KU Leuven

PhD Position in Social and Environmental Sustainability of Building Renovations

2023-10-02 (Europe/Brussels)
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KU Leuven is an autonomous university. It was founded in 1425. It was born of and has grown within the Catholic tradition.

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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.
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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.



We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with the following attributes:

  • a Master’s degree in Architecture, Civil Engineering Technology or Civil Engineering;
  • a knowledge of energy efficient and sustainable building technologies;
  • a knowledge of sustainability assessment methods (for example, LCA);
  • a strong interest in the subject of the PhD position, also demonstrable through e.g. previous education, job experience or volunteer work;
  • scientific research attitude and creative mindset;
  • well-developed written and oral communication skills in English;
  • excellent time management skills with the ability to meet deadlines;
  • a demonstrable ability to work both independently and as part of a team.




Experience in one or more of the following areas is a plus: life cycle assessment, building energy modelling, BIM and computer graphics. Experience in publishing research papers in peer-reviewed journals is also a plus.


We offer a contract of two years for a full time PhD position starting on December 1st 2023 (negotiable). This contract can be extended. The start of the PhD is subject to an academic approval of the candidate.

Ample occasions to develop yourself and to grow as a researcher professionally in a highly ranked university. Doctoral training for PhD candidates is provided by the KU Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School (https://set.kuleuven.be/phd), known for its strong focus on both future academics and scientifically trained professionals who valorise their expertise and competences in a non-academic context. More information on the training opportunities can be found via the following link: https://set.kuleuven.be/phd/dopl/whytraining.

An international work environment with dedicated colleagues, situated in the hearth of Europe. The Ghent Campus is a welcoming facility located a few minutes away from the historical centre of the city of Ghent.

Further information can be found on the website of the university: https://www.kuleuven.be/english/life-at-ku-leuven



Applications should be submitted through KU Leuven’s online platform with:

1. detailed Curriculum Vitae,

2. a motivation letter of max. 2 pages, including a description of your research interests, your background and expertise in relation to the required attributes,

3. BSc and MSc degree transcripts attached,

4. names and contact information of two references.

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Chiara Piccardo, tel.: +32 9 310 25 37, mail: chiara.piccardo@kuleuven.be

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.

Job details

PhD Position in Social and Environmental Sustainability of Building Renovations
Oude Markt 13 Leuven, Belgium
Application deadline
2023-10-02 23:59 (Europe/Brussels)
2023-10-02 23:59 (CET)
Job type
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