PhD Scholarship Opportunity – Enhancing Resilience of Aged Care Systems to Climate Change: Retrofitting Buildings and Sociocultural Systems

PhD Scholarship Opportunity $AUS24 653 per year (3 years max)

Enhancing Resilience of Aged Care Systems to Climate Change: Retrofitting Buildings and Sociocultural Systems
With ageing and urbanising populations in affluent countries, and rising costs of care, it is urgent to enhance the resilience of aged-care systems to climate change. Climate change has a number of connected implications for aged-care, including increasing energy costs in heating and cooling, and the vulnerability of elderly people to extreme weather events such as heat waves. The aged care sector is under increased pressure to become more environmentally sustainable yet meet regulatory standards that often demand increased use of energy for lighting or heating/cooling. The broad project aim is to enhance the economic, social, cultural and environmental resilience of aged-care facilities by retrofitting buildings and sociocultural systems.

The project is funded as an interdisciplinary UOW Partnerships Project between the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER), the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) and Warrigal Care NSW. The UOW Chief Investigators include geographers (Profs Lesley Head and Gordon Waitt) and engineers (Prof. Paul Cooper, Dr Lan Ding).

Specific aims are to:

  1. compare social and technological aspects of thermal comfort and energy efficiency for residents of aged care facilities;
  2. analyse regulatory and institutional governance and everyday aspects of aged care as they relate to thermal comfort and energy use;
  3. identify existing adaptive capacity in carer, manager and resident behaviours;
  4. undertake before-and-after evaluation of technical and social retrofit solutions implemented by the aged care provider(s) when necessary;
  5. develop technical and practice-based recommendations to assist the aged care sector maintain residential thermal comfort while improving energy efficiency.

We seek a PhD student with First Class Honours or equivalent in human geography, anthropology, science and technology studies, architecture, building physics or related disciplines. Applicants will need to demonstrate research training such as evident in a substantial thesis characterised by primary research. Experience in using in-depth interview and/or ethnography is desirable, as are the personal qualities to interact well with elderly people. Experience and interest in sustainability and sustainable buildings is also desirable.

Applicants should submit a letter outlining their suitability for this research, the nature of their research training and any thesis completed as part of their study so far, a CV, and academic transcripts for all degrees. Send these documents in a single pdf to Ms Denise Alsop ( by July 25, 2013.

The successful applicant will be enrolled in a PhD in Human Geography or Engineering at the University of Wollongong, depending on background. The scholarship is open to Australian and International applicants. For further information about the project, please contact Prof Lesley Head (

Further information about the University, AUSCCER and SBRC can be found via:

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