Dr Rachel MUIGAI (Kenya)

In her award-winning research, Rachel focuses on practical design and construction solutions to minimize the cost, energy requirements, and environmental impact of South Africa’s infrastructure.

PhD in Civil Engineering

Current position: Senior Lecturer at Department of Civil Engineering Science, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Research focus: sustainability of construction (Green Building), durability design of reinforced concrete structures, service life modeling, concrete deterioration, non-destructive testing techniques

As part of her PhD work, Rachel developed a model that uses secondary and recycled materials for buildings as sustainable alternative to raw materials.

CV as submitted for the Green Talents award (2012):

University of Cape Town, South Africa

Research focus: design and construction solutions for more sustainable concrete infrastructure

A civil engineer and a PhD candidate in Construction Sustainability, Rachel Muigai’s award-winning research is driving design and construction solutions to minimize the cost, energy requirements and environmental impact of concrete infrastructure in South Africa.

Rachel Muigai’s approach to sustainability is to find practical design and construction solutions that will lead to more sustainable concrete infrastructure. A civil engineer and currently a PhD candidate at the University of Cape Town, Muigai’s basic goal is to ensure that future concrete structures in South Africa have the lowest possible carbon footprint and impact on the environment and society.

As part of her PhD work, Muigai is developing a model that optimizes the mix design materials for concrete while minimizing life-cycle costs and energy consumption. She is applying the model in the material design of concrete bridges and concrete-framed buildings. “The tool supports sustainable growth in that it motivates the practicing engineer to use secondary and recycled materials that have low embodied energy,” says Muigai. “The use of secondary materials in the concrete mix-design not only promotes conservation of raw materials, but also creates jobs, as people are needed to sort waste materials at demolition sites.”

Emphasizing the importance of the building and construction sectors to sustainable development, the jury pointed to Muigai’s innovative, award-winning work at the Master’s level and her current PhD work, which it says is making a significant contribution to more sustainable reinforced concrete structures in South Africa.