UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Fully funded PhD studentship on net-zero heat resilient UK housing stock

20 December 2022

Applications are now open for a proposed studentship in 'A net zero UK housing stock that is resilient to increased exposure to heat due to climate change', as part of 60 studentships to be awarded by the UCL EPSRC DTP.

London houses

About the project

Project title: A net zero UK housing stock that is resilient to increased exposure to heat due to climate change
Project supervisors: Prof Mike DaviesDr Nici ZimmermannDr Clare Heaviside
Project ID: 2228bd1154 (You will need this ID for your application)

The UK housing stock is currently not fit for the future. Greenhouse gas emissions from homes in the UK are not falling quickly enough. In addition, the stock is not well prepared to provide protection against summer overheating - heat-related mortality is currently expected to increase by 250% from current levels by the 2050s, due to climate change. 

The government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy (2021) outlined ‘mitigation’ plans to achieve net zero buildings. The government’s Climate Change Risk Assessment (2022) notes that ‘Risks to human health, wellbeing and productivity from increased exposure to heat in homes and other buildings’ is one of eight priority risk areas requiring the most urgent ‘adaptation’ action. 

This project will address the urgent need to integrate such mitigation and adaptation actions. Mitigation and adaptation measures should be designed and implemented together, to make the most of potential synergies and avoid negative unintended consequences / trade-offs. 

The project is closely aligned with a substantial research programme at IEDE including the CUSSH and HEROIC projects and our EPSRC Platform Grant – ‘Systems Thinking in the Built Environment’ (given only to ‘world-leading research groups’).

Addressing urgent issues central to UK government policy development, this novel and timely project will explore the details of how to move rapidly towards a net zero, resilient future. Specifically, it will use urban climate and built environment modelling to focus on the housing stock and the pressing challenge of reducing carbon emissions whilst addressing risks from increased heat exposure.

We will provide high-quality training in the following areas: energy demand, indoor environmental quality and urban climate modelling, systems thinking and transdisciplinary working.

About the Supervisory Team

Primary supervisor: Prof Mike Davies
First subsidiary supervisor: Dr Nici Zimmermann
Second subsidiary supervisor: Dr Clare Heaviside

The supervisory team have long experience and specific expertise in this area. Davies is Professor of Building Physics and Environment at UCL and a member of the UK Climate Change Committee. He was the founding Director of the Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering at UCL. He has led multiple large grants and carried out transdisciplinary research to understand the complex relationships between energy, environment and health, with a focus on urban settings.  Zimmermann is Associate Professor in System Dynamics at UCL and her research relates to counterintuitive and innovative solutions for important problems, She works on topics related to sustainable cities and housing, system dynamics modelling, change and decision making and has been involved in many projects relating to these issues. Heaviside is NERC Fellow and Associate Professor at UCL. She works on climate change, health and urban climate research, and previously led on climate change at Public Health England (now the UK Health Security Agency). She has expertise in urban climate modelling and quantifying exposure to and health impacts from heat.

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: 2228bd1154 (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.