In 2015, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals presented ambitious goals for the first time to combat global warming.
For example, the energy requirements shall be significantly reduced by 2030, resources are to be better used and waste is to be avoided. The construction industry plays a major role here, as it is currently responsible for around 40% of the CO2 emissions caused by energy generation.
The concept of circular economy provides a promising concept to achieve more sustainable solutions in the built environment and is defined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation with three key principles: 1) Design out waste and pollution, 2) Keep products and materials in use and
3) Regenerate natural systems. The three PhD positions will all research in the context of 'keep products and materials in use'.
All positions are embedded in a large European research project, which focuses on the possible re-use of precast concrete elements and re-design for new building projects. The three researchers will primarily be involved in the two workpages, which will be led by TU/e and will include the study of following aspects:
- Deconstruction: The deconstruction of existing buildings with prefabricated concrete elements aims at recovering a highest possible number of the elements while maintaining their structural quality and integrity without compromising the health and safety of the deconstruction workers or the people in the vicinity of the deconstruction project. The main goals are to arrive at ways of inventarising the possible available and usable pre-cast elements (in relation to future re-use) in existing buildings, and to optimize ways of safely recovering and handling these elements without compromising the elements quality.
- Redesign and reassembly: Here the key objective is to understand and to develop the redesign and reassembly process, in which precast concrete elements are reused in new buildings in a new architectural as well as structural configuration. In order to develop this process a thorough understanding of the relevant design parameters and especially a good knowledge about different connector types is necessary. Based on this the design process, in close collaboration with all stakeholders, will be developed and evaluated, which finally will yield to four real-life pilot projects in four countries.
The PhD student is expected to perform scientific research in the described domain, publish work in scientific journals and present at conferences, collaborate within the research group as well as with external partners, and assist the staff in teaching undergraduate and graduate students.
All three researchers will be hosted at the chair of Innovative Structural Design (ISD) at the department of the Built Environment. ISD is the centre of innovation towards structural integration and optimization. Integration of structural topology, deep knowledge of materials and mechanics combined with related disciplines are not only the foundations on which the
ISD group is built but also its viewpoint of vital future structural development. At the moment ISD consists of around 20 international staff member with a wide range of expertise and experiences.