PhD Studentship: Evaluating low carbon floor slab materials for improved energy efficiency in historic buildings

University of Bath - BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials (BRE CICM)

The replacement of solid ground floors can be used to improve the energy efficiency of historic buildings. Proposals often include the replacement of an existing floor with some form of insulated concrete or ‘limecrete’ ground bearing slab. It is a widely-held belief that if an impermeable ground bearing slab is installed in an old building, ground moisture will be ‘driven’ up adjacent walls. Although there are numerous references to this phenomenon, both in technical and product literature, they tend to be anecdotal and unsupported by scientific evidence.

The costs of improving the energy efficiency of historic buildings can be very high, but the additional costs of remedying damp problems resulting from retrofitting may be higher still. Furthermore, moisture problems can adversely affect the health of occupants, and harm building fabric. Therefore, it is important to better understand how ground bearing slabs, both permeable and impermeable, affect the behaviour and transport of moisture in the ground and in adjacent walls. Field experiments will be conducted in the historic city of Bath and supported by laboratory material testing. The findings of the research will contribute to an evidence base that will enable informed decisions to be made about retrofitting floors within historic buildings.

Competitively awarded University of Bath studentships are available to support highly qualified UK/EU applicants. This includes a distinction at MSc level or a first class honours undergraduate degree in engineering or an applied science. The successful candidate will be fully funded for 3.5 years. This studentship will cover their Home/EU tuition fees, a training support fee of £1,000/annum, and a standard tax-free maintenance payment of at least £14,296 (16/7 rate).

A complete application must be submitted by the 30 November 2016 or 15 March 2017 deadlines, for an October 2017 start. Please contact Dr Kevin Briggs ( to discuss your application before formal submission.

The position is located within the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at the University of Bath. The department was ranked equal first in the UK out of 45 submissions to Sub-Panel C16 Architecture, Built Environment and Planning in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. The university is located in southwest England in idyllic Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its ancient Roman baths, gothic abbey, and Georgian architecture.

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South West England