PhD; Climate change adaptation measures: adaptive buildings and occupants

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Description Unit:

This project is a collaborative project between the Chair of Urban Planning at the Unit UMDS (Prof. dr. Harry Timmermans), the group “Computational Building Performance Simulation” at the Unit Building Physics and Systems (BPS) (Prof. dr. ir. Jan Hensen) and the group “Urban Physics” at the Unit BPS (Dr. ir. Bert Blocken). The project is therefore explicitly interdisciplinary and quite unique.

Project description:

This project is part of the large Dutch Research Programme “Climate Proof Cities” in which a large number of universities and research institutes are involved. The aim of this programme is to provide the knowledge that is necessary for adapting the built environment to be able to cope with climate change.

In this project, a wide range of adaptation measures is evaluated for indoor building environmental performance (thermal comfort - overheating) and heating and cooling energy consumption. The focus is on adapting the building envelope and incorporating user behaviour by programming efforts into existing codes. “High-resolution whole-building simulation” is employed for different climate scenarios and for a typological building classification. High-resolution whole-building simulation refers to the combination of Building Energy Simulation (BES), Building Envelope Heat-Air-Moisture transfer models (BEHAM) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models. This combination is particularly important for the evaluation of overheating conditions. In the present project, the high-resolution whole-building approach is expanded to take into account user behaviour, which is integrated in BES. Both the traditional idealistic and random distribution behaviour models as well as more powerful activity-based models will be employed. Activity-based modelling assumes that behaviour is driven by the activities that individuals want to perform. It consists of modelling real-life behaviour in all its complexity as closely as possible, which is a particular expertise of the Chair of Urban Planning at the Unit UMDS. In this project, activity-based models (ABM) for residential and office buildings will be developed for integration in BES. For thermal comfort and overheating evaluation, the adaptive approach will be used.

The building envelope adaptation measures that will be evaluated include comfort ventilation (openings for ventilation in overheating episodes) as well as passive cooling measures, which should enable the buildings to be free-running throughout the summer. The passive measures include thermal insulation, thermal capacity (including phase-change materials), reduced glazed fraction, solar shading by eaves and blinds, solar reflectance (albedo), long-wave emissivity, evapotranspiration, direct and indirect evaporative cooling, roof geometry, etc. Note that roof geometry is important as the convective removal of heat and water (evaporation) from the surface is an important factor to limit overheating.

The project consists of the following steps:

1.Literature review
2.Development of an activity-based model (ABM) for user behaviour in residential and office buildings and integration of this model in the BES program.
3.Measurements of outdoor and indoor environmental parameters in a set of buildings with and without adaptation measures (solar reflectance and vegetated roofs) implemented, for BES-CFD-ABM model validation.
4.BES-CFD-ABM model validation.
5.Model application for evaluation of adaptation measures, for the buildings in the typological classification and for different meteorological data sets based on different climate scenarios.
6.Establishing a classification (prioritization) of adaptation measures for buildings in the Netherlands. A distinction will be made between measures for new and for existing buildings. For existing buildings, it should be noted that they can progressively be adapted to climate change, in different refurbishment cycles: (1) redecoration (< 5 years); (2) refitting (7-15 years); (3) refurbishment (15-50 years); and (4) rebuilding (> 50 years).
The project will be executed in close collaboration with the other PhD students and with the postdocs that are working in the programme “Climate Proof Cities”, both at Eindhoven University of Technology and at the other universities involved.


We are looking for an excellent and highly motivated candidate with an MSc degree in Building Science, Building, Civil, Mechanical or Environmental Engineering, or equivalent. Interest in modelling human behaviour, computer programming and physical processes (heat, air, moisture and pollution transfer) in the built environment is essential. Experience in human behaviour, climate adaptation modelling and computer programming, and/or experience in Building Performance Simulation, Computational Fluid Dynamics and/or Building Envelope Heat-Air-Moisture transfer modelling is a plus.

We offer a stimulating and ambitious research environment. To complement this environment and for the specific project mentioned above, we are looking for an outstanding candidate that meets the following requirements:
× You are highly motivated, talented and enthusiastic
× You received an MSc degree in Building, Civil or Mechanical Engineering, Physics or a related field.
× You have an independent and well-structured working style
× You are interested in guiding master students
× You have programming skills
× You have strong communication skills and the attitude to participate successfully in a multidisciplinary team
x You have a very good knowledge of the English language, both in speaking and writing.


The duration of the project is four years. The project is expected to start in May . The gross monthly salary increases from € 2042,- in the first year to € 2612,- in the fourth year.

Besides this, the TU/e has an excellent package of attractive benefits for employees, a child-care facility, and a modern sports complex. Assistance for finding accommodation can be given.


More information may be obtained from: Prof.dr. Harry Timmermans (h.j.p.timmermans@tue.nl), Prof. dr. ir. Jan Hensen (j.l.m.hensen@tue.nl), (URL = www.bwk.tue.nl/bwk/hensen) or Dr. ir. Bert Blocken (b.j.e.blocken@tue.nl), (URL = http://sts.bwk.tue.nl/UrbanPhysics) Don't send your application by email!!
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