UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


IEDE announces new PhD Studentship in ‘Scalable method to assess ventilation rates in dwellings’

8 April 2019

The UCL Energy Institute and UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering in partnership with Aereco, are seeking applications for a fully funded studentship on the topic: Scalable method to assess ventilation rates in dwellings.

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Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through the EPSRC-SFI Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Resilience and the Built Environment (ERBE) and co-funded by Aereco, this project aims to investigate the relationship between hygrothermal properties and air exchange rates in dwellings, and the co-relationships with building geometry, archetype, age, ventilation provision, and retrofit measures.

About the project


The project will be supervised by Dr Hector Altamirano, UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, and Ian Mawditt, an independent researcher, engaged on behalf of industry sponsor Aereco UK Ltd. The student will have the opportunity to work in the IEDE Environmental Laboratory and collaborate closely with Aereco UK Ltd. 


The studentship will cover home fees and enhanced tax free stipend of  approx. £18,000 per year (for eligible applicants for 4 years (start date September 2019), along with a substantial budget for research, travel, and centre activities. Applicants should meet the EPSRC eligibility criteria.

Project summary

This research will use vapour pressure excess to estimate air exchange rates across a range of typical moisture activities. Using moisture as a way of measuring and controlling ventilation rates can offer a simplified way of maintaining indoor air quality.
The field research element will require detailed investigations in a sample of occupied dwellings, including deployment of tracer gas techniques and the measurement of hygrothermal conditions. The results will help to identify if, by using readily available hygrothermal data (including re-analysis of existing data), it is possible to characterise air exchange rates and related ventilation effectivemess in dwellings on a UK- wide scale. 

The research will address the following questions:

  1. What evidence already exists in relation to air exchange rates and moisture conditions in existing dwellings? 
  2. How closely does moisture data relate to air exchange rates and related ventilation effectiveness? 
  3. Can we use moisture data, e.g. vapour pressure excess, to develop a metric for air exchange rates and/or to specify the required ventilation capacity?
  4. Where lie the critical relationships between hygrothermal conditions, and air movement? How much does occupant moisture generation and geometry influence the indoor environment? 
  5. Can a moisture-only metric be sufficient for controlling other pollutants in the home? This will require detailed evaluation through field measurements  or modelling to correlate moisture with, e.g. VOCs and other indoor pollutants.

Personal specficiation of applicant (specific skills required)

We are seeking highly motivated applicants with good degrees (min 2:1) in Science related qualifications, preferably engineering or physics. Previous experience in, or knowledge of, energy retrofitting interventions, monitoring and modelling is preferable but not required. 

How to apply

Your pre-application should be submitted by email direct to the UCL ERBE Centre Manager (bseer.erbecdt@ucl.ac.uk)

Application deadline: 4 June 2019  12:00 midday (UK time)
Interview date: TBC

The application should include the following:

  • A covering letter clearly stating your motivation, and stating your understanding of eligibility according to these guidelines: https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/eligibility/
  • CV
  • Names and addresses of two academic referees
  • A copy of your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s) of degree(s)

Following the interview, the successful candidate will be invited to make a formal application to the UCL Research Degree programme.  For any further details regarding the project contact Dr Hector Altamirano h.altamirano-medina@ucl.ac.uk

You will be undertaking this project in UCL students camupses which may be located at HereEast or Bloomsbury or across both sites as part of the new EPSRC-SFI Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Resilience and the Built Environment (ERBE CDT). This is a collaboration between UCL, Loughborough University and Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI). For more information, please visit the ERVE website: erbecdt.ac.uk