UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Fully funded PhD studentship in performance-based parametric design to tackle UK housing overheating

20 December 2022

Applications are now open for a proposed studentship in 'Performance-based parametric design to tackle overheating in UK housing', as part of 60 studentships to be awarded by the UCL EPSRC DTP.

Image of modern houses in Bicester, UK

About the project

Project title: Performance-based parametric design to tackle overheating in UK housing
Project supervisors: Dr Farhang TahmasebiProf Ben Croxford
Project ID: 2228bd1120 (You will need this ID for your application)

In line with UKGBC’s call for a national rethink on adapting UK housing stock to the changing climate, this study aims to develop design strategies that can tackle overheating in UK homes without a transition toward energy-intensive air conditioning units. To this end, the project brings together state-of-the-art tools for parametric design and building performance simulation to explore and optimize a variety of passive environmental design strategies in terms of their effectiveness in reducing overheating risks. This will result in development of tailored design strategies to mitigate the impacts of extreme heatwaves in UK housing stock.

The proposed research is especially timely, as the impact of global warming gets increasingly tangible (with a new UK record for maximum daily temperature of 40.3°C in 2022), and UKGBC has called the new UK government to treat adapting UK housing stock as an urgent priority. Besides, the business-as-usual design preferences such as high glazing ratios, high thermal insulation, and low air infiltration rates have amplified the overheating problem. 

The PhD study hypotheses that performance-based parametric design is cable of capturing the complexity of building design/retrofit process, the multitude of influential design parameters, and the range of climate-change dependant metrics for building performance and occupant comfort. Therefore, focusing on performance-based parametric design as the method, the successful candidate will couple building performance simulation tools with parametric models of case study buildings to systematically assess the range of design performance resulting from the variations of design parameters. Thus, the study investigates to which extent this computational design support method can inform the design and operation of resilient buildings in the face of changing climate.

About the Supervisory Team

Dr Farhang Tahmasebi, CEng, MCIBSE, is a Lecturer at UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering. As a researcher and practitioner of building performance simulation and performance-based design, he has been leading building performance analysis and design practice courses in TU Wien and UCL Bartlett since 2012 and has co-led IEA EBC Annex 79 task group focused on applying occupant behaviour models in simulation-aided design process. He has contributed articles to scientific journals such as Building and Environment, Energy and Buildings, and Building Simulation and he has been guest editor of Journal of Building Performance Simulation special issue on occupant behaviour research.

Prof Ben Croxford has supervised a wide range of doctoral students and has extensive experience covering many aspects of Environmental Design and Engineering of buildings. He jointly set up the relevant optional modules in Multi Objective Design Optimisation and Low Energy Housing Retrofit, both of which are relevant to the parametric modelling of residential overheating. He also has been monitoring a near Passivhaus retrofit that has highlighted important issues around avoiding overheating in practice. Professor Croxford also has extensive experience with various dynamic building simulation programs and is well placed to act as second supervisor for this project.

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: 2228bd1120 (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.