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Vacancies for PhD Students @NUI Galway


nZEB-RETROFIT: Achieving nearly zero-energy buildings - A lifecycle assessment approach to retrofitting existing buildings

Project objectives

This project focuses on achieving low energy sustainable buildings using a lifecycle assessment approach. This project will evaluate the effectiveness of innovative technologies for retrofitting existing buildings, regarding their structural, environmental and energy performance, and their influence on health, safety and comfort of building users. This project will provide strategically important products and tools to transform existing buildings into retrofitted high performance sustainable buildings with high energy efficiency, low costs and optimal user comfort.


Project motivation

People spend approximately 90% of their lives indoors. Thus, it is very important to maintain safe, healthy and comfortable conditions in buildings - our living and working environments. It is estimated that buildings in Europe waste €270 billion each year in energy costs and that if addressed 530,000 full time jobs would be created and 460 million tons of CO2 would be saved annually. Retrofitting is recognised as the most immediate, pressing and cost effective mechanism to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions in the building and construction sector. It is necessary to double or triple the current retrofitting rate to reach the EU short and long term goals of an energy reduction of 20% by 2020 and a CO2 reduction of between 80% and 95% by 2050. The timeframe left to develop innovative technologies and business models in line with 2050 ambitions is less than 10 years. This project addresses some of these challenges through a multi-layered approach. That is (i) development of innovative technologies and
systems for prefabricated façade elements for the building retrofit; (ii) evaluation of the influence of advanced retrofit technologies on indoor environments, including health, safety and comfort of building occupants; (iii) development of a CEN standards-driven, systematic Building Information Modelling (BIM) approach to building retrofitting, with a holistic package of solutions for Ireland; (iv) methodical assessment to CEN standards of Irish buildings from a lifecycle energy consumption and greenhouse gases emissions perspective, and (v) development of socio-technical innovations and action plans for more sustainable buildings, primarily focussed on behavioural change of building users.

Project deliverables

The proposed project comprises laboratory-scale research, on site full-scale research based on real-time data, numerical modelling and desktop research. It is divided into seven work packages
(WP), as follows:

  • WP1 Project management.
  • WP2 Manufacturing of prefabricated modules for renovation of buildings
  • WP3 Influence of building envelopes on indoor environments in low-energy buildings
  • WP4 Deep retrofitting of existing building stock
  • WP5 Environmental life cycle assessment analysis of buildings: towards nearly zero-energy
  • buildings
  • WP6 Socio-economic research on energy efficiency
  • WP7 Dissemination activities

Project team roles

PhD Student 1.
The student will be responsible for the day-to-day management and research work of WP2. She/he will design, construct and test prefabricated façade elements with the objective to optimise structural, energy and manufacturing performances of the technologies. This will be achieved through physical testing of components and full scale elements in the structures laboratory at NUI Galway, which will be complemented by physical measurements
from demonstrator buildings and numerical modelling. The PhD students will establish design guidelines and disseminate results (WP7).

PhD Student 2. The student will be responsible for the day-to-day management and research work of WP3. She/he will analyse the effectiveness of innovative building structural elements and systems, and their influence on indoor environments, using advanced numerical modelling techniques (CFD and the whole building simulation). She/he will develop software tools, which will be validated using real-time monitoring of demonstrator buildings. Next, she/he will use those tools to evaluate the performance of novel innovative systems developed in WP2. She/he
will also disseminate results (WP7).

PhD Student 3.The student will be responsible for the day-to-day management and research work of WP4. She/he will develop a standards-driven, systematic approach using 3D BIM for deep retrofitting of existing buildings. She/he will integrate innovations from WP2 and WP3 into the software tool, including real-time monitoring of buildings. She/he will use existing functional demonstrator buildings to assist in developing and validating the software tool. She/he will also disseminate results (WP7).

As well as the roles described above, the PhD candidates are expected to contribute towards the discipline of civil engineering at NUI Galway as, for example, teaching assistants, as well as being actively involved in outreach activities of the group. PhD candidates are expected to disseminate their research findings at international conferences and in peer-reviewed journals, as well as mainstream and social media. The stipend paid to the successful candidates will be
€18,000 per annum for four years and tuition fees will be funded by the project. Applicants must have a degree (2.1 minimum) in environmental engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, building services engineering, material science, environmental science, or a related discipline suited for the PhD being applied for.

To Apply:

The application will consist of:
- Application Form that can be downloaded from here or from the following address:
- Curriculum Vitae;
- Contact details of three references.

All of the required documentation should be sent by email to under the subject: nZEB-RETROFIT. Alternatively, the documentation may be sent by regular post to Dr Jamie Goggins, Civil Engineering, National University of Ireland, Galway. Please ensure to put, in subject line of e-mail application, the reference: nZEB-RETROFIT.

Further information:

All the positions will be filled when suitable candidates have been found. The first set of applications will be assessed on 8th September 2014.