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     DS²BE - 1         DS²BE - 2           DS²BE - 3           DS²BE 2015           DS2BE 2016           DS2BE 2017






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 starting with DS²BE 2017 to be held on April 26th & 27th. 



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, 

  • Resources, materials, re-cycling / re-use, building elements, sustainable architecture, drawing lessons from vernacular, bioclimatic design, building physics….
  • Sustainability theory, sustainability / environmental assessment at building and neighborhood scales,
  • Sustainable urbanism, landscape and urban ecology, Water urbanism, retrofitting of buildings to the built environment,
  • Methodologically oriented PhDs focusing on issues related to LCA, I-O, MFA, simulation techniques, to Urban metabolism, industrial ecology, environmental modeling, land-use change, to BIO-, Integrated-, and Research by-, design, etc.





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 two 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.



Participating Partner Universities


Université Libre de Bruxelles

  • BATir (Prof. Ahmed Z. Khan, and Prof. Philippe Bouillard) ;
  • Fac. Arch. (Prof. Luisa Moretto, Prof. Geoffrey Grulois, Prof. Bernard Deprez, Sebastian Moreno-Vacca) ;
  • IGEAT (Prof. Wouter Achten, and Prof. Gregory)

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

  • AE lab (Prof. Niels De Temmerman) ;
  • Cartography & GIS (Prof. Frank Canters) ;
  • Hydrology (Prof. Marijke Huysmans)

K. University of Leuven

  • Department of Architecture (Prof. Karen Allacker, Prof. Frank De Troyer)
  • Faculty of Engineering Science

U. C. Louvain

  • LOCI – Architecture et Climat (Prof. André De Herde, Arnaud EVRARD, Geoffrey Van Moeseke);
  • URBA(n) (Prof. Bernard Declève)

Universiteit Antwerpen

  • Faculteit Ontwerpwetenschappen (Dr. Bart Janssens)

Universiteit Hasselt

  • Faculteit Architectuur & Kunst (Prof. Griet Verbeeck, Prof. Elke Knapen, Dr. Bart Janssens)

Université de Liège

  • LEMA (Prof. Jacques Teller, Prof. Sigrid Reiter)
  • SBD Lab (Prof. Shady Atia, Sustainable Buildings Design Lab)
  • Gembloux – Biodiversité et Paysage (Prof. Jan Bogaert / Prof. Grégory MAHY)


  • Vakgroep Architectuur en Stedenbouw (Prof. Arnold Janssens)






DS²BE 2017
28-29/04/2016 DS²BE 2016  Leuven
DS²BE 2015
21/05/2014 DS²BE - 3 Campus Arenberg, KUL
30/04/2014 DS²BE - 2 Campus Etterbeek, VUB
19/03/2014 DS²BE - 1 Campus Solbosch, ULB


Previous Seminars


The current format is derived from three previous seminars held in 2014. Each comprised three presentations of 20 minutes each, followed by 1 hour of discussion animated by a panel of experts. The timing was from 1200-1400 hrs.