Postdoctoral Researcher – Benchmark life cycle environmental impacts associated with the construction of new building and renovation infrastructure in Ireland by 2040

Benchmark life cycle environmental impacts associated with the construction of new building and renovation infrastructure in Ireland by 2040

Closing date: 5.00 pm Wednesday 23rd February 2022

Interviews: planned to be held during the week of 7th March 2022, which will be held using MS Teams

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for a full-time fixed-term position as a Postdoctoral Researcher on the project “UPFRONT-CO2e: Understanding Potential For Realising Our National Targets on Embodied Energy and Global Warming Potential”, as well as other related projects, within the Sustainable and Resilient Structures Research Group in the SFI MaREI Centre based in the School of Engineering and Ryan Institute at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway). The team at NUI Galway are collaborating with the Irish Green Building Council (IGBC) to deliver the project.

This position is funded by the SEAI and H2020 and is available from March 2022 for a period of one year (subject to extension if additional funding becomes available).

The Project:

The Programme for Government sets out the aim of achieving a fully decarbonised economy by 2050. In addition, new building and renovation infrastructure is required in Ireland, including at least half a million new homes and home retrofits, to accommodate the expected population increase. Despite this vision, there is currently limited, publicly available, high quality data for benchmarking the embodied environmental impacts of buildings constructed in Ireland. Many of the studies available have focused mainly on evaluating the environmental impact of residential buildings. This lack of data can be partially explained by the fact that, unlike the UK, there is no standardised LCA based approach/criteria as part of the public procurement process in Ireland. Building on work of NUI Galway and IGBC, the proposed UPFRONT-CO2e project aims to:

·        Benchmark life cycle environmental impacts associated with the construction of new building and renovation infrastructure in Ireland by 2040.

·        Develop pathways to mitigating the embodied environmental impact of future building construction based on standardised LCA approach, market analysis and stakeholder engagement.

·        Demonstrate how databases and standardised methods (EPDs, Level(s) & LCA Verification Checklist) developed in part by IGBC can be used in the public procurement process in Ireland to evaluate the sustainability of building design.

·        Benchmark life cycle environmental impacts associated with the construction of new building and renovation infrastructure in Ireland by 2040.

·        Develop pathways to mitigating the embodied environmental impact of future building construction based on standardised LCA approach, market analysis and stakeholder engagement.

·        Demonstrate how databases and standardised methods (EPDs, Level(s) & LCA Verification Checklist) developed in part by IGBC can be used in the public procurement process in Ireland to evaluate the sustainability of building design.

Job Description:

The successful candidate will lead the development of a methodology establishing the requirements and approach used by project partners for carrying out LCAs of the case study buildings. LCAs will be conducted in line with Level 2 of Level(s) indicator 1.2: Life Cycle Global Warming Potential, and international standard EN15978. The developed methodology is required to include approaches for hot spot analysis and scenario modelling to reduce environmental impacts of buildings. The scenario modelling will involve substitution analysis involving shifting from conventional materials to more sustainable practices. This will outline carbon reduction measures to achieve 20%, 40% and 60% carbon reduction potential and to achieve carbon benchmarks from the RIBA/RIAI climate challenge of 300-500kg for residential buildings and 350kg-600kg for non-residential buildings. The developed methodology will be based on current best practices employed in the industry and academic sectors.

The candidate is responsible for developing practical, applicable and usable research outputs (e.g. design guidance documents, tools, reports, webinars, etc.) for policy makers/construction professionals that give much needed clarity around the issues of embodied energy and carbon in building materials, and sustainable material and design alternatives relevant to the Irish construction sector.

The successful candidate will work in the Sustainable and Resilient Structures Research Group (www.nuigalway.ie/structures) under the supervision of Prof Jamie Goggins to benchmark life cycle environmental impacts associated with the construction of new building and renovation infrastructure in Ireland by 2040.

Duties:

Research

·        Review of best practice LCA research nationally and internationally including building design principles employed

·        Develop a methodology for LCA of case study buildings.

·        Develop a methodology for review and audit of LCA of case study buildings

·        Review and audit LCAs of independent designers

·        Conduct LCAs of case study buildings.

·        Assess impacts of business as usual building materials vs sustainable materials scenarios for case study buildings.

·        Engage with case study clients/consultants.

·        Develop guidance documents and recommendations for the building construction sector and policy-makers.

·        Define research objectives and proposals for own (or joint) research in line with research strategy whilst contributing to the research programme of the College/School/Research Unit. This will be under general guidance of a member of the academic staff or Principal Investigator/ Project Leader.

·        Actively participate as a member of a research team and assist an individual research leader or team to conduct a particular study (or group of studies).

·        Keep up to date with research related methods and techniques, in particular, developments in the specific research area.

·        To provide assistance in conducting research activities, including planning, organising, conducting, and communicating research studies within the overall scope of a research project.

·        To coordinate and perform a variety of independent tasks and team activities involved in the collection, analysis, documentation and some interpretation of information/results.

·        To present information on research progress and outcomes to others responsible for the research project. The postdoctoral researcher will make use of standard research techniques and methods.

·        Conduct literature and database searches and interpret and present the findings of the literature searches as appropriate.

·        Assist in analysis and interpretation of results of own research.

·        Collaborate with colleagues on areas of shared research interest.

·        Define research objectives and proposals for own (or joint) research in line with research strategy whilst contributing to the research programme of the Sustainable and Resilient Structures Research group (www.nuigalway.ie/structures) in the MaREI Centre (www.marei.ie) at NUI Galway (www.nuigalway.ie). This will be under general guidance of the Principal Investigator/ Project Leader.

 

 

Dissemination

·        Write up results from own research activity (e.g. as project report) for review by PI, including preparing technical reports, conclusions and recommendations.

·        Contribute to the publication of findings.

·        Provide input into the research project’s dissemination, in whatever form (report, papers, chapters, book) as directed by the PI/project leader. Authorship should be decided in line with guidelines such as the Vancouver Protocol, or similar authorship guidelines as appropriate.

·        Present on research progress and outcomes e.g. to bodies supervising research; steering groups; other team members, as agreed with the PI/project leader.

·        Attend and contribute to relevant meetings/conferences.

·        Should write at least workshop level papers.

·        Lead the writing of at least one international peer-review journal publication, as well as contributing to other peer-review publications.

 

Management

·        Keep appropriate records as directed and in line with Funder/University policy.

·        Manage own personal and research resources (including where required, laboratories, and specialist equipment) appropriately.

·        Work under the direction of the Principal Investigator/Project Leader. Plan and manage own day-to-day research activity within this framework & direction.

·        Provide guidance as required to any support staff and/or research students assisting with the research project, as agreed with the Principal Investigator/Grant holder.

·        To carry out any additional duties as may reasonably be required within the general scope and level of the post.

·        Manage own research budget and keep records as directed and in line with Funder/University policy as appropriate.

 

Support

·        Support and, where appropriate, co-supervise the work of undergraduate students e.g. Final Year Project Students.

·        Where appropriate provide advice and / or assistance to support staff, research students.

·        May participate in limited student contact hours for own development (e.g. May deliver laboratory demonstrations, teaching laboratory test methods and demonstrating of various experiments and equipment used to undergraduates). The extent of this must not adversely impact the primary research role.

·        Gain experience in grant writing and participate in internal / external networks for the exchange of information and to form relationships for future research collaboration.

 

Other

·        Continue to update knowledge and develop skills.

·        Develop internal and external contacts with researchers in related areas.

·        May contribute to work of the College/School/Research Unit through activities such as student Open Days, other promotion activity as appropriate.

Qualifications/Skills required:

The ideal candidate should hold a PhD in Building Engineering, Civil Engineering, Built Environment, Construction & Project Management, Architecture, Material Science, Regional & Urban Planning, or equivalent, have a strong background in life cycle assessment modelling in the building sector and is expected to have performed original scientific research within building structures. Candidates should have excellent communication and organisational skills; be highly motivated and passionate about decarbonizing the construction sector; and have strong documentation, oral and interpersonal skills. The position requires communication with the different partners of the consortium, thus excellent communication skills are mandatory.

Requirements:

Essential Requirements:

·        Honours degree (at least 2.1 or equivalent) in Building Engineering, Civil Engineering, Built Environment, Construction & Project Management, Architecture, Material Science,  Regional & Urban Planning, or equivalent

·        PhD in Building Engineering, Civil Engineering, Built Environment, Construction & Project Management, Architecture, Material Science, Regional & Urban Planning, or equivalent.

·        Evidence of experience in life cycle assessment modelling.

·        Demonstrable experience in both independent and collaborative research.

·        Excellent verbal and written communication skills (English language).

·        Evidence of scientific publication and dissemination of results at conferences and/or journals.

Desirable Requirements:

·        Experience in the design and construction of commercial and non-commercial buildings.

·        Experience in the Irish construction sector.

·        Experience in policy development in the building sector.

·        Experience in collaborating with stakeholders in the building sector in the delivery of research objectives such as material manufacturers/producers/suppliers, architects, structural engineers, building designers, policy makers, suppliers, certification authorities, investors, academic researchers, environmentalists, politicians, etc..

·        Evidence of innovative thinking, able to work both independently and in cross-disciplinary teams

·        Appropriate supervisory or teaching experience may be an advantage

To Apply:

Applications to include a covering letter, CV, and the contact details of three referees should be sent, via e-mail (in word or PDF only) to Prof Jamie Goggins: Jamie.Goggins@nuigalway.ie  

Please put reference number NUIG-009-22 in subject line of e-mail application.

 

Closing date for receipt of applications is 5.00 pm Wednesday 23rd February 2022

 

Interviews are planned to be held during the week of 7th March 2022, which will be held using MS Teams