About the Institute for Sustainable Construction

Based within the School of Engineering and the Built Environment, the Institute for Sustainable Construction (ISC) encompasses several leading built environment applied research centres. The Institute works with key industry organisations, businesses and in the last three years has supported over 300 companies.

ISC has specialist expertise in developing and supporting innovative building technologies and product innovation and is the lead partner in the Low Carbon Building Technologies Gateway. Our research is regarded as international and world-leading, and includes projects from EPSRC, government departments, Technology Strategy Board and the European Union.

Our expertise includes low-carbon built environment solutions, offsite construction, energy efficient designs, geotechnics, sustainable building performance and micro-renewable technologies; as well as our world-leading research and consultancy in building acoustics, vibration and construction technical design. In addition, our expert centres also include applied research and consultancy services for regeneration, smartcities, sustainable communities and new innovative constructure product development.

Our expert staff serve on national and international standards committees and on numerous government/industry groups, such as 2020 Climate Change groups for Built Environment, Energy, Infrastructure and Innovation and Construction Scotland.

The Institute is led by Professor Sean Smith, who is also Professor of Construction Innovation.

Our expert centres

Professor Sean Smith

Institute Director

Professor Sean Smith

Professor Sean Smith graduated with BSc First Class Honours in 1992 (Building Economics and Quantity Surveying) and awarded Ph.D. from Heriot-Watt University in 1997. His research was funded by the EPSRC and the Defence Evaluation Research Agency. He was an invited post doctoral researcher at the Italian government research laboratories in 1998 and German government in 1999. He joined the Edinburgh Napier University’s Building Performance Centre in 2001 and was RC UK Academic Fellow for five years. During 2007-08 he served as interim Associate Dean for Knowledge Transfer and Commercialisation. In 2008 he was appointed as Professor of Construction Innovation. 

In 2010 he was appointed as Director of the Institute for Sustainable Construction and has led many national and international research and knowledge transfer projects. During his period at Edinburgh Napier University he has undertaken over 400 research, knowledge transfer and expert services contracts. He has undertaken research projects funded by the Scottish Government, SBSA, Historic Scotland, CLG, Defra and many industry organisations. 

In 2002-03 he was joint co-Project Manager of the HBF Robust Standards Details Project and is a member of the UK Robust Details Standards Committee. Between 2004 and 2014 over 750,000 UK homes have been built incorporating these details. In 2009 due to the positive impact on industry, environment and society from the robust details project his research team were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for “innovative housing construction for environmental benefit and quality of life”. 

During 2009-13 he was principal investigator of the Low Carbon Building Technologies Gateway, supporting with his staff over 300 new innovative products and processes for low carbon buildings. In 2012 he was principal investigator for the Scottish government “review into offsite construction” which forecast the strategic growth and importance of this sector to the economy. He has given evidence to various parliamentary committees in relation to carbon reductions, skills and low carbon economy and construction. During 2010-13 he chaired EU COST Action WG3 relating to harmonization and robustness of standards involving 32 countries. During 2010 – 2014 he served on Scottish Construction Forum and the industry leadership group Construction Scotland. In 2013-14 he led the eleven universities partnership with industry to establish the £7.5 million Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC). 

In 2015 his research team and ISC research centres were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for “Sustainable construction, timber engineering and wood science”.

He currently serves on the Timber and Forestry Industry Leadership Group (ILG), Textiles Futures Forum, CIAT Education and Research Committees and the Institute of Acoustics Scottish Branch committee. He was a founding member of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) was the University’s PI for the ECCI Low Carbon Innovation Project which was awarded the The Guardian Sustainable Business Award 2016 for Best Partnership Project. He is co-author of five patents involving 16 innovative product solutions for acoustic, thermal and structural performance within buildings, which are manufactured in the UK and licensed to multinational companies including ITW-Cullen and Icopal.