CDT 1st year - project to be confirmed

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering


Buildings have traditionally been constructed on-site and on a project-by-project basis. A reluctance of new approaches within the UK construction industry has contributed to it becoming one of the most inefficient industries. Furthermore, approximately 40% of energy related CO2 emissions globally comes from buildings and the construction industry.
Off-site construction (OSC) is the "manufacturing and pre-assembly of components or modules before installation into their final location." This type of construction follows design for manufacture and assembly (DFMA), with manufacturing carried out in a controlled factory environment, leaving simple assembly operations to take place on site. OSC offers strategies to mitigate embodied carbon through waste management, flexibility and reuse and the improvement of construction efficiency. However, there is a clear need and lack of critical evaluation on the embodied impacts of OSC. Industry is hesitant to deploy these techniques due to the lack of evidence, in addition to further constraints such as initial costs and planning. Therefore, understanding how we can use OSC to get us closer to net-zero carbon is an important research objective - showing how they can best used and qualifying that they are better than traditional methods.
This work will build on existing knowledge by promoting the adoption of LCA-based decision making through the integration of tools, and provide sufficient evidence of DFMA as better performing in terms of carbon than conventional builds. The PhD work will aim to bridge the gap between the current state-of-the-art for LCA tools (i.e. relatively crude embodied carbon calculators) and a live energy model to aid in early decision-making. Additionally, tackle the 3 major limitations surfaced from the MRes and previous work; data in this field is limited, and the noticeable lack of transparency in material information and consistency in methodology. Therefore, aiming to show how DFMA can help through greater certainty and quality of data, whilst providing reductions in embodied carbon.
The Laing O'Rourke (LOR) Engineering Excellence Group are in the process of designing and manufacturing a range of product-based building solutions (PBBS) for DFMA. These products will be manufactured as demonstrators to show their viability, both for constructability and whole life performance. The PhD work will be carried out in parallel, with opportunities for investigating case studies, physical & digital demonstrations, and deployment into real-life projects.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S02302X/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2277513 Studentship EP/S02302X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Benjamin Freeman