Understanding the relationship between resource consumption and development levels

Will Mihkelson currently works as Sustainability Engineer at WSP – one of the world’s leading engineering and environmental professional services consultancy. While he was a Grantham Scholar, Will’s project aimed to quantify the relationship between development levels and the resource consumption required for housing.

Project description

The growth of cities simultaneously increases demand for construction material and results in strong inequalities of development. Therefore, there may be tensions in achieving global sustainable development goals within our urban areas. And this is exacerbated by the rate of urbanization, particularly in developing nations.

Additions to housing and transport infrastructure in these nations will contribute to the already significant share of global anthropogenic carbon emissions attributed to the use of construction material. Therefore, a systematic understanding of the material requirements to improve human living standards may become crucial in evaluating meaningful pathways towards sustainable development. One important step in understanding such pathways is to quantify the relationship between development levels and the resource consumption required for housing.

In order to address this, this project aims will combine methods to understand the size and distribution of housing material stocks and the scale and heterogeneity of development across geographical scales. Pathways to sustainable development will then be evaluated by evaluating low carbon technologies and improvements to the spatial organization of material stocks and their effects on development levels. India will be a a case study to test the approach and provide insights for a developing nation.


Will, Grantham Scholar Charles Gillott, and other University of Sheffield experts developed Regenerate. Regenerate is a tool that encourages people who design and construct buildings to engage with the circular economy. Find out more about Regenerate.

Building Passports

Will has more recently worked on a project aiming to create a standardized template for a new “Building Passport”. This aims to consolidate key whole life building data relating to circular economy, operational efficiency, and health and safety to maximize the value, safety and sustainability of built assets.

Will Mihkelson’s outreach

Sheffield newspaper The Star featured a story on the Regenerate tool. Read: Sheffield university academics argue more buildings should be renovated to aid post Covid-19 recovery.

Will also commented on the Building Passports story featured in the The Engineer and the Independent.

Social media

You can find Will on LinkedIn.


Dr Danielle Densley Tingley

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering


Nick Taylor Buck

Institute for Sustainable Food

Hadi Arbabi

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering