Postdoc in “Development of forest-based by-products materials for climate neutral buildings” in Zürich

Studierende finden an der ETH Zürich ein Umfeld, das eigenständiges Denken fördert, Forschende ein Klima, das zu Spitzenleistungen inspiriert.


80%-100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The Chair of Sustainable Construction at ETH Zurich intends to ground sustainability in the disciplines of the built environment. The objective is to identify the relevant parameters that influence the environmental impacts of buildings at international, national and regional levels in order to implement sustainable practices throughout the development of innovative strategies adapted to each actor. This involves interdisciplinary works and draws on Life Cycle Assessment, urban metabolism and material science.

The postdoc lasts two years and could be prolonged with a common agreement between the head of the group and you. Furthermore, assuming further funding can be acquired. We seek to start on March 1, 2023 or by agreement.


Project background

Context: The climate crisis is urging us to act fast. Buildings are a key leverage point to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the embodied emissions related to their construction and renovation remain often the hidden challenge of any ambitious policy. Vegetarian architecture has immense potential to reduce these emissions. Building with biomaterials can sequester carbon in productive forests, stores carbon in long-lived buildings substitutes carbon-intense materials (e.g., concrete, steel) and reduces energy-related emissions in the built environment. Mainstreaming wood construction has cross-sectoral implications, including wood supply (especially under changing climatic conditions), the development and adoption of new materials and processes, relevant standards, and new design and retrofitting concepts.

The project “Mainstreaming wood in construction” involves ETH Zurich, Empa, WSL, and EPF Lausanne in an interdisciplinary research project to provide the scientific basis to leverage the transition to a construction bio-economy across the wood supply chain in Switzerland. Drawing on the expertise of the four ETH Domain institutions, the research encompasses forest dynamics and production under climate change, scenarios of material use and flows, new construction materials, development of new design and AI approaches to maximise resource use efficiencies, life cycle assessment evaluating impacts on carbon emissions and biodiversity, and costing models. The project aims to identify key leverage points in the value chain to scale wood construction and to deliver environmentally optimal Swiss wood use scenarios. We will apply environmental, economic, technical, societal, and political research across the wood value chain to construct the understanding of the interdependent systems that are required for transformative change across the wood construction supply chain. The diverse array of expertise across the four research institutions will be further informed by the private sector and NGO partners, enabling us to collectively explore options for contributing to net-zero carbon by transitioning to mass timber construction.

In this project, you will be in charge of developing new non-structural bio-based materials made out of currently untapped resources from the forest. The development of such material has to be linked with a resource assessment in terms of the long-term availability of the resource (involving MFA), an environmental assessment of the developed product (involving LCA) and a strong material science expertise as the core of the work consist of material development.

The Chair of Sustainable Construction has a strong experience in clay and low-carbon cement alternative that can be used as a binder for bio-based aggregates, therefore, we envision the development of such products as light earth material, but we are open to other binding techniques propositions (e.g. Mycelium).

Job description

You love to develop grounded solutions, are curious about other disciplines and are rooted in material development from material science, civil engineering or architecture fields. The work is in close collaboration with other research groups in the project. In particular the groups from I. Burgert (wood science), A. Frangi (wood structure) and Y. Weinand (digital wood architecture), who are part of the same WP. 

Your profile

PhD in civil or environmental engineering or architecture or similar

Your workplace
Your workplace

We offer

We offer to work on an exciting project carried out in an interdisciplinary environment with civil engineers, material and environmental scientists and architects. The Chair of Sustainable Construction is an interdisciplinary group of 10 to 15 people. In the group, we welcome home office on regular basis.

We value diversity
In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.
Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • a cover letter that describes the candidate’s motivation and research experience
  • a CV
  •  a list of publications
  • name and address/contact details of two referees

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.
For further questions please contact Prof. Dr Guillaume Habert ( (Please do not send applications). More information about the Chair of Sustainable Construction is available .

About ETH Zürich
ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

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