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Rebecca Hartwell

Post-doctoral researcher


Keywords: Material science, Failure analysis, Material efficiency, Reclamation & Reuse, Natural materials, Design for disassembly, LCA

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Rebecca Hartwell is a Post-doctoral researcher in the Structural Design & Mechanics group. She recently completed her Ph.D. at the Dept. of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. Her Ph.D. research examined the role of material efficiency in architectural glass and façade design. This involved bridging the gap between industry and academia to develop the knowledge, tools, and technologies to promote the effective reuse and high-value recycling of building envelopes. Rebecca obtained a MEng in Material Science and Engineering from the University of Manchester in 2015 which included a 1-year industry placement at Siemens Magnet Technology, where she worked as a Student Manufacturing Process Engineer. After graduating in 2015, Rebecca worked as a Research Assistant under the supervision of Professor Philip Withers at the International Centre for Advanced Materials investigating the role of microstructure in the failure of composite natural materials using x-ray computed tomography.


Rebecca’s current research will focus on developing reversible connections for safe and sustainable load-bearing structures for an NWO-funded demonstrator project. Alongside her academic research, Rebecca contributes to several cross-industry working groups, including the Centre for Windows and Cladding Technology (CWCT) and BREEAM UK, working to develop guidance on sustainability in façade design. She also conducts independent research consultancy in the field of material efficiency which has included developing a model of the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of an international shipping company, and more recently working to increase the rates of flat glass reuse and recycling in the UK. At Cambridge University, she supervised courses in “Environmental Sustainability & Business” and “Material Science” for first- and third-year undergraduate engineers.

Selected Publications:

  • Hartwell, R., Coult, G. & Overend, M. Mapping the flat glass value-chain: a material flow analysis and energy balance of UK production. Glass Structures and Engineering (2022); SI: Glass Circularity;

  • Hartwell R., Macmillan S., Overend M.; Circular economy of façades: Real-world challenges and opportunities; Resources, Conservation and Recycling (2021); Volume 175, SI: Climate Mitigation from Circular and Sharing Economy in the Buildings Sector; 2021;

  • Hartwell R., Overend M.; Effects of Humidity and the Presence of Moisture at the Bond-line on the Interfacial Separation of Laminated Glass for Flat Glass Re-use; Proceedings of Challenging Glass 7 - Conference on Architectural and Structural Applications of Glass; September 2020

  • Hartwell R., Overend M.; End-of-Life Challenges in Façade Design: A disassembly framework for assessing the environmental reclamation potential of façade systems; Façade Tectonics World Congress 2020

  • Hartwell R., Overend M.; Unlocking the re-use potential of glass façade systems; Glass Performance Days 2019; p273-280; Tampere, Finland

  • Sykes D., Hartwell R., Bradley R.S., Burnett T.L., Hornberger B., Garwood R.J., Withers P.J.; Time-lapse three-dimensional imaging of crack propagation in beetle cuticle; Acta Biomaterialia; 86; 2019; p109-116;

  • Patterson B., Cordes N., Henderson K., Mertens J., Clarke A., Hornberger B., Merkle A., Etchin S., Tkachuk A., Leibowitz M., Trapp D., Qiu W., Zhang B., Bale H., Lu X., Hartwell R., Withers P., Bradley R.; In Situ Laboratory-Based Transmission X-Ray Microscopy and Tomography of Material Deformation at the Nanoscale; Experimental Mechanics; 56; 2016; p1585–1597


Selected Research Projects:

- ReSolved: Reversible soldered connections based on 3D-printed technology for safe and sustainable load-bearing structures – Research Project


Selected Awards

-Façade Tectonics 2020 World Congress Conference: Top 4 paper of 118 submissions (2020)

-Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) Research Scholarship (2016)

-BP Achievement Award Scholarship (2015)


Invited Talks

-Technical presentation for Society of Façade Engineers (27 April 2022)

-Technical presentation for bvGlas AK Klima und Nachhaltigkeit / Climate and Sustainability (1 March 2022)

-Technical presentation for Permasteelisa S.p.A. (19 October 2021)

-Research presentation for Kohn Pederson Fox: GRoW (28 September 2021)

-Research presentation for Eckersley O’Callaghan (11 January 2021)

-Research presentation for Foster & Partners: Specialist Modelling Group (16 October 2020)

-Research presentation for Enclos (15 August 2020)

-2020 World Congress Series Podcast | End-of-Life Challenges in Facade Design;


Professional Memberships & Affiliations​

Centre for Window and Cladding Technology: Elected to sustainability oversight committee in October 2022

BREEAM Circularity Task Working Group (2021 – present)

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