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Website Ghent University

Job description
The Sustainable Systems Engineering (STEN) group of Ghent University welcomes a candidate for a full time PhD position on the carbon and material footprint assessment of demand-side measures in the region of Flanders. The PhD student will be involved in the Flemish funded (FWO) DEER project (Demand-side measures to Enhance well-being and foster Environmental footprint Reduction), involving academia, industry, governmental and non-governmental organizations.

To transition to a low-carbon circular economy, drastic carbon and material footprint reductions are key. The main strategies for these transitions have been focusing on the supply-side of the economy, for example stimulating technology development, technology improvements and efficiency gains. Demand-side measures focus on the consumption process of specific products by reducing, shifting or improving consumption. Thus far, these demand-side measures remain largely overlooked. However, according to the latest IPCC report, these demand-side measures have a very high potential to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions (40-70% in the field of housing, land transport and food). The DEER project will assess the impacts of specific demand-side measures in the field of thermal comfort and transport. For this, a specific carbon and material footprint target will be defined for these two systems to enable an absolute environmental sustainability assessment. These targets will be based on downscaled global or regional carbon and material footprint targets. The DEER project partners will quantify a minimal level of need fulfilment for these two systems, leading towards the definition of sustainable consumption corridors. Subsequently, the costs and consumer acceptance of these measures will be studied by other partners of the DEER project consortium. The DEER project will result in specific policy recommendations on how to implement the demand-side measures in the field of thermal comfort and transport with the highest impact and the lowest cost, both from an economic as well as from a consumer behavioral point of view.

The main-subobjectives of this PhD position are:

  • Studying existing downscaling method for environmental sustainability targets (for example of carbon budgets)
  • Defining a downscaled carbon and material footprint target for the need systems of thermal comfort and transport in Flanders based on current global or Flemish targets
  • Quantifying the carbon and material footprint of the current need systems of thermal comfort and transport in Flanders
  • Assessing the carbon and material footprint reduction of specific demand-side measures for the need systems of thermal comfort and transport in Flanders

In this PhD position, you will work in close collaboration with colleagues at Ghent University in the Sustainable Systems Engineering research group and with the other DEER partners in the Environmental Economics research groups of Ghent and Antwerp University and the Center for Social Sciences of Antwerp University. Furthermore, there is a diverse international advisory board (e.g., Vlaanderen Circulair, Flemish Government, VITO, Mobiel21,, IIASA, Bond Beter Leefmilieu, international professors from different disciplines …) to interact with. Part of the work can be done via teleworking.

The scientific findings should lead to publications in international peer reviewed journals and should be presented at international conferences.

The start date is planned at October 1st 2024. The PhD duration is four years.

Job Profile

Candidates are expected to have a background in engineering (bioscience, materials, chemistry …) and/or an affinity for (prospective) sustainability and/circularity analysis. We are looking for candidates with a critical and analytical attitude and a sense of initiative.

Other profile requirements:

  • You hold a master’s degree in environmental engineering, bioscience engineering, chemical engineering, materials engineering, environmental technology or equivalent.
  • The degree requirements must be met at the start of the appointment;
  • You have an interest in scientific research;
  • You can operate both independently and in a multidisciplinary team;
  • You have organisational/managerial skills and are highly motivated;
  • You have good writing and presentation skills;
  • You have good communication skills and are interested in involving multiple stakeholders;
  • You like to think on a conceptual level about broader sustainability topics such as a circular economy or a low-carbon society
  • You master the English language, written and orally, in an academic context;
  • Having experience with quantitative research is essential;

Additional plus points:

  • You have experience with prospective sustainability assessments;
  • You have experience with LCA software such as SimaPro, openLCA, GaBi, etc.;
  • You have experience with circularity indicators and material flow analysis
  • You have experience with sustainability/circularity assessments of thermal comfort and/or transports;
  • You have experience with the development and comparison of different value chain scenarios;
  • You have experience with demand-side measures and the environmental impact of consumer behavior;
  • You have experience with the development of conceptual methodologies
  • You have experience with policy-directed research
  • You have experience with programming languages (e.g. Python)
  • You have experience with environmentally extended input-output models

How to apply

Apply by sending ultimately June 17th an email to [email protected] as follows:

  • Mention in subject line: “Daikin – Application name surname”.
  • Attach into 1 single pdf file:
    • Item 1: Cover letter
    • Item 2: CV
    • Item 3: contact details of 1 or 2 reference persons.
    • Item 4:  ‘Diploma’ items, e.g. an overview of your study results, transcript of the required degree (if already in your possession). If you have a foreign diploma in a language other than our national languages (Dutch, French or German) or English, please add a translation in one of the mentioned languages.

Note that the maximum file size is 10 MB.

Selection procedure:

1. Preselection based on the provided documents.

2. Selection based on interviews.

As Ghent University maintains an equal opportunities and diversity policy, everyone is encouraged to apply for this position.

For more information about the content of this position, please contact [email protected].

To apply for this job please visit

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