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Dr Alice Moncaster MA (Cantab) MSc PhD CEng MICE

Dr Alice  Moncaster, MA (Cantab) MSc PhD CEng MICE

Director of the IDBE Masters Course, Departments of Engineering and Architecture

University Lecturer, Department of Engineering

Fellow of Newnham College

Office Phone: 01223 332976


Alice Moncaster is a chartered engineer, who worked for ten years in civil and building structures design before returning to academia in October 2007.  Her research into sustainable construction crosses the boundaries between academia and practice, and incorporates the fields of engineering, architecture and the social sciences. 

A current main strand of research focuses on understanding and reducing the whole life carbon of buildings.  Alice is the invited UK representative on the International Energy Agency Annex 57 on “Evaluation of Embodied Energy and Carbon Dioxide Emissions for Building Construction”, a three year (2012-2015)  multi-national project led by Japan.  This builds on her work at the Centre for Sustainable Development from 2010-2012, for which Alice won £180k EPSRC funding (as part of a £1.1m industry-academia consortium) to develop a whole life embodied energy and carbon tool. She has won other independent funding as part of the TSB Design for Future Climates programme, and local Government funding into research into the social and technical impacts of low carbon retrofit at Rampton Drift. From 2008-2010 Alice was part of the ISSUES team within the EPSRC Sustainable Urban Environments programme, comparing the 'pipeline' dissemination model with the co-production of knowledge between academia and industry. In the 1990s Alice was employed at the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre at Bristol University, where she investigated soil-structure interaction under shear loading as part of the early development of Eurocode 8.

Overlapping her research appointment at Cambridge, Alice was funded by the EPSRC to study for her PhD at the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA.  Her socio-technical research focused on decision-making within the built environment, through a study of the policies, procurement, design and construction of sustainable school buildings.  

Alice is currently principal supervisor or advisor/second supervisor for PhD theses on: 'Commercial office buildings and life cycle energy assessments'; 'The social value of economic infrastructure: case studies of flood defence schemes';  'UK Planning: an examination of the apparent conflict between energy efficient retrofit and conservation and heritage';  and 'District heating systems for emissions reductions in social housing stock'.  She has also successfully supervised and examined a large number of postgraduate master's dissertations, mainly at the Department of Architecture but also at the Departments of Engineering and Chemical Engineering.

Alice is a Fellow at Newnham College where she teaches structural mechanics to undergraduate engineers.  She is an Associate of Cambridge Architectural Research Limited (, lives in Cambridge with her family and has designed her own low-carbon two-storey extension made from timber, lime and recycled materials.

Research Interests

  • Whole life carbon and energy of buildings
  • Socio-technical analyses of sustainable construction

  • Energy-efficient retrofit and adaptation for future climates
  • Performance of vernacular buildings and materials

Key Publications

  • Malmqvist, T, Moncaster, A,  Brown, N, Soulti, E, Birgisdottir, H, Houlihan Wiberg, A, John, V, Kreiner, H, Passer, A (2014) Design strategies for low embodied energy and carbon in buildings: analyses of the IEA Annex 57 case studies. World Sustainable Building Conference WSB14, 28-30 October 2014, Barcelona, Spain
  • Fitton S., Moncaster A. and Guthrie P. (2014) Flood Alleviation Design: Adopting a social perspective. 6th International Conference on Flood Management - ICFM6 “Floods in a changing Environment”, 16-18 September 2014, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Gavotsis E. and Moncaster A. (2014) Industry and policy recommendations for the improvement of embodied energy and carbon accounting, based on a study during construction stage   International Conference on Architecture, 7-10 July 2014, Athens, Greece
  • Ariyaratne C. and Moncaster A. (2014) Stand-alone calculation tools are not the answer to embodied carbon assessment.  Energy Procedia (forthcoming) and International Conference on Sustainability in Energy and Buildings (SEB-14) 25-27 June 2014, Cardiff, UK
  • Moncaster A M and Symons K E (2013): A method and tool for 'cradle to grave' embodied carbon and energy in compliance with the new TC350 standards, Energy and Buildings, 66:11, pp514-523, Available at
  • Moncaster A M, Soulti E, Mubarak G and Symons K E  (2013) Retrofitting solid wall buildings: energy and carbon costs and savings, Proceedings of SB13 Graz, 25-28 Sept, Graz, Austria
  • Symons K E, Moncaster A M and Symons D, (2013) An Application of the CEN/TC350 standards to an Energy and Carbon LCA of timber used in construction, and the effect of end-of-life scenarios,  Australian Life Cycle Assessment Society (ALCAS) conference, 15–18 July, Sydney, Australia
  • Moncaster A M (2013)  The impact of procurement processes on the sustainability of school buildings, Proceedings of SB13 Munich, 24-26 April, Munich, Germany
  • Moncaster A M and Song J-Y. (2012): A comparative review of existing data and methodologies for calculating embodied energy and carbon of buildings, International Journal of Sustainable Building Technology and Urban Development, 3:1, pp 26-36  Awarded 'Best paper of the year' for the journal in 2012
  • Sahagun D. and Moncaster A. M. (2012): How much do we spend to save? Calculating the embodied carbon costs of retrofit, Retrofit 2012 Conference, 24-26 January 2012, University of Salford, UK
  • Moncaster A. M., Cheng, V., Littlewood, E. and Muscat, D. (2012): Designing climate resilient schools: St Faith's School, Cambridge, Conference on Urban Sustainability and Resilience, 5-6 November 2012, UCL, London, UK
  • Moncaster A. M. and Song J-Y. (2011): A comparative review of existing data and methodologies for calculating embodied energy and carbon of buildings, World Sustainable Building Conference SB11, 18-21 October 2011, Helsinki, Finland
  • Moncaster A. M., Hinds D., Cruickshank H., Guthrie P. M., Crishna N., Baker K., Beckmann K. and Jowitt P. W. (2010): Knowledge exchange between academia and industry, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers Engineering Sustainability 163 ES3, pp 167–174