materials by decision makers (e.g. architects, contractors, managers and surveyors) and end-users in new builds and refurbishments?
  • How can data science and material information databases (e.g. life cycle assessment-LCA) be integrated with digital imaging tools to generate user-friendly end-to-end biobased construction platforms within a circular economy and climate-neutral approach?
  • What are the key performance indicators (KPI) determining the wider implementation of circular biobased and digital approaches across the construction industry?
For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Dr Hector Archila (


The studentship is available from January 2022 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend of £15, 609 per annum. 

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years.


Applicants must have a good first degree or, ideally, will have a Masters. The studentship is available both for UK and overseas applicants.

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted, use the reference number 2022-JAN-FET10.

Supporting documentation: You will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application, so please have these available when you complete the application form. 

References: You will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing date

The closing date for applications is 14 October 2021.

Further information

It is expected that interviews will take place on the weeks commencing 1 and 8 November 2021. If you have not heard from us by 28 October 2021, we thank you for your application but, on this occasion, you have not been successful.

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