PhD position in circular urban resource mapping (a)
Materials science and technology are our passion. With our cutting-edge research, Empa's around 1,100 employees make essential contributions to the well-being of society for a future worth living. Empa is a research institution of the ETH Domain.
The Urban Energy Systems Laboratory at Empa develops models and concepts for innovative building and decentralized energy system technologies based on renewable energy, including prototypes and demonstration plants. 

The Chair of Circular Engineering for Architecture (CEA) at ETH Zurich develops research on matching supply and demand of reused materials in the built environment through digitalization for circularity. 

Together, we are exploring digital innovation such as LiDAR scanning tools, Geographic Information System (GIS), satellite imaging, and Google data to feed the creation of platforms for material and resource passports. This will enable to evaluate at an urban scale which buildings will be demolished or retrofitted and could become material mines in the future. In order to create a decision-making tool that helps with the optimal energy transformations and material flows within a city, we analyse trade-offs simultaneously. 
Your tasks
You will work on developing a computational design method for direct feedback on both embodied and operational impacts of design-decisions concerning the reuse of building materials. Combining tools from computer science and environmental architecture, you will look at optimization methods for finding the perfect fit for waste materials in an urban context, in order to lower waste generation, greenhouse gas emissions, and resource depletion. To do so, you will need to collaborate closely with industry in order to assess the condition of existing building materials using digital, non-destructive assessment tools. You will publish in scientific journals and conferences and present at public events for the general public. 
You will analyse the availability and potential of reusable components and underperforming urban spaces.This PhD position offers an exciting opportunity to contribute to the advancement of regenerative urban development by rethinking City Digital Twins, promoting circular construction practices, and maximizing the potential of underperforming spaces. You will be estimating the stock of reusable building components within buildings and identifying underutilized urban roofs and spaces that can be repurposed. Leveraging community-driven information can possibly allow for more holistic urban resource representation, therefore workflows that incorporate crowd-sourced data for urban space planning and reuse should be explored. Experience or strong interest in manipulation and analysis of geo-spatial data, especially geoAI is required. There topic can also be approached from blockchain technology perspective.
Your profile
We are seeking a highly motivated and dedicated candidate with a degree in civil and environmental engineering, architecture, computer science or similar. Candidates should have profound and interdisciplinary knowledge in energy, environmental impact, design optimization, and building technology. Programming experience in Python or similar languages are preferred. The candidate should be interested to work closely with industry and research partners in the construction sector. Candidates should have excellent written and spoken language skills in English (and knowing German is a plus). 
  • Master degree in architecture, engineering, urban planning, housing, life cycle assessment, computer science, or related fields; 
  • Strong research skills with experience in circular economy practices and material reuse; 
  • Proficiency in data analysis and database management; 
  • Knowledge of Life Cycle Assessment of buildings; 
  • Knowledge of Machine Learning, scanning technologies, GIS, and Building Information Modeling is preferred; 
  • Strong organizational skills with the ability to manage multiple tasks and priorities; 
  • Strong communication and writing skills. 
Our offer
We are offering a multifaceted and challenging position in a modern research environment with excellent infrastructure. You will also be connected to different labs at Empa and ETH Zurich, in order to carry out highly interdisciplinary work. 
We look forward to receiving your complete online application including:
  • Cover letter that describes the candidate’s motivation and research experience (max 1 page) in PDF format; 
  • A full CV including a list of publications in PDF format; 
  • A short position paper to show how you will address the topic (max 800 words, excluding bibliography) in PDF format; 
  • Academic transcripts/list of courses completed or on-going, including grades and ranking in PDF format (please upload a single PDF); 
  • Proof of English language skills if degree obtained in a non-English-speaking institution in PDF format; 
  • A digital copy of the master’s thesis in PDF format; 
  • Name, phone number, and email address / contact details of two referees (in PDF format); 
  • A 2-minute video explaining how you would address the posed research questions, submitted as a vimeo or youtube link only (please upload a PDF with the link).
Please submit these exclusively via our job portal. Deadline is 18 June 2023.Applications by e-mail and by post will not be considered.
«a» stands for «all» in our job advertisements. We live a culture of inclusion and respect. We welcome all people who are interested in innovative, sustainable and meaningful activities. That's what counts - not age, gender, origin, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
Patricia Nitzsche, Stv. Leiterin Personal / Dep. Head Human Resources
  Nina Limbach

Inst. Construction & Infrastructure Management

Your future place of work
Ueberlandstrasse 129
8600 Dübendorf
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Innovative, sustainable, meaningful activities
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International, multicultural working environment
Freedom to create and develop
Culture of inclusion and respect
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