Dr Elsa Joao

Senior Lecturer

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Personal statement

Dr João is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Strathclyde and she is the course leader for the MSc in Sustainability and Environmental Studies. She has expertise in the areas of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), enhancement of positive impacts, sustainability, bioeconomy and the circular economy. Her current research focuses on how enhancement can improve project design and strategic planning and how best to implement the circular economy. She set up the first postgraduate class on the Circular Economy at the University of Strathclyde.

Between April 2019 and June 2022 she created teaching materials on bioeconomy, circular economy and sustainability for the H2020 Project BE-Rural on "Bio-based strategies and roadmaps for enhanced rural and regional development in the EU" (https://be-rural.eu).

Dr João has been one of the key people promoting SEA in the UK and since 2002 she has trained more than 500 practitioners on SEA from more than 60 different organisations. She was elected one of the directors of the prestigious International Association for Impact Assessment for the period 2014-2017. IAIA (http://www.iaia.org/) is the leading global network on best practice in the use of impact assessment for informed decision making regarding policies, programs, plans and projects. A truly international association, IAIA has more than 1,600 members from more than 120 countries. 

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EV939 - Environmental Impact Assessment

CL936 - Writing and Presenting Research (for PhD students)                        

CL986 - Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods

CL973 - Independent study in collaboration with industry

Socio-Economics of Wind Energy Systems

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Professional Activities

International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) (External organisation)
Impact Assessment & Design - World Cafe (IEMA’s Scotland West Network Event)
Training day on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control for delegates from the Hebei Provincial Government
Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal (Journal)
Peer reviewer
External examiner for PhD Viva of Nimi Dan Jumbo (Edinburgh University)
External Examiner
External examiner PhD Viva of Abdel Rahaman Rakad Alshabeeb (Leicester University)
External Examiner

More professional activities


BE-Rural Bio-based strategies and roadmaps for enhanced rural and regional development in the EU (H2020 SC2 RUR)
Bachtler, John (Principal Investigator) Davies, Sara (Co-investigator) Ferry, Martin (Co-investigator) João, Elsa (Co-investigator) Kah, Stefan (Co-investigator) Georgieva, Neli (Researcher)
Bio-based strategies and roadmaps for enhanced rural and regional development in the EU
01-Jan-2019 - 31-Jan-2022
Challenges and Future for new technologies: finding (e)quality in work, water and food in the energy frontiers - Newton Fund.
Stewart, Paul (Principal Investigator) Garvey, Brian (Co-investigator) João, Elsa (Co-investigator)
"This interdisciplinary, exploratory agenda focuses on maturing 'low carbon' innovations and policy for agroenergy and, often competing, localised social technologies in food and energy production in south Goias state and northern UK. It does so through two exploratory field visits and two subsequent collaborative pilot research periods. These pilots integrate a baseline geo-mapping survey with worker interviews to explore the implications of ethanol production in north England (from corn) and south Goias (from sugarcane) for the availability and quality of work, of water and of land for food production. These sites are of local, regional and global economic and environmental significance. Secondly, two component case studies of local, participative and potentially socially, environmentally and financially sustainable approaches to food and energy production will be drawn from coastal Scotland and south Goias. These activities form the basis for two complimentary workshops, with a focus on policy and technical innovation towards enhanced social and environmental futures for food and energy production and three structured meetings between partners, senior institutional staff and students to establish and resource an enduring, interdisciplinary research agenda and collaborative postgraduate training. The process will be filmed as part of project learning and dissemination. The project stages are set out below alongside the name of the individual applicant with responsibility for each.
Rationale: BP investment in agrofuel in UK and Brazil typifies recent market diversification by hydrocarbon/0etrochemical majors, and the issues regarding designated technologies: further market capture and concentration may have implications for work and natural resource allocation, while the socio and bio-diverse impacts of food conversion to energy crops remain under analysed. Secondly, Scotland's impressive record as an EU leader in renewable energy and stated aim to attain energy self-sufficiency from renewable resources by 2020 rests heavily on wind and water. Resource scarcity has forced islanders into innovating and maintaining community owned, sustainable energy alternatives leading to repopulation. Furthermore, in its coastal, rural areas short supply chains and low tillage have been among distinct and instructive survival and policy strategies of small farmers and their associations.
Activity: Three day Spring school on 'human and physical resources in the production of renewable energy' with UFG visitors, staff and students of Dept CEE, Dept HRM, Technology and Innovation Centre, existing research partners from Poland and Hungary and stakeholders from public, commercial and social sectors. (E Joao and P Stewart)
Activity -Formal partner meeting
Activity- Pilot Research period 1. Two Postgraduate researchers (CEE and HRM) and one from UFG accompanied by Brian Garvey (HRM). Scoping research that geo-maps the physical influence of ethanol production on land and water use in Hull, provides for preliminary interviews with workers in the sector. Case study development of sustainable food and energy production in coastal Scotland based on community interviews. (B Garvey)

Stage 2 Brazil
Activity - Stewart, Jo, Garvey and postgraduate researcher in UFG. Field visits to south Goias expansion of agrofuel production for national and EU market."
01-Jan-2015 - 31-Jan-2015
SURICATES Interreg NWE 462 - Sediment Uses as Resources in Circular And Territorial Economies.
Lord, Richard (Principal Investigator) Bertram, Doug (Co-investigator) João, Elsa (Co-investigator) Zawdie, Girma (Co-investigator) Tarantino, Alessandro (Co-investigator)
Interreg NWE Industrial Research Partnership - Initial project phase
€5.67M total budget Includes €3.4M ERDF funding received from Interreg North-West Europe (2017-2021)
21-Jan-2017 - 21-Jan-2022
EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Power Networks and Smart Grids | Hall, Rebecca
João, Elsa (Principal Investigator) Knapp, Charles (Co-investigator) Hall, Rebecca (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2017 - 01-Jan-2022
Robust Decentralised Low Energy Faecal Sludge Dewatering leading to Sanitation, Clean Water and Sustainable Energy Resource - Natural Synergies
Lord, Richard (Principal Investigator) João, Elsa (Co-investigator) Knapp, Charles (Co-investigator)
"The project concerns dewatering/treatment of faecal sludge (black waters). Natural Synergies Ltd's (NS) aims are to develop a stand-alone dewatering process for rural areas of the UK/EU, reducing transport costs and carbon footprint and in developing countries as a low cost decentralised/localised sanitation system. The developed system can be also be used as a pre/post-cursor to a small scale anaerobic digestion (a follow-on proposal) or thermal unit, leading to closed loop decentralised, localised sanitation and off-grid energy generation. The dewatering process being developed will incorporate ultrasound to make available free, interstitial and cell water, together with electrokinetics to drive/separate water from faecal sludge via filter mesh. Preliminary work has shown potential for high levels of dewatering (15 - 40 % DM) and pathogen reduction (incl. helminths) at low energy inputs. System design will aim at non-specialised component manufacture, where possible, using local industries.

Our vision is to develop an entire new system of treating pit latrine wastes in developing countries, which not only generates renewable energy, but also a safe, useable fertilizer. In theory, this could be achieved now using conventional process technology. What is lacking, however, is a small scale robust system at relatively lower cost that can be operated with ease in remote areas. Our research contribution to delivering this is focussing on two specific challenges: Firstly, how to destroy human parasitic worms or their eggs, so as to allow safe reuse of the solidified material for agricultural fertilizer; Secondly, can we use locally available plant material to simultaneously increase the amount of energy, as biogas, which can be produced. The systems that Natural Synergies Ltd have been developing are highly effective but also highly innovative. We need to be sure of the overall environmental performance and social benefits of any new system, as well as its cost effectiveness. If successful this technology could also offer significant cost-savings and environmental benefits in developed countries at small-scale wastewater treatment plants in remote locations (e.g. Scottish Highlands), reducing road-tanker traffic, transport fuels and carbon emissions."
01-Jan-2017 - 31-Jan-2018
Zero Energy Distributed Micro Pumped Hydro-Innovate UK Early Stage Energy Catalyst Award - Water Powered Technology
Bertram, Doug (Principal Investigator) João, Elsa (Co-investigator) Kalin, Robert (Co-investigator) Tanyimboh, Tiku (Co-investigator)
Zero Energy Distributed Micro Pumped Hydro-Innovate UK Early Stage Energy Catalyst Award - Water Powered Technology
01-Jan-2016 - 30-Jan-2017

More projects

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Dr Elsa Joao
Senior Lecturer
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Email: elsa.joao@strath.ac.uk
Tel: 548 4056