Zhi Cao
University of Antwerp
Antwerp, Belgium
Member ID 1807
Member since Mar 15, 2019
Status Active


I am broadly interested in industrial ecology and built environment stocks, with specific expertise in material flow analysis (MFA) and life cycle assessment (LCA). Over the past years, driven by the motivation to understand the interactions between the built environment and the natural environment, I developed industrial ecology tools to examine the techno-economic feasibility of implementing low-carbon and circular economy strategies in the built environment and identify technology and policy pathways that can enable sustainable transitions in material cycles closely tied with the built environment.


Short CV
Starting in January 2021, I hold a tenure-track assistant professor position at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. Prior to joining the University of Antwerp, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Energy and Resource Systems Analysis Laboratory, Northwestern University, United States, and the Center for Life Cycle Engineering, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark. I earned my Ph.D. from the Institute of Geographic Sciences & Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in 2017.

Representative Publications
Cao, Zhi, Lei Shen, Amund N. Løvik, Daniel B. Müller, and Gang Liu. "Elaborating the history of our cementing societies: an in-use stock perspective." Environmental Science & Technology 51, no. 19 (2017): 11468-11475.
Cao, Zhi, Lei Shen, Shuai Zhong, Litao Liu, Hanxiao Kong, and Yanzhi Sun. "A probabilistic dynamic material flow analysis model for Chinese urban housing stock." Journal of Industrial Ecology 22, no. 2 (2018): 377-391.
Cao, Zhi, Rupert J. Myers, Richard C. Lupton, Huabo Duan, Romain Sacchi, Nan Zhou, T. Reed Miller, Jonathan M. Cullen, Quansheng Ge, and Gang Liu. "The sponge effect and carbon emission mitigation potentials of the global cement cycle." Nature communications 11, no. 1 (2020): 1-9.
Cao, Zhi, and Eric Masanet. "Material efficiency to tackle the sand crisis." Nature Sustainability 5, no. 5 (2022): 370-371.
Watari, Takuma*, Zhi Cao*, Sho Hata, and Keisuke Nansai. "Efficient use of cement and concrete to reduce reliance on supply-side technologies for net-zero emissions." Nature communications 13, no. 1 (2022): 1-9.

Research Interests

material flow analysis
life cycle assessment
sustainable built environment
industrial decarbonization

Website contributions from this member

30 Mar 2021 Our highlight this week: Zhi Cao