The Ecological Systems Design Group at the Institute of Environmental Engineering, ETH Zurich is an internationally leading research group in the field of modeling, analyzing and improving the resource efficiency and environmental performance of products and processes, new technologies, and consumption patterns from a systems perspective. We offer a friendly and professional working environment, and are inviting applications for the Ph.D. position further described below.
PhD Position on Environmental Modeling and Assessment of Housing
This PhD position is part of the new research project “Shrinking Housing’s Environmental Footprint” within the National Research Programme on Sustainable Economy (NRP 73), funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The main goal of the project is to identify and promote measures that public authorities, property owners and dwellers can implement to reduce the use of primary resources necessary for housing. In your PhD thesis, you will model the resource consumption and environmental impacts of current households and buildings in Switzerland. Three collaboration partners (two building cooperatives and one insurance company) will provide data to allow for an in-depth assessment of the building stocks. You will identify determinants (drivers and barriers) of environmentally relevant housing decisions, such as choice of dwelling type and location, and set up a prospective model considering the aging and transformation of households. The interactions of the different stakeholders will be modelled with an agent-based model. On this basis, you will compute the resource use and material flows and assess the associated environmental impacts of a baseline scenario as well as alternative future scenarios that include implementation of measures intended to lower the environmental footprint. Finally, you will assist with deriving recommendations for policy makers, property owners and dwellers for optimized building and living-space management in Switzerland. An integral part of your work is publishing your results in peer-reviewed journals and presenting them at international conferences. The work will be carried out in an interdisciplinary team with two partner PhD students and supervisors from economic and social sciences at EPFL. The team will work closely with the aforementioned collaboration partners, who together own more than 10’000 apartments and have committed to delivering data and co-developing and testing strategies for increasing the sustainability of housing.
Your qualifications should include a master level university degree in environmental sciences, natural sciences, civil or environmental engineering with excellent grades. Experience with modeling, programming, environmental assessment tools such as LCA or MFA, agent-based models, GIS, and similar methods is highly appreciated. Basic German skills are a prerequisite to enable interaction with local decision makers. Your employment will be contracted according to standard regulations at ETH (funding secured for 3 years). The project will start in November 2017 or later upon mutual agreement. You are expected to contribute to the teaching and research activity of the chair up to a maximum of 20% of your working time.