Spotlight on a Student: Maria Panagiotidou

Energy and life-cycle cost optimisation framework for multi-residential building retrofit


Maria Panagiotidou is a PhD candidate in the Department of Infrastructure Engineering at the University of Melbourne.

Her research looks at retrofitting residential buildings and strategising which have minimal operational greenhouse gas emissions and minimal life-cycle costs.

After graduating early next year she hopes to work on projects that bring academia and industry together to develop sustainable energy solutions in the building sector.

What is your research about?

Residential buildings account for one-quarter of the global final energy demand. They have low replacement rates and the existing buildings have low energy efficiencies. Retrofitting them has a great potential for reducing GHG emissions. At the same time, we need to consider initial investment and operating costs to make the retrofits worthwhile.

My research is on retrofitting residential buildings and I intend to identify strategies which have minimum operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and minimum life-cycle cost (LCC).

The innovation of the research is the integrated approach of the residential building retrofit, considering building envelope and both energy supply and demand side technologies. The developed framework considers various retrofit strategies, including the building envelope, the renewable energy supply systems, heating, cooling, and domestic hot water systems.

The steps followed are: identification of the baseline performance of existing building stock, development and modelling of the retrofit strategies and optimisation of the design parameters considering both GHG emissions and LCC.

The expected outcome of the research is to provide decision-makers with a sub-set of non-dominated solutions, that represent different trade-offs between the objectives in different regions of the decision space. The developed framework can be used for other types and uses of buildings, determining all feasible options.

Who are your supervisors?

I am privileged to do my PhD research with the supervision of Prof. Lu Aye and Dr Behzad Rismanchi  - Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Group, Department of Infrastructure Engineering at the University.

What do you want to do next?

After graduation, I would like to continue working on improving energy efficiency of the building sector, either as a practitioner or as a researcher. Ideally, I would like to get involved in projects that bring both academia and industry together in order to develop sustainable solutions.

Any awards?
I was a recipient of the Melbourne Research Scholarship award in 2016 and Melbourne Abroad Traveling Scholarships (MATS) in 2018.

Maria and her supervisors warmly welcome any enquiries about her research. You can email her at, Prof. Lu Aye at and Dr Behzad Rismanchi at

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Ruby Brown

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