PhD scholarship in Circular Construction Platforms (CircOp)

Wednesday 14 Sep 22

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Project title:
Circular Construction Platform for accelerating and scaling the sustainable transformation of construction within planetary boundaries.

Project background:
The construction sector has been key in building our modern societies, and today's increasing population and urbanization create global demand for construction. But in absolute measures, current construction practices are unsustainable as these contribute to the exceedance of absolute environmental boundaries and resource supply horizons. Thus the construction industry is standing on the threshold of a sustainable transformation towards a circular economy.

This shift requires a high degree of collaboration between stakeholders along the value chain, such as investors, project developers, architects, resource providers and many more. It also takes data-driven approaches to align industry strategies with global planetary boundaries. Only in this way can industries, like the construction industry, set actionable, ambitious, and foremost sufficient goals to stay in line with societal requirements and ecological possibilities.  

Realdania, DTU Management, and DTUs centre for absolute sustainability has granted funding for a PhD project to research the development and implementation of construction platforms for the circular economy. We are looking for the right candidate for this PhD project.

Project scope: 
The PhD project will be a core part of the larger Circular Construction Platforms (CircOp) program. The program aims to transform the industry from short-term projects based on a fragmented supply and value chain to lasting circular platforms based on reversed, coordinated, and integrated supply chains built to scale.

The overall objectives of the CircOp program are to:

  • accelerate productivity development of circular solutions by increasing value delivery while driving down costs systematically across the various parts of the value chain.
  • develop, mature and document platforms for circular construction representing coordinated and integrated value chains.
  • contribute to developing an industrial symbiosis for circularity construction materials in greater Copenhagen.
  • create evidence for productivity improvement around circular solutions in construction.

The PhD project will be affiliated with DTU’s Centre for Absolut Sustainability and will address the CircOp objectives by leveraging the frameworks and guiding questions from the centre:

  • Systemic Modelling: "Where should we go?"
  • Systematic Engineering: "How should we get there?"
  • Strategic implementation: "What should we do to get there?"

The PhD project includes four overall objectives: 

  • to model the sustainable operating space for construction companies and identify barriers to the implementation of circular practices in the construction sector
  • to engineer circular platform models based on insights from industry and theory
  • to implement platforms in collaboration with four business partners
  • to document and manage the platforms to enable their replication in other industries

To achieve this, the project will include as well academically and industrial activities like:

  • Modelling sustainability platform budgets for 1-2 relevant dimensions like GHG emissions.
  • Identifying key barriers to the effective implementation of circular practices in the construction sector
  • Analyzing modes of collaboration between stakeholders within the construction industry
  • Developing a new platform framework paving the way for joint innovations of stakeholders
  • Integrating technological possibilities and limitations into the operation of the developed platform frameworks
  • Merging theoretical domains of materials assessment, platforms and business models and thereby supporting the transformation towards a circular construction industry
  • Identifying innovative solutions and new competencies that enable the construction industry to take part and co-create the emerging circular economy market
  • Showcasing ten circular solutions with business cases in collaboration with business partners
  • Developing case studies to document results for society at large and enable the replicability of results
  • Writing academic articles in leading international conferences and journals
  • Organizing ongoing industry workshops with CirOp Partners
  • Supervising student projects targeting the objectives of the program activities

The team behind:
The PhD student will officially be employed by DTU Management. The academic supervision team counts Associate Professor Christian Thuesen (DTU Management) and professor Michael Hauschild  (DTU Sustain). In addition, the student will have unprecedented access to CircOp industry partners and complementary platforms for Materials (RGS Nordic), Secondary Building Materials (Næste), New Buildings (GXN), and Refurbishment (E&P).

You are
Business savvy, interested in the sustainable transition and the interplay between technology, circular economy, humans and business. You have a relevant academic degree, it could be within areas of engineering, economy or environment and you are passionate about conducting pioneering and forward-looking research? Go for it. 

You must have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see DTU's rules for the PhD education

The assessment of the applicants will be made by the academic supervisors in collaboration with the industry partners of CircOp.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
We are looking forward to receiving your expression of interest now. As we have been granted the funds for the PhD project, we will initiate interviews with potential applicants as soon as possible. We envisage the PhD project start as soon as possible e.g. December 2022.

The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Christian Thuesen (

You can read more about DTU Management at

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark. Furthermore, you have the option of joining our monthly free seminar "PhD relocation to Denmark and startup "Zoom" seminar" for all questions regarding the practical matters of moving to Denmark and working as a PhD at DTU.   

Application procedure
Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 28 September 2022 (Danish time). Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae (including publication list if applicable)
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma (in English) including official description of grading scale
  • Name for potential reference contacts

You may apply prior to ob­tai­ning your master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

Who are we?
DTU Management conducts excellent research in the intersection between man-agement, technology and economics. We develop solutions in close cooperation with companies and public authorities. Our research aims at strengthening welfare, productivity and sustainability within the society. A key element is the role of tech-nology and its interaction with industry and individuals. The department offers a wide range of courses and programs at bachelor, master and PhD level across DTU's study programs. The department has around 200 employees, 50% coming from abroad. The centre for absolute sustainability is a cross-departmental initiative at DTU and bears the mission of fostering research and innovation, to support fact-based strategic sustainability decision-making in Denmark and internationally. By bringing leading experts on assessment and engineering approaches together in an orchestrated collaboration, not seen before in any research organisation, globally, the Centre will strengthen and consolidate sustainability competencies at DTU and enable ground-breaking research results within technology-focused environmental sustainability transition.

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 13,400 students and 5,800 employees. We work in an international atmos-phere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate with the best universities around the world.