PhD Candidate in Building Energy Modelling

Trondheim, Norway
01 Nov 2020
End of advertisement period
30 Nov 2020
Academic Discipline
Arts & Humanities, Architecture
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

We have a vacancy for a 3-year PhD scholarship within the research group “Energy and Environment” at the Department of Architecture and Technology (IAT) on the topic of “Building energy modelling for optimal building management thorough model-predictive control”. The Energy and Environment group is a core member of the national Research Center on Zero Emission Neighborhoods in Smart Cities (ZEN), a cooperation with SINTEF, other faculties at NTNU, and industrial partners (

This PhD is financed by the ZEN centre, in particular under the activities of Work Package 4 "Energy flexible neighborhoods".  

On the research activity

The PhD research investigates building modelling techniques, and in particular the role of data-driven modelling of building components and HVAC systems, in order to use them in model predictive based controls to activate the thermal energy flexibility of buildings. Key research areas will be: thermodynamics of buildings, building performance simulation, model predictive control (MPC), system identification, and data-driven modelling techniques. Furthermore, there will be the possibility to perform experimental studies on the ZEN center's living labs and pilots.

You will report to the head of department.

Duties of the position

Decarbonization of the energy system, in particular the power system, requires flexible energy demand that shall be responsive to signals from the grid (e.g. price signals) in order to optimize the match between demand and supply. In this paradigm, neighborhoods and buildings are active nodes of the grid, capable of offering significant flexibility. A large and inexpensive potential for flexibility lies in the activation of a building's thermal mass, through smart operation of its HVAC system and integrated building envelope systems, while safeguarding the users' comfort. Model Predictive Control (MPC) has proven to be an effective technique, where reliable building envelope models and HVAC system models are prerequisite, especially in real-time applications.

Thus, multiple levels in the energy demand system – from aggregators to neighborhoods to buildings and its components – can be operated in a hierarchy of model-based control and optimization problems. Each level optimizes or controls its portfolio by computing reference signals for its subsystems. Considerable research has been performed at the level of aggregators, neighborhoods and buildings, especially for the characterization of conventional building envelopes as a whole.

Nevertheless, research is still needed to exploit the potentials of the lowest levels in the hierarchy, namely HVAC systems and integrated building envelope systems. In particular, non-intrusive, automated and inexpensive modelling techniques need to be developed and tested. Different modelling approaches and possibilities can be investigated, such as data-driven modelling from ambient sensors and energy meters, in order to allow robust and reliable implementations. A key question to address is the tradeoff between the model complexity and the model robustness (fit-for-purpose), considering the large uncertainty that often occur when virtual representations of buildings are constructed.

To enhance the research activities and assure a link with the scientific community, two international engagement activities are planned in connection with the PhD project:

  • A research stay in one of the ZEN centre's international partners that have developed world-leading expertise in these areas: e.g. DTU, KU Leuven, Fraunhofer ISE.
  • Active participation in the IEA EBC Annex 81 "Data-driven Smart Buildings".

Required selection criteria

The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is that you have completed a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in (but not limited to) building physics, HVAC systems of buildings, energy engineering, automation and control engineering, or applied mathematics (specifically in control and model identification) or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic foundation. If you are unable to meet these criteria you may be considered only if you can document that you are particularly suitable for education leading to a PhD degree.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant.

Preferred selection criteria

  • The candidate should present a strong interest for the modelling and simulation of complex dynamic systems as well as their control.
  • Prior research or professional experience with the aforementioned disciplines is an advantage.
  • The candidate should be proficient in programming in general, and prior knowledge of Python and/or MATLAB, as well as LabVIEW will be highly appreciated.
  • Knowledge of software tools for building performance simulation is an advantage.
  • Excellent communications skills in English are necessary due to the international links of the PhD project.

Personal characteristics

  • High level of personal responsibility and initiative
  • Ability to work independently as well as part of a team in accordance with the project objectives
  • Ability to work in interdisciplinary projects and teams
  • Suitable candidates should have good communication skills, be flexible and solution-oriented

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 479 600 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Architecture within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

The position is subject to external funding provided by the FME Centre on Zero Emission Neighborhoods in Smart Cities (ZEN).

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

The application must include :

  • CV, certificates and diplomas
  • Research plan or project proposal based on the short description of the PhD position presented in this announcement.
  • Academic works - published or unpublished - that you would like to be considered in the assessment (up to 5 works)
  • Name and address of three referees

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. 

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Professor Francesco Goia, tel. +47 45027437, email:; Professor Arild Gustavsen tel: +4799363674, email: For the work in ZEN, Senior Scientist Igor Sartori at SINTEF Building and Infrastructure, tel. +47 984 86 121, email: If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact HR advisor Natalia Swahn, e-mail:

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number 2020/34773 when applying.

Application deadline: 30.11.2020.

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Architecture and Technology

Our goal is to develop coherent and sustainable architecture of high quality. We work with form, theory and history, building materials and building structures, and energy-efficient and sustainable buildings. Our activities also include the preservation and development of traditional building craft skills. The Department of Architecture and Technology is one of four departments in the Faculty of Architecture and Design.

Deadline 30th November 2020
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service