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About DS2BE

Doctoral Seminars on Sustainability
in the Built Environment

DS²BE is a joint doctoral seminar on sustainability research in the built environment, co-organized by research centres from eight Belgian universities. It is a platform for PhD students to present their work and discuss the content with a broad panel of experts for feed-back and furthering their research. During 2014, 3 such seminars were held. The initiative is now reorganised into a 2-day conference and will be held for the eight time as DS²BE 2024.


Aims and Rationale


Given the urgency of addressing climate change and sustainability issues related to the built environment, the recent proliferation of sustainability research in this regard, and after discussion with colleagues at various universities, we have evolved a consensus on taking the initiative of setting up doctoral seminars dedicated to sustainability research. Following are the main aims, objectives and rationale for this initiative:

  • To organize PhD Seminars as a platform for those PhD researchers whose work engages the built environment (at different scale, i.e. from the scale of materials, building elements, to urban form) in the framework of sustainability.

  • To provide a structured way of providing feedback to ongoing PhDs within partner universities’ research groups on sustainability, for which no such arrangement exists.

  • By opening it up with a few other partners (research groups working on SBE in other Universities), these seminars will allow PhD students to exchange viewpoints about different methodologies, modes of research, case studies, and results.

  • PhDs will receive a valuable feedback not only from their (co)supervisors, peers, but also from experts from invited partner institutions as well.

  • Increase the visibility of Sustainability research at different scales in different universities across Belgium, and establish a platform for a productive dialogue on various issues related to working towards sustainable built environments.

  • Networking for collaboration, combining synergies, and joint preparation for potential local, regional, National, and EU funded research projects.





Presentations can cover topics as diverse as:

  • Sustainable Architecture - Resource Use and Sustainable Design, Energy efficiency and Sufficiency, Materials, Re-cycling / re-use, Building elements and envelope, History and Theory, Vernacular architecture, Bioclimatic design, Biomimetic and integrated design, Building Physics and thermal comfort...

  • Sustainability Theory - Sustainability science, the 3 Pillars, Climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, Resilience, Transition, Circularity, Systems and Complexity theories…

  • Sustainable Urbanism - Urban design, urban form, urban futures, Landscape and ecology, green infrastructure and ecosystem services, nature-based solutions, Land-use, Public space, Density, Housing, Infrastructure and transportation, Retrofitting and regeneration, and Research by Design….

  • Sustainability Analysis and Assessment - Sustainability / Environmental Assessment at building and neighborhood scales, and at the scale of city and regions; Methodologically oriented PhDs focusing on issues related to LCA (Life Cycle Analysis), I-O (Input-Output Analysis), MFA (Material Flow Analysis), simulation techniques, to exploring urban metabolism, industrial ecology, to environmental modeling, Scenario building (fore-casting and back-casting, etc.), and GIS-based land-use change modeling…




The doctoral seminar takes place once a year during two days, co-organized by two universities. The location of the event changes every year. Before the event, a call for papers / presentations is launched. The candidates send in an extended abstract, along with their presentation, which is reviewed by the scientific committee. Distinction will be made between straters and more advanced PhD researchers. The selection committee is composed specifically in order to ensure an equal representation of disciplines, institutions and regions.


During the event several types of interaction take place:

  • Presentations - Plenary and thematic groups in which starters (short) and advanced (long) PhD researchers present their work to a group of participants and expert panel, followed by a short round of questions and discussion.​

  • Guest speakers - Eminent experts are invited to give lectures on specific aspects of sustainability in the built environment.

  • Social events and awards


Organising Universities
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