The Built Environment research program forges collaborations among disciplines with similar interests and among industry, alumni, and international partners.

The aim of the group is to facilitate advanced research in all aspects of sustainable built environment through designing efficient buildings, planning smart cities, creating more liveable places, adopting smart technologies, managing construction projects and life performance of construction materials and components.

Zora Vrcelj, Engineering

Research areas

News on the changing environments in our worlds’ cities continues to lay down the research agenda for environmental design and urbanisation.

This research cluster aims to help Built Environments to become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. This research group also aims to build capacity of individuals, communities, businesses, institutions and systems in a city to survive, adapt and grow under urbanisation and environmental degradations.

Examples include:

  • Sustainable built environment
  • Healthy communities
  • Climate and water sensitive urban design
  • Sustainable transport system
  • Active transportation
  • Climate change and outdoor thermal comfort
  • Sustainable-green building design for changing climate.



The construction industry is facing a period of change. Rapid digital transformation of the construction sector, sustainability awareness, rising material and labour costs, increased competition and shrinking profit margins are some of the contemporary global challenges.

Construction research in the Built Environment program focuses on a wide variety of topics related to the design and construction of building and infrastructure project.

Examples include:

  • Digitalisation and new technologies in construction (BIM, AR, VR, AI)
  • Sustainable Materials
  • Waste in Construction Materials
  • Sustainable green construction and infrastructure
  • Risk, health, and safety
  • Fire protection for infrastructure projects, Economy and cost (value for money).


Building technology is a predictive science that models building performance. At the same time, it also a forensic science that explains building failures and how those can be avoided.

To build sustainably, it is critical that behaviour of buildings is precisely understood and accurately simulated. This approach avoids the costly penalties of rectifying building defects, or creating built environments that are unfit for purpose.

To address these needs, the research group is working on the following topics:

  • Building structural performance: artificial intelligence for the failure prediction of building structures and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning) systems, deterioration modelling of structural and systems;
  • Healthy buildings: building energy and condensation risk analysis, mould risk factors in contemporary building design, biotoxin illness in water damaged buildings, moisture-related building defects; and
  • IAQ (Indoor Air Quality): impact of climate change on ventilation performance, impact of ventilation strategies on aerosol airborne transmission in different indoor environments, impact of passive design on thermal comfort;
  • High performance buildings: building energy simulation, hygrothermal simulations, life cycle structural analysis.


Organisations operating within the 21st century have to cope with accelerating change in technologies and increased level of competition on a global scale.

In order to remain competitive within this volatile business environment, companies are forced to constantly employ new strategies to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Projects play very important roles in assisting organisations in achieving their goals and strategies. This research group aims to build capacity in helping organisations with different aspects of managing projects.

Examples include:

  • Project planning
  • Use of advanced technologies and information systems
  • Management decision making.


Research projects

Planetary health projects

The following projects have received support from VU's planetary health initiative:

  • Fire Resilient Durable and Sustainable Geopolymer Concrete made with Recycled Materials for Concrete Tunnel Construction and 3D Concrete Printing 
  • Sustainable infrastructure - engineering & science, health and business innovation 
  • Experimental development and characterization of eco-bricks and panels made from take-away coffee cups and plastics
  • Developing VU into a green, sustainable and climate smart campus.

VU RISE projects

VU RISE projects include:

Other projects

  • Development of a systematic regulatory framework for optimising the construction process of a building to minimise defects, VBA collaboration 
  • Rating tool to evaluate sustainable practices of small-scale infrastructure projects in Australia
  • Green Our Rooftop Project, City of Melbourne 
  • Drivers of Users’ Embracement of 3D Digital Educational Spaces in Higher Education: A Qualitative Approach, Research Support Grant SCU.

Staff & students

Contact details for our staff and students. Find out more via links to our researcher biographies.


Name Contact details Research interests

Associate Professor Zora Vrcelj

Head of Built Environment Discipline

[email protected]

+61 3 9919 4459

Sustainable structures and building materials

Digitalisation in construction

Advanced composite structures

Structural stability

Engineering mechanics

Dr Malindu Sandanayake

Course Chair (NHCM)

[email protected]

+61 3 9919 5746

Building and Construction

Carbon neutral construction

Building Information Modelling

Construction Management

Smart Technology

Dr Yanni Bouras

[email protected]

+61 3 9919 5734

Structural mechanics and stability

Sustainable materials

High strength steel

Thermal effects on structures

Infrastructure sustainability

Dr Melissa Chan

[email protected]

+61 3 9919 4484

Sustainable infrastructure

Strategic procurement

Occupational health and safety

Sustainability in the built environment

Dr Elmira Jamei

Course Chair (NBBD)

[email protected]

+61 3 9919 5847

Sustainable Built Environment

Smart Cities and urban informatics

Climate Change, Urban Heat Island, and Heat Mitigation Techniques

Planning for Healthy Communities

Sustainable Transportation Systems

Energy Retrofication, Energy Auditing, and Indoor Thermal Comfort

Green Building Design

Dr Hing Wah Chau

[email protected]

+61 3 9919 4784

 Sustainability and Built Environment

Architectural Design

Urban Design

Design for ageing and inclusive design

Design for health and wellbeing

Dr Tim Law

Course Chair (NBBS

[email protected]
+61 3 9919 6373


Hygrothermal analysis

Building physics

Building microbiology

Indoor air quality

Environmental health

Water-damaged buildings


Dr Nima Izadyar

[email protected]

+61 415 463 615

Building design optimisation

Building energy efficiency

Indoor air quality

Computational fluid dynamics

Thermal comfort

Dr Amir Ghapanchi

Course Chair (NMPM)

[email protected]

+613 9919 4668

IT Project Management

Information Systems Adoption

Technology/innovation diffusion and planning

Decision making

Associate Professor Paul Joseph

[email protected]

+61 432 140 020

Organic/polymer syntheses and characterisation

Combustion chemistry and toxicity

Chemical modification of polymers to confer flame retardance

Recycling of plastics and cellulosic materials; energy from waste; greener technologies

Combustion of ligno-cellulosic materials and bush fire



Thesis topic

Lisa Sahyoune

Exploring the Dynamics of User Adoption of the Virtual Reality Technology in Engineering and Construction Projects

Mina Ranjbaran

Passive design strategies to minimise energy consumption in residential buildings across different climate zones in Australia

Robert Haigh

Engineered mortar and concrete composites using fibres derived from recycled cardboard

Walid Ahmed

Development of a systematic framework to reduce defects in Australian's construction projects

Shiran Geng

An Urban Identity Assessment Framework to Establish Smarter Urban Heritage – with A Focus on Spatial Attributes

Abdul Majid Memon

Sustainable retrofitting to improve energy efficiency and indoor air quality of existing residential houses in Victoria

Noushin Islam

Factors affecting waste management on large infrastructure projects in Australia


  • Dr M. Ghiji (Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Vasily Novozhilov, Khalid Moinuddin, Paul Joseph)
  • Dr J. V. Karakkat (Visiting Fellow: Daniel Lai, Kulmira Nurgali, Paul Joseph)

Partners, funders & collaborators

We collaborate with a number of high-profile private and public organisations, and Australian universities.

  • Deakin University
  • Swinburne University of Technology
  • RMIT University
  • La Salle University
  • University of Technology Sydney
  • University of Sunshine Coast
  • Deakin University
  • University of Melbourne
  • Monash University
  • Western Sydney University
  • UNSW.

  • ARUP
  • BrightCell Energy Co
  • Builders Academy Australia
  • Built
  • ClosedLoop
  • Ecologiq
  • Hendry Group
  • Maribyrnong City Council
  • Master Builders
  • Mathematical Institute of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Science
  • McKenzie Group
  • Multiplex
  • OCConnections Enterprise
  • Probuild
  • Simonds Group
  • Social Outcomes Solutions
  • The Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISC)
  • Transurban
  • Tyre Stewardship
  • Victorian Building Authority (VBA)
  • Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA)
  • Wyndham City Council.