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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions


2050 is the deadline for Green House Gas emissions in the UK to be reduced by 80% against the 1990 baseline. Over a quarter of these emissions are attributable to the 26 million properties within the residential sector with over 4 million homes being maintained and managed by social housing registered providers. It is estimated that approximately 80% of these dwellings will still be in use in 2050 and the UK Government advocates deep retrofitting of the existing housing stock to help meet the carbon reduction targets.

Part of the Government’s industrial strategy also supports the acceleration of the adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) as an efficient and collaborative way of working throughout the UK construction supply chain. This research seeks to establish if the innovative use of BIM has, to date, been accepted within the UK social housing sector with respect to retrofitting works and endeavours to identify new areas and roles where BIM may contribute to the retrofit 2050 challenge.

The research methodology used was an exploratory sequential mixed method approach with data being collected from senior professionals working within the social housing retrofit supply chain by semi-structured interviews and an online questionnaire. Thematic analysis was undertaken to identify ideas and patterns within the resulting datasets.
The findings indicate that the current position is BIM could be employed throughout the whole-life of a retrofitted property from the initial design and construction stages through to playing a pivotal role in the management of the asset including the utilisation of SMART data and encouraging collaborative engagement with all stakeholders including end users.
However, if the diffusion of BIM within the social housing sector is to be successful with respect to retrofitting works then BIM cannot be adopted in isolation and innovative developments in cloud technology, geomatics and the introduction of complementary software may also need to be accepted together with a change in the perception of BIM by actors within the sector.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.