UCL Energy Institute


Fully funded PhD studentship on building stock modelling with socio-technical heating parameters

20 December 2022

Applications are now open for a proposed studentship 'Warm@Home: Building stock model with customisable socio-technical parameters for home heating', as part of 60 studentships to be awarded by the UCL EPSRC DTP.

Thermal image of many buildings in a city

About the project

Project title: Warm@Home: Building stock model with customisable socio-technical parameters for home heating.
Project supervisors: Prof Paul RuysseveltMichelle ShipworthDr Dominic Humphrey
Project ID: 2228bd1159 (You will need this ID for your application)

HM Government (2021) Heat and Buildings Strategy sets the challenging goal of ramping up heat pump installations from 35,000 to 600,000 p.a. by 2028. Although it notes that engaging the public to achieve the necessary changes will require “tailored advice so that individuals can confidently make informed choices regarding heat sources and energy efficiency measures in their homes”, it has little to say on how to achieve this. This research will develop the technical means (a tailored building stock model) to provide highly tailored and flexible socio-technical advice to home owners on their heating and warming options. It will achieve this by leveraging historical EPSRC, UK government and local authority investment in UCL’s building stock models.

The aim of this PhD studentship is to develop a building stock model with customisable socio-technical parameters for achieving warmth at home.

This project will develop a building stock model that allows users to select the combination of building upgrade, heating system, heating use and (uniquely) alternative warming practices to suit their specific home, household, budget and timeframes. For instance, using alternative warming practices and less demanding heating settings could reduce the need for building fabric upgrades, either until funds or tradespeople are available, or in perpetuity, potentially considerably expanding the customer base for heat pumps. 

This PhD will build on UCL’s SimStock simulation model, using 3DStock (digital twin of existing stock) as the database, socio-technical research findings regarding alternative warming practices, and user interviews regarding model needs and preferences.

The selected candidate will join the Building Stock Lab team, which specialises in highly desegregated models and collaborates with government and local authorities on assessing low carbon building stock scenario options.

The ideal candidate has an ability to undertake innovative socio-technical building stock modelling and research to understand and model complex heating technology adoption drivers.

About the Supervisory Team

Prof Paul Ruyssevelt, Professor of Energy & Building Performance, leads UCL’s Building Stock Lab. The lab researches all aspects of energy use and environmental performance of the UK building stock - core to this PhD. Paul has supervised five PhD students to completion and been Principal or Co-Investigator for four EPSRC funded research projects. In accordance with EPSRC goal of providing Early Career Researchers with PhD supervision opportunities, Paul will mentor Dominic Humphrey as tertiary supervisor.

Michelle Shipworth, Associate Professor in Energy and Social Sciences, has supervised to completion four PhD students, including one on the role of plumbers in determining the central heating systems that householders install. She is supervising a PhD on householder experiences with heat pumps and three PhDs on alternative warming/cooling practices. Her Australian Greenhouse Office report Motivating Home Energy Action: a handbook of what works is widely cited internationally. 

Dr Dominic Humphrey, Senior Research Fellow in Building Stock Models and Building Retrofit, is an architect specialising in the retrofit of existing buildings, with expertise in developing highly desegregated building stock models. He uses these models to provide insights into scenario alternatives to support the retrofit programs needed for the building decarbonisation challenge.

Key information

Funder: UCL ESPRC DTP studentship
Value: Fees, Stipend (at least £20,668 per year), Research Training Support Grant
Duration: Up to 4 years (thesis to be submitted within funded period)
Eligible Fee Status: Home, International (EPSRC caps the total number of funded International fee status students across UCL for this award at 30%)
Study Mode: Full or Part time (at least 50% FTE) [Note: Part time is not available to International students]
Primary Selection Criteria: Academic merit
Project ID: 2228bd1159 (You will need this ID for your application)
Application Deadline: 12:00 on 26 January 2023

How to apply

This PhD Studentship topic is one of 19 proposed by The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources to a competition for approximately 60 studentships that will be awarded across UCL as part of the UCL EPSRC DTP. Prospective students are welcome to apply for up to 5 potential studentships - see the full list of projects from our department and the UCL project database for a comprehensive list across the university. The 60 successful proposals will be chosen following applicant interviews.

Before applying, all applicants must read the full eligibility criteria and application guidance on the UCL EPSRC DTP website. There is a 3-part application process, with a deadline of the 26 January 2023 to complete the third part of the application.