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Socio-environmental assessment of energy renovations of residential buildings (ref. BAP-2023-256)

The Building Physics and Sustainable Design research group of KU Leuven offers a PhD position available for research on Socio-environmental assessment of energy renovations of residential 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 divided in two units located at Group T Leuven Campus (Arenberg) and Ghent Campus, respectively. The PhD position is based at the Ghent Campus.

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, and concerns the research areas 'Community scale sustainability & sustainable development' and 'Methods for holistic design, construction and operation of high performance buildings'.Website unit


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 achieve carbon neutral and social objectives in Europe by 2050. However, energy efficient renovations are also expected to improve the performance of existing buildings in different domains i.e. environmental sustainability, affordability and well-being. The socio-environmental benefits of energy efficient renovations are currently underestimated by policy instruments and energy codes that mainly focus on the reduction of energy use and related greenhouse gas emissions. Comprehensive methods and instruments to assess the socio-environmental performance of renovation measures are lacking.

In this PhD project, you will develop a comprehensive model to assess the socio-environmental performance of energy-efficient renovations of residential buildings. Particular attention will be paid not only to the energy and environmental aspects but also to the social aspects of renovations. Different research methods will be considered including novel methods such as Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA). Different stakeholders of energy-efficient renovations will be targeted. The model will be tested through a set of combined scenarios including different building typologies and characteristics and different renovation options in terms energy efficiency, use of retrofit materials and installations, as well as through case studies. On one side, the research aims to clarify the socio-environmental impacts and benefits of energy efficient renovation measures. On the other side, the research is challenged by the definition of appropriate methods for the assessment of sustainable renovations.


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

  • a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering Technology, Civil Engineering, or Architecture;
  • a knowledge of energy efficient and sustainable buildings;
  • 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: computer graphics, dynamic energy modelling, life cycle assessment.


We offer a contract of two years for a fulltime PhD position starting on September 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. Besides opportunities offered by the research group, further 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. The Ghent Campus is a welcoming facility located a few minutes away from the historical city centre. The city of Ghent offers excellent transport connections to the main cities of Belgium and neighbourhood countries. Further information can befound on the website of the university: https://www.kuleuven.be/englis...


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.

You can apply for this job no later than June 05, 2023 via the online application toolKU 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.

Apply before: 05/06/2023

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