Sean Smith

Sean Smith

Prof Sean Smith BSc Hons PhD FIOA FRSA FHEA HonFRIAS

Director of Sustainable Construction


Professor Sean Smith is based within the School of Engineering & the Built Environment and is Director of the Institute for Sustainable Construction (ISC), Professor of Construction Innovation and University lead for Impact for REF 2021. He lectures on the architectural technology programmes covering research and innovation of new construction products and systems. In 2018 he led the submission for the school to be awarded the status of CIAT Centre of Excellence in Architectural Technology.

In 1992 graduated with BSc Building Economics and Quantity Surveying and was awarded Ph.D. from Heriot-Watt University in 1997. His PhD research was funded by the EPSRC and the Defence Research Agency developing SEA mathematical models for predicting sound and vibration in complex structures. He was a guest scientist at the Canadian National Research Council construction research laboratories (1994), was an invited post doctoral researcher at the Italian government research laboratories (1998) and invited guest scientist German government research laboratories (PTB - 1999). He joined Edinburgh Napier University’s Building Performance Centre and RMP Acoustics in 2001 and was RC UK Academic Fellow for five years. During 2007-08 he served as Associate Dean for Knowledge Transfer and Commercialisation. In 2008 he was appointed as Professor of Construction Innovation.

In 2010 he was appointed Director of the Institute for Sustainable Construction as 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 and knowledge transfer projects funded by the EU, Innovate UK, Scottish Government, SFC, DCLG, Defra, Building Standards Division and many industry organisations and trade bodies. His research outputs and advice have been adopted in building regulations across the UK and he has been an advisor to CEN and ISO Standards Committees.

He led the HBF Robust Standards Details Research Project resulting in the Robust Details regulatory approach for sound insulation and between 2004 and 2018 over 1 million UK homes have been built incorporating these specifications and design details. He was principal investigator of the Low Carbon Building Technologies Gateway, supporting with his staff over 200 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. In 2013-14 he led the eleven universities partnership bid with industry to establish the £7.5 million Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC).

His has significantly contributed and led the submissions for both Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education awarded to the University for his research teams and staff relating to housing innovations and quality of life (2009) and sustainable construction, timber engineering and wood science (2015). He serves on a range of industry and professional body groups including the CIAT Research & Education Committees, RD Standards Committee, Timber & Forest Industry leadership group and previously served for several years on the Construction Scotland industry leadership group. He has been a reviewer for research grant applications for Innovate UK, EPSRC, Carnegie Trust, CSIC and Textiles Future Forum and overseas government science policy units.

The impacts of his construction research projects and innovative processes developed for industry organisations have led to multiple benefits for the construction manufacturing and house building sector. He is co-author of five patents involving 17 innovative product solutions for acoustic, thermal and structural performance within buildings, which are manufactured in the UK and licensed to multinational companies. In 2016 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland due to the positive impact of his work on sustainability and quality of life in the built environment. In 2018 he was invited by the Scottish Government to chair the working group on New Housing and Future Construction Skills.


Advisory panels and expert committees or witness

  • Nominated HE Member of the Integrated Regional Employment Skills Board (IRES) - Edinburgh & South East Scotland City Region Deal
  • Invited Chair - Scottish Government short life working group of New Housing Construction & Skills Requirements
  • Invited expert evidence - Review of Scottish government draft climate change plan (RPP3) Scottish Parliament, Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee.
  • Invited member of the Carnegie Trust Select Committee
  • Association of Noise Consultants – invited member of the Professional Competency and Development Committee (2004-06)
  • Expert advisor - Robust Standard Details Masonry Committee (2002-03)
  • Expert Advisor - Robust Standards Details Regulatory Committee (2002-03)
  • Expert Advisor - Robust Standard Details Timber Committee (2002-03)
  • Nominated member Institute of Acoustics – Scottish Branch Committee (2005-present)
  • Member of the ECCI Low Carbon Project management group (2009-13)
  • Member of the Organising Scientific Committee – International Building Physics Conference, Torino, 2015.
  • Invited Technical Advisory Group (CSIC) (2014 to present)
  • Invited Textiles Future Forum Advisory Group (2015 to present)
  • Deputy Chair (nominated) – Robust Details (RD) UK Technical Standards Committee (2014 - present)
  • International Standards Committee - Invited UK member of ISO -16717 Draft Working Group 2012-13.
  • Invited Scottish Construction Industry Low Carbon Steering Group (2008-2009)
  • Invited member of the Scottish Government Sustainable Procurement Bill Advisory Group (2011-12)
  • Invited advisor to the Welsh Government review of Part E (Sound Insulation) Building Regulations Wales (2015)
  • Invited by Scottish Building Standards Agency - Technical Standards Committee Review of Section 5: Noise building regulations (2007-08)
  • Invited member 2020 Climate Group - Built Environment Group (2011 – 2015)
  • Invited member 2020 Climate Group – Energy, Infrastructure and Innovation (2013 – 2015)
  • Invited member & Co-Chair Advanced Construction Group (CSIC) (2014 – present)
  • Invited member Timber & Forest Industry Leadership Group - ILG (2014 – present).
  • Invited member - Robust Details Approvals and Assessment Committee (2004-08)
  • Invited member - Robust Details Performance and Monitoring Committee (2004-08)
  • Invited member Industry BIM Task Group (Building Information Modelling) (2014-present).
  • Invited member - BIM 4 Academia Scottish Working Group (2015 to present)
  • Invited expert to European Standards Committee - CEN TC126 Working Party for International Standards Organisation: Sound transmission through buildings and building elements. (1998, 1999) Presented to the CEN Committee in Zurich.
  • Invited expert by Irish Government, for the review of the Irish Building Regulations for sound insulation (2008) (Also J.B. Wood)
  • Invited expert to International Standards Organisation - ISO 16717 Draft working group (2012-2013)
  • Invited expert member Robust Details Technical Standards Committee (2008- present)
  • Invited expert member Robust Details Inspectorate Committee (2005 – present)


Conference Activity

  • Assessing the Sheltering Response in the Middle East: Studying Syrian Camps in Jordan
  • (International) Co-organizer: International Acoustics Workshop and Early Career Researchers School. Belgian Building Research Institute, Brussels, Belgium, January 2013.
  • (Scotland) Conference Organizer and Conference Chair: Proposed New Standards For Sound Insulation: Section 5 Scotland. Edinburgh, June 2008.
  • (UK) Conference Organizer and Conference Chair: Sustainable New Homes and Sound Insulation Conference. Birmingham. October, 2006,
  • (UK) Conference Organizer and Conference Chair: Sound Insulation and the Code for Sustainable Homes Conference. Birmingham. October, 2007.
  • (UK) Session Chair: Building Acoustics Session: Institute of Acoustics Conference. Oxford. 2004.
  • (International) Session Chair: Innovative New Products and International Markets. International Housing and Home Warranty Conference, Edinburgh. September, 2008.
  • (International) Symposium co-organizer: European attached housing construction review (TU0901). Berlin, Germany, 2010
  • (International) Symposium co-organizer and Session Chair: Technical compatibility in European housing (TU0901), Brussels, Belgium, 2011
  • (International) Conference co-organizer and Session Chair: A robust detail approach in Europe (TU0901), Florence, Italy, 2011
  • (International) Joint lead Conference Organizer (with Irish counterpart): Irish and Scottish Branches Committees Joint Conference, Institute of Acoustics, Dublin, Ireland. November, 2005.
  • (International) Symposium co-organizer and Session Chair: Development of workmanship factors for building acoustics. Bucharest, Romania, 2013
  • (International) Member of the International Scientific Committee organizing the International Building Physics Conference, Torino, Italy 2015.
  • (International) Symposium co-organizer and Session Chair: Acoustic retrofit of existing housing and workmanship factors (TU0901). Bratislava, Slovakia, 2012.
  • (International) Conference organizer and Session Chair: 14th European Conference, Renewable energy in heating and cooling. (jointly undertaken with UN Environment Program (UNEP), IIF, Italian Council of Ministers and evening
  • (International) Conference co-organizer and Session Chair: Workmanship, low frequencies and innovation in timber buildings – joint EU working group conference (FP0702) and (TU0901), Zurich, Switzerland, 2012
  • (International) Conference co-organizer and Speaker. Towards Acoustic Harmonization in Europe. Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec 2013.
  • International) Joint session chair: Building Acoustics and Sound Insulation. EURONOISE 2009.
  • Invited Member of the Organising Scientific Committee – International Building Physics Conference, Torino, 2015.


External Examining/Validations

  • Member & Reviewer for CIAT Accreditation HE Panels
  • External examiner for School of Engineering, University of Cambridge
  • PhD examiner University of Nottingham, School of Architecture and Built Environment


Fellowships and Awards

  • Led the successful submission for award of CIAT Centre of Excllence status for the University's research and teaching in Architectural Technology
  • Best Conference Paper - 19th International Conference on Humanitarian Aid - Assessing the Sheltering Response in the Middle East for Refugees
  • Shortlisted for UK KTP Award of the Year 2013
  • Queen's Anniversary Prize 2015 for Further & Higher Education
  • Queen's Anniversary Prize 2009 for Further & Higher Education
  • FIOA - Fellow of the Institute of Acoustics
  • FRSA - Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce
  • ERDF Best Marketing and Training Project 2012 - Low Carbon Building Technologies Gateway
  • ERDF Best Low Carbon Project 2012 - ECCI Low Carbon Innovation Project
  • Shortlisted for Best Innovation Award - Scottish Green Energy Awards
  • The Guardian Sustainable Business Awards 2016 - Best Partnership Project - Low Carbon Innovation Project with ECCI partners
  • HonFRIAS - Honorary Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland


Grant Funding Panel Member

  • Member of CIAT Education Committee - grant funding
  • Member of Carnegie Trust Select Committee
  • CSIC Project advisory committee - Advanced Construction


Grant Reviewer

  • Reviewer for Carnegie Trust Select Panel
  • Reviewer for Carnegie Trust research grants
  • Reviewer for Chilean Government - National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (2016)
  • Reviewer for CSIC industry-academia joint research applications
  • Reviewer for Textiles Future Forum grant applications
  • Invited expert to review funding bids by NHBC 2011
  • Reviewer for RC UK Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council
  • Reviewer for Technology Strategy Board (Innovate UK)
  • Belgian Government Science Policy Unit - Grants Reviewer and Advisor (2006, 2007, 2008)


Invited Speaker

  • Keynote speaker - Future of Global Housing. International Conference on Sustainable Building Design. London September 2018
  • Invited Speaker - UK HBF Technical Conference, Birmingham September 2017
  • Invited speaker - SFHA - Property & Asset Maintenance Conference
  • Invited Speaker - Sustainable Silk Roads: Low-carbon Implementation of China’s Belt and Road Initiative
  • Keynote Speaker at the IAHS 41st World Congress on Housing, Sustainability and Innovation for the Future - Housing Science Conference
  • Invited Speaker - Future role of offsite construction. Chartered Institute for Architectural Technologoists (CIAT) Symposium – London December 2015.
  • Invited Speaker - The Future of Housing. UK Home Builders Federation National Technical Conference, Birmingham, September 2015.
  • Presentations and meetings with EU Commission, ESF and UNEP
  • Keynote speaker: R.S. Smith. “Within These Walls”. UK Noise Association Conference - Edinburgh, September 2006.
  • Keynote speaker: R.S. Smith. Applications of SEA in Acoustics and Vibration. Proceedings of the Associazione Italiana di Acustica 26th Congress in Torino, Italy. p137 - 144, 1998.
  • Invited to International bodies such as the Inter-Jurisdictional Regulatory Compliance Committee (IRCC – the G16 of nations for building regulations – both in 2009 and 2015)
  • Invited Speaker: R. S. Smith. Aggregates – A natural strategic resource. Institute of Quarrying and MPA Scotland Symposium. I-MAX cinema, Glasgow, UK. November 2012.
  • Invited Speaker: R. S. Smith. An innovative approach to sustainable design and construction. Sustainability Leaders Forum 2014. Glasgow. 27th March, 2014.
  • Invited Speaker: R. S. Smith. Applied construction research to economic growth. Launch of the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre. Glasgow, October 2014.
  • Invited Speaker: R. S. Smith. Sustainability – Building Standards in Scotland and Their Global Application. British Chambers, Hong Kong. January, 2013.
  • Invited speaker: R. K. T. Mackenzie and R.S. Smith. Development of Robust Details for Sound Insulation. New Zealand Acoustical Society. Auckland, New Zealand. May, 2006.
  • Invited Speaker: R. S. Smith. Sustainable Construction and the Future. Timber and Forest Industry Leadership Group. Stirling, UK. May, 2014.
  • Invited Speaker: R. S. Smith. Overview of the Low Carbon Building Technology Gateway. Housing Expo, Inverness. 5th August, 2010.
  • Invited Speaker: R. S. Smith. Review of Offsite Construction. Building Technology Showcase. 30th May, 2012.
  • Invited Speaker: R. S. Smith. The Performance Gap - Regulatory Changes. HBF Technical Conference, Leicester, UK. 18th October, 2012.
  • Invited Speaker: R. S. Smith. Promotion of sustainable construction. Chartered Institute of Management. Edinburgh. 8th February 2012.
  • Invited Speaker: R. S. Smith. Building for the Future. UK Structural Timber Association. Edinburgh, 6th February, 2013.
  • Invited Speaker: R. S. Smith. Brownfield Land in Scotland 2012. ECCI, Edinburgh. 2nd February 2012.
  • Guest Speaker - Tilhill Annual Industry Conference
  • Guest speaker: R.S. Smith. House building 2004: Management Conference. Part E and Robust Details. September 7th/8th. London. 2004.
  • Guest speaker: R.S. Smith. 2008 Robust Detail Annual Conference Tour
  • Guest speaker: R.S. Smith. “RSD Project - Part E Building Regulations Update”, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and Association of Building Engineers
  • Guest speaker: R.S. Smith. 2005 Robust Detail Annual Conference Tour
  • Guest speaker: R.S. Smith. “Making it work - regulation, design guidance and good practice”. Quiet Homes for London Conference, Greater London Authority and UK Noise Association. City Hall, November 2005.
  • Guest speaker: R.S. Smith. 2006 Robust Detail Annual Conference Tour
  • Guest speaker: R.S. Smith. Sound insulation in Scotland’s housing stock. Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Edinburgh. 30th November 2006.
  • Guest speaker: R.S. Smith. 2007 Robust Detail Annual Conference Tour
  • Guest speaker: R.S. Smith. Launch of Building Control Training Academy. Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London. April, 2008.
  • Guest speaker: R.S. Smith. New heights in sound insulation. Timber in Construction Conference. Manchester. November 2008.
  • Invited paper: R.S. Smith, M. Stewart and M. Fringuellino. The importance of acoustic-vibro stimulus. Congresso Nazionale Pediatrica D’Italia, Torino, Italy. September 1998.
  • Invited Paper: R.S. Smith, R.G. Mackenzie, D. Baker and D. Panter. A decade of the UK Robust Approach. Forum Acustikum 2014, Krakow, Poland. September 2014.
  • Invited paper: M. Fringuellino and R.S. Smith. Predicting sound transmission through perforated brick walls using SEA. EEA/ASA Congress Berlin, Germany, 1999.
  • Invited paper: R.S. Smith and R. Pompoli. Verification of using SEA to model differing laboratory conditions. EEA/ASA Congress Berlin, Germany, 1999.
  • Invited paper: R.S. Smith, M.W. Stewart, F. Ribichini and M. Fringuellino. The role of auditory stimulus on cardiovascular and respiratory function in infants. Do we need frequent stimulus? Invited Speaker. 2nd International Congress on New Technologies i
  • Invited Paper: R.S. Smith, R. Macdonald, D. Lurcock and R.K. Mackenzie. Airborne sound transmission, ISO 140 and influence of ISO 717-1 spectrum adaptation terms. 19th International Congress on Acoustics. Madrid, Spain. September, 2007.
  • Invited Paper: R.S. Smith and C. Steel. Effects of increasing energy policy requirements on sound insulation performance. Forum Acustikum 2014, Krakow, Poland. September 2014.
  • Invited paper: R.S. Smith, D. Baker and D. Panter. “Monitoring the performance of 100,000 homes per annum” Joint American (ASA)-European (EAA) Conference, Acoustics 08 Paris, France. July, 2008.
  • Invited Speaker: R.S. Smith. Opening Session – Launch of Retrofit Scotland. Glasgow. 15th April, 2013.
  • Invited speaker: R.S. Smith. Cost is king, but carbon is queen. Property 2011 Conference, EICC, Edinburgh, UK. September, 2011.
  • Invited Speaker. R.S. Smith. Building regulations, standards and directives in the post-recession era - opportunity or cost? Property 2014, Edinburgh, November 2014.
  • Invited presentations and papers to international CEN and ISO Committees
  • Invited presentations to Government, Regional Government departments and Industry in Sweden, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, Ireland and Russia
  • Invited presentations to Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC)


Media Activity

  • 2017 Grenfell Tower Block Fire in London - BBC Television and Radio (June 2017)
  • 2017 Ledbury Tower Blocks, Southwark, London - BBC Radio London interview by Vanessa Feltz (11th August 2017)
  • 2017 Scottish Parliament TV - Economy Jobs and Fair Work Committee - Draft Climate Change Bill (RPP3) (31st January 2017)
  • 2013 Scottish Parliament TV – video broadcast – Giving evidence to the Parliamentary Inquiry for Energy and Enterprise regarding RPP2 document.
  • 2012 Scottish Parliament TV - video broadcast – Giving evidence to the Parliamentary Inquiry for Energy and Enterprise regarding skills for renewables and carbon targets
  • 2006 Colourful Radio, London. Interviewer Tessa Sanderson CBE.
  • 2006 Grampian Television North Tonight, September.
  • 2005 BBC News 24, March and April 2005.
  • 2005 BBC Radio London. Interviewer Vanessa Phelps.
  • 2005 BBC Radio 5 Live. Interviewer Peter Allan (14/3/05)
  • 2005 BBC 1 Breakfast, Interviewer Dermot Murnaghan, March 15th


Non-executive Directorship

  • Non-Executive Director, Glendevon Energy Company Ltd. 2000 – 2009
  • Non-Executive Director. Robust Details Ltd. 2004 – 2008.
  • Non-Excutive Director. Robust Details Ltd (2016 - to present)



  • Reviewer of articles submitted to IOA Acoustics Bulletin
  • Reviewer for journal publications submitted to Building and Environment
  • Reviewer for journal publications submitted to Acta Acustica
  • Reviewer for journal publications submitted to Applied Acoustics


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