KU Leuven

PhD-Student "Subjective indoor air quality (IAQ) assessment in buildings during disruptive events"

2024-07-26 (Europe/Brussels)
Save job

About the employer

KU Leuven is an autonomous university. It was founded in 1425. It was born of and has grown within the Catholic tradition.

Visit the employer page

The Building Physics and Sustainable Design group in the Department of Civil Engineering at the Ghent Campus has 4 research lines:
1. Energy performance and indoor climate (SDG 7, 13): Interaction building and HVAC systems
2. Technology of renewable construction materials (SDG 12): timber construction and use of organic fibres
3. Community scale sustainability & sustainable development (SDG 1, 3, 11): social and ecological sustainability of buildings and communities
4. Methods for holistic design, construction and operation of high performance buildings: Circular bio-based construction industry (SDG 9, 12), Life cycle analysis (SDG 12), Building Information Modelling - Improved process management, Commissioning, building management and monitoring

This job vacancy is situated within the 1st research line.
This PhD will be supervised together with prof. Pawel Wargocki and assistant prof. Mariya Petrova Bivolarova from the Department of Environmental and Resource Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Sustain)

Website unit


With climate change events (e.g., heatwaves) and disruptive events (e.g., power outage) becoming more frequent and severe, the research line at the Building Physics and Sustainable Design group, Ghent Campus has been focusing on establishing resilience as a performance characteristic of buildings and systems and development assessment frameworks and indicators. 

We define thermal resilience as the ability of buildings to withstand over or underheating events (e.g., heatwaves or cold snaps) and IAQ resilience as the ability to withstand excessive pollution events (e.g., outdoor pollution) - all while maintaining habitable conditions. 
At the moment, we are investigating the interdependency between thermal and IAQ domain resilience performances during concurring thermal and IAQ disruptive events. 
The focus of that research remains on objective IAQ assessment (i.e., a fixed threshold of concentration of pollutants). However, just like thermal comfort, IAQ is a subjective response that varies from one person to another. So far, in the literature, there haven't been many studies investigating the impact of concurring thermal and IAQ disruptive events on the subjective IAQ response and occupant wellbeing.  
That leads us to the following research questions that willbe investigated in this PhD-research:
  • How much is occupants' subjective assessment of IAQ impacted by concurring thermal and IAQ disruptive events? (i.e., impact on occupant wellbeing, sick building syndrome, etc.)
  • What is the impact of personal and contextual variables during these disruptive events? 
  • How do IAQ tolerance levels vary among individuals? 
  • Which intervention strategies (e.g., smart control of HVAC systems, personalized HVAC systems, behavioral adaptations) can help reduce IAQ dissatisfaction during disruptive events?


  • You obtained (with minimum distinction) a Master's degree in Civil Engineering Technology or a Master's degree in Engineering Sciences with a speciality in Civil Engineering or Architecture
  • You have fundamental knowledge in heat and mass transfer, fluid dynamics and in HVAC systems. 
  • You are interested in thermal comfort and IAQ in buildings. 
  • Expertise in this research field and specifically in climatic chamber experiments with human subjects and statistical analysis is a plus. 
  • You are motivated to write an application for a grant for a PhD fellowship for strategic basic research at FWO (see https://www.fwo.be/en/fellowships-funding/phd-fellowships/phd-fellowship-strategic-basic-research/)
  • Excellent communication, writing and presentation skills and a good knowledge of English are crucial. 
  • You have a strong analytical ability and a sense of synthesis.
  • You can work independently, but also well in a team and show sufficient initiative.
  • You are motivated to execute a part of your research at Technical University of Denmark as visiting PhD-student


We offer 100% employment for 2 years. In order to obtain funding for the full PhD-period of 4 years, the candidate is expected (with the support of the supervisors), to develop an application PhD fellowship for strategic basic research at FWO (see https://www.fwo.be/en/fellowships-funding/phd-fellowships/phd-fellowship-strategic-basic-research/).


For more information please contact 

dr. ir. Douaa Al-Assaad, mail: douaa.al-assaad@kuleuven.be 
prof. dr. ir. Hilde Breesch, mail: hilde.breesch@kuleuven.be 

KU Leuven strives for an inclusive, respectful and socially safe environment. We embrace diversity among individuals and groups as an asset. Open dialogue and differences in perspective are essential for an ambitious research and educational environment. In our commitment to equal opportunity, we recognize the consequences of historical inequalities. We do not accept any form of discrimination based on, but not limited to, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, ethnic or national background, skin colour, religious and philosophical diversity, neurodivergence, employment disability, health, or socioeconomic status. For questions about accessibility or support offered, we are happy to assist you at this email address.

Job details

PhD-Student "Subjective indoor air quality (IAQ) assessment in buildings during disruptive events"
Oude Markt 13 Leuven, Belgium
Application deadline
2024-07-26 23:59 (Europe/Brussels)
2024-07-26 23:59 (CET)
Job type
Save job

More jobs from this employer

About the employer

KU Leuven is an autonomous university. It was founded in 1425. It was born of and has grown within the Catholic tradition.

Visit the employer page