Indoor air quality improvement and overheating prevention in new build residential developments in the UK

  • Overview:
    Thermal comfort, indoor air quality (IAQ) and overheating are important challenges facing the UK new build homes sector as a direct result of increased thermal insulation and air tightness combined with global warming and increasing levels of air pollution. This is putting occupiers comfort, well-being and health at risk leading to an increased burden on health services and premature deaths. There is a lack of research and knowledge about the effects of moving to low-carbon homes and the importance of effective ventilation, which result in many unintended consequences such as overheating.
    The aim of the project is to propose cost effective scalable construction solutions and strategies that take account of human behaviours with the potential to improve the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and reduce overheating in new homes. The research will seek to analyse the factors that affect users comfort and wellbeing including indoor pollution and solar gain; and the barriers to potential remedies. The research will involve working with major home builder partners to conduct trials to monitor and record indoor air quality in unoccupied and occupied dwellings across the UK, gathering user’s feedback on thermal comfort and wellbeing and evaluating the data obtained to propose new methods than can cost effectively improve the indoor air quality and comfort in new developments.
    This research will provide benefits to housing developers through avoiding costly complaints and litigation, as well as promote IAQ and resilience against overheating as key features of new homes. The practical knowledge and solutions will be used to drive the future of new home design to meet stringent climate change targets. In addition to this, there will be benefits for society through reduced costs to the health service associated with poor air quality such as asthma in children and premature deaths amongst the elderly due to overheating.

    Person specification
    A valid English language qualification, such as International English Language Test System (Academic IELTS) or equivalent with an overall score of 6.5 with no band below 6.0, must be submitted with your application.
    We are looking for an enthusiastic and highly motivated candidate who should have or be in the process of obtaining an excellent first degree (good 2:1 or above) or MSc degree with Distinction in a relevant Built Environment discipline (e.g. Architecture, Architectural Technology, Construction Management, Building Surveying, Building Services Engineering). The role will involve conducting literature review, analysis and IAQ monitoring of dwellings, surveys to occupants, comparative analysis of the results obtained and proposal of affordable incremental design and equipment modifications.
    Thus applicants should demonstrate
    Good knowledge of building performance, CAD software and Microsoft Office.
    Experience in literature review, data collection and data analysis.
    An ability to interact sensitively with companies and house occupants.
    Good written and oral communication skills are essential.
    Knowledge and experience of Energy performance software, scientific research and UK build residential would be an advantage.

    Funding notes
    The opportunity is open to Home, EU and International applicants who meet the required Birmingham City University eligibility criteria. The PhD studentship includes a full stipend, paid for a period of 3 years at RCUK rates (in 2019/20 this is £15,009 pa) and fees at Home/EU rate. This studentship will start in September 2019 and no later than January 2020. International applicants are eligible to apply for this studentship but must meet the shortfall on fees between Home/EU and International rate.

    How to apply
    The closing date for applications is 23.59 on Wednesday 17th July 2019.
    You can find details on studying for a PhD and details of how to apply –
    When applying, please complete the online application form through the above provided link where you will be required to upload your proposal in place of a personal statement.
    Reference: EBE-052019-PhD-4

    For Informal academic enquiries please contact the academic supervisor, Dr Monica Mateo-Garcia ( the BIM and Visualisation Research Group, Centre of Engineering, School of Engineering and the Built Environment, Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment, Birmingham City University.
    For all administrative enquiries please contact Bernadette Allen ( from the Doctoral College, Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment, Birmingham City University.

  • Duration: 36 Months