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 and the MSc in Environmental Entrepreneurship. 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 March 2022 she is involved in 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. 


Environmental impacts of decommissioning : onshore versus offshore wind farms
Hall Rebecca, João Elsa, Knapp Charles W
Environmental Impact Assessment Review Vol 83 (2020)
Can dredged canal sediments be used for flood defence as part of the Scottish circular economy?
Lord Richard, Bertram Doug, Cochrane Neil, Hamilton Alasdair, Jakstys Ignas, João Elsa, Robinson Peter, Torrance Keith
10th Annual Conference on the Advances in Land Contamination Assessment and Remediation (2019)
Scenario-based eLearning to promote active learning in large cohorts -Students' perspective
Mio Cristina, Ventura-Medina Esther, Joao Elsa
Computer Applications in Engineering Education Vol 27, pp. 894-909 (2019)
Using green infrastructure to add value and assist place-making in public realm developments
Donaldson Gary H, Joao Elsa
Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal (2019)
Recognising 'learning' as an uncertain source of SEA effectiveness
McLauchlan Anna, João Elsa
Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal Vol 37, pp. 299-311 (2019)
Can dredged canal sediments be used for flood defences as part of the Scottish circular economy?
Lord Richard, Bertram Douglas, Cochrane Neil, Hamilton Alasdair, Jakstys Ignas, Joao Elsa, Robinson Peter, Torrance Keith
35th International Conference on Geochemistry and Health

more publications


EV939 - Environmental Impact Assessment

CL936 - Writing and Presenting Research (for PhD students)

CL929 - Client-based environmental entrepreneurship in practice                        

CL986 - Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods

CL961 - Geographical Information Systems

CL973 - Independent study in collaboration with industry

CL988 - Leading Issues in Circular Economy

Socio-Economics of Wind Energy Systems

Business skills applied to wind energy systems

Professional activities

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
Visiting researcher

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)
01-Jan-2019 - 31-Jan-2022
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)
€5.7M Interreg NWE Industrial Research Partnership
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-2021
EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Wind & Marine Energy Systems | Hall, Rebecca
João, Elsa (Principal Investigator) Knapp, Charles (Co-investigator) Hall, Rebecca (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2017 - 01-Jan-2021
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
EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Wind & Marine Energy Systems | Topham, Eva
João, Elsa (Principal Investigator) McMillan, David (Co-investigator) Topham, Eva (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2016 - 01-Jan-2020

more projects


Civil and Environmental Engineering
James Weir Building

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