Dr Jill Zhao

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  • Qualifications:PhD MSc BArch FHEA
  • Position:Senior Lecturer in Architecture and Construction Technology
  • Department:FET - Architecture and the Built Environment
  • Telephone:+4411732 81538
  • Email:Jill.Zhao@uwe.ac.uk

About me

I am a researcher and educator in Sustainable Architecture, with particular interest in Passivhaus, Net Zero policy and Affordable Housing. I have received Architectural training and education in both China and the UK, where I also worked in a number of international practices, including SMC Alsop Beijing (now SPARK Architects, Singapore), DnA (Beijing), GRID Architects (London). My academic career began in 2013 at the University of Edinburgh, where I worked as a teaching and research assistant during my doctoral study on the lived experience of Passivhaus and gained my PhD degree in Architecture in 2018. 

My research is underpinned by my passion for environmental and social sustainability. It has a focus on investigating the social, technical and organisational changes in the transition to Net Zero in the Housing sector, and their policy implications. Human-centred, place-based approach, as well as co-production and collaboration are the core of my research activities. I'm also passionate about engaging the public and policymakers in research and education. I held and continue to hold a number of external consultancy and KE roles.

Prior to joining UWE, I held a Senior Lecturer position at the University of Lincoln, where I gained my FHEA qualification and led the BA(Hons) Architecture programme, in partnership with SHAPE (Hong Kong). My knowledge and expertise contributed greatly to the curriculum development in the area of Architectural Technology and Environment. I have also been successful in contributing to a number of internal and external research fundings, consultancy and KTP projects exceeding the value of £170k.

Policy impact and notable citations
  • British Academy report: Governance for Net Zero cites my paper 
  • Written evidence submitted to the Environmental Audit Committee’s Inquiry into Heat resilience and sustainable cooling quoted in report: Heat resilience and sustainable cooling
  • Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) Expert contributor: Enabling green choices for net zero
  • Essay cited in Hight Education Policy Institute Early Career Researcher lived experience report.

External Roles

  • EPSRC and ESRC peer review college member
  • Architect's Journal Architecture Award (AJAA) Judge
  • Foundation Future Leader Scheme 2023 - funded by Foundation for Science and Technology
  • Expert register on Bristol Advisory Commission of Climate Change (BACCC)
  • Founder of SHAPEing Net Zero Collective
  • Lead for UK-China Innovation Partnership Programme UK consortium on built environment research supported by UK-CARE
  • Founding member of CarbonLEAF consultancy group
  • Advisory Board Member to British Academy Early Career Researcher Network Midlands Hub (2021-2023)
  • Judge for Skegness and Mablethorpe Town Deal regional regeneration Grants Panel (2022)
  • Academic advisor to Lincoln Climate Commission Group (2022-2023)

Area of expertise

Research Interests

My research primarily focuses on Net Zero and Housing/(quality and affordability). Including Net Zero and its potential effect on housing stock, the affordability of housing. It is underpinned by building a better understanding of people’s housing choices and behaviours such as adopting and using low carbon technology within the built environment, as well as the sociotechnical and organisational change in the decarbonisation process in building sector, and the policy implications. My area of expertise extends to examining the delivery of Low Carbon Housing, Passivhaus, especially Affordable Housing, their social value and local benefit, as well as how they can be integrated into policy development, implementation, and on-going evaluation. 

My research aims to integrate the human element within various social and cultural context into the design of sustainable architecture. This relates directly to the occupants comfort, wellbeing, experience and behaviour, with focuses on a socio-technical approach to the interaction between human and non-human elements within the built environment. I have extensive experience working in the context of academia, policy, private practice and third sector, to support Local growth, Levelling up and Integration and communities. I have particular interest in interdisciplinary research, and collaborated with scholars in landscape design, product design, fine art, computer science, sociology and psychology.


  • PHOCUS - Decision-making toolkit to implement Passivhaus standard in social housing sector - funded by UWE VC ECR
  • UWE Living lab co-founder
  • Co-design a Human-centred Approach for Net zero: Gamifying Energy-behaviour (CHANGE) - funded by CABER
  • Royal Society Pairing Scheme 2024: Week in Westminster - funded by Royal Society
  • UKRI Policy fellowship 2023: Building a green future - shortlisted
  • Net Zero Policy Discussion Paper - funded by British Academy
  • HOPE - Passivhaus Students Acoomodation POE

PhD Supervision 

I welcome PhD applicants researching in areas including but not limited to:

  • Sustainable Architecture, Passivhaus and Low Carbon Building
  • Building performance evaluation and Human Interactions
  • Occupants comfort, health and wellbeing
  • Socio-technical approach to low-carbon construction
  • Sustainable Affordable Housing (SAH)
  • SDGs, Net Zero policy and implementation
  • Microclimate, landscape and human comfort

Visiting Scholar

I'm always happy to receive visiting scholars from other institutions, as well as to be invited as a visiting scholar

  • Shuang Liu (2018-2019), Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture, Lingnan Normal Univerisity.



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