The development, testing and validating of a technical design guide for ‘Cardiff Living’ Nearly/Zero Energy Dwellings for Sale and Rent (PhD Scholarship)


The development, testing and validating of a technical design guide for ‘Cardiff Living’ Nearly/Zero Energy Dwellings for Sale and Rent

Director of Studies:         Dr Carolyn Hayles (Academic Lead)

Project Team:                    Dr John Littlewood (Academic Supervisor)

Mr Stuart Jones (Lead Company Supervisor)

Project outline:

This KESS2 project is in collaboration with Wates Residential Welsh office in Cardiff; and builds on Dr Carolyn Hayles research in sustainable, affordable housing, which has focussed on reducing carbon consumption in domestic dwellings; and Dr John Littlewood’s research in building performance assessment of dwellings; and work being undertaken by their current KESS2 project, developing and validating thermal bridge details for nearly zero carbon timber frame dwellings.

Wates is one of the UK’s largest family owned construction organisations and was established in 1897. Wates Residential specialises in high quality dwellings that respond to the needs of its customers by developing mixed tenure housing schemes in partnership with both public and private sector organisations.

Wates Residential are the delivery partner for the 1500 dwellings (40% affordable and 60% for sale) being designed and developed for Cardiff City Council’s ‘Cardiff Living’ project, to be completed by 2027. The ethos of Wates Residential for the Cardiff Living dwellings is that they are designed to be 17% more energy efficient than current new housing regulated by Welsh Building Regulations.

The UK Government’s aspirations are to halve the amount of energy used in new buildings by 2030, which includes housing. In 2019, the Welsh Government published its ‘Prosperity for All: A Low Carbon Wales’ strategy, which has a direct impact upon all new housing from 2020.  The impact will be to legislate that all new housing submitted for planning permission developed from 2020 will have to achieve nearly zero carbon or nearly zero energy use.  Furthermore, from 2025 the UK Government has legislated that there will no longer be any natural gas which can be used for heating in new homes, only electric heating. These strategies have a direct impact upon the design, construction and operation of housing and the estates in which they are built. In addition, whilst traditional construction that is currently adopted by Wates Residential mitigates overheating, this construction system has inherent problems and therefore there are challenges for Wates Residential to investigate.  As climate change means that summers like 2018 are to become more common the challenge is to construct a timber frame off-site manufacturing system which does not overheat.

The focus of this KESS2 project will be to develop Wales’ first model for nearly zero energy dwellings to be implemented by the Cardiff Living project at scale; in a range of house types in terms of their layout, materials, sustainable off-site manufacturing construction systems and estate energy strategy. This is in order to mitigate against climate change challenges and lead to improved occupant comfort and wellbeing, for both Cardiff Living’s affordable housing for rent and the private housing for sale in and around Cardiff.

Subject to the commencement date, the proposed work is detailed here:

WP1: Literature review 00/19-01/22; WP2: Evaluation of the ‘Cardiff Living’ dwellings environmental performance and occupant feedback 11/19-09/20; WP3: Analysis and production of pilot design guide and models for nearly zero energy housing 06/20-11/20; WP4: Implementation of the design guide and evaluation 09/20–08/21; WP5 Analysis and refinement of a design guide 09/21-12/21; WP6 Dissemination and training with stakeholders 01/20-01/22; WP7: Thesis completion and examination 02/22-08/22.

Applicants must have a good first degree in a discipline such as Architecture, Architectural Technology or similar Building Design or Surveying, or a relevant science subject.  Ideally, applicants will also have a relevant Master’s degree.  The project will involve visually assessing construction details (on paper and in-situ); testing construction fabric using thermography; monitoring thermal comfort with sensors; engaging with occupants through interviews; and evaluating heating bills liaising with utility companies. So knowledge of architectural science and physical monitoring; building design and construction details, building surveying; heating and ventilation systems; data analytical; and people skills are highly desirable.  Some applied experience in relevant field and good written and verbal communication skills are essential. Data collection will be carried out within the operational areas of Wates Residential in and around Cardiff, and it is important that the student has a valid driving licence.

Application deadline: 3rd September 2019

Details of the scholarship

The scholarship offers all eligible participants (student):

  • KESS PhD Scholarship holders do not pay fees
  • A monthly stipend in line with UKRI rates: 3 years of funding at £14,628 (2019/20) per year for PhD, subject to yearly increments
  • An additional budget to support your research of £3,000 for travel, conference attendance, minor equipment, consumables and training
  • An opportunity to access a suite of higher level skills training & attendance at a residential KESS Grad School
  • A minimum of 30 days a year working with the company partner on their allocated project
  • Students must complete & submit their thesis within 3.5 years for PhD
  • All participants must complete the KESS Postgraduate Skills Development Award

To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants should have UK or EU Citizenship, and be resident in the competitive area of Wales on appointment (or be studying in or working in the competitive area immediately prior to starting the project) and should have the right to work in the region on qualification. Residence confirmed by providing documents such as driver’s licence, tenancy agreement or recent statement from bank or building society.

The map for the eligible East area can be​ found here​.  NB: The map also illustrates other assisted areas in the UK, however only the East Wales (areas of Wales which are not shaded) is eligible in this project.

To obtain an application form (Participant Application Form) and for further information regarding KESS2 at Cardiff Metropolitan, Please click here

To apply, please submit completed application form to Dr Carolyn Hayles


Interviews for this post will take place in the week beginning the 16th September with a proposed commencement date of end of September.

Funding Notes:

Supported by Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships 2 (KESS2) which is an All Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) Competitive programme for East Wales.