Minister for Illawarra Greg Pearce, Minister for Higher Education and Skills Sharon Bird, vice-chancellor Professor Paul Wellings and Chinese consul Deming Zheng.

7 May 2013 — The first Australian entry in the international Solar Decathlon, the Illawarra Flame House, built by the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus, has been unveiled.

The entry, in what is known as the Energy Olympics and hosted by the China National Energy Administration and the US Department of Energy, was unveiled by the Minister for the Illawarra Greg Pearce, along with a special message of congratulations from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

See the message here

Later this month the Illawarra Flame House will be deconstructed and loaded on to shipping containers for transport to Datong, China, where it will await the arrival of Team UOW and the start of the Solar Decathlon in August.

In designing its entry, Team UOW has taken a classic 1950s fibro cottage and transformed it into an energy neutral house creating “a warm, clean, aesthetically pleasing house – with no bills”, UOW vice-chancellor Paul Wellings said.

Mr Wellings said the house incorporated real and applicable sustainable solutions that could be applied to any ageing Australian home.

“Through the Sustainable Building Research Centre, the University of Wollongong is leading the way in researching and collaborating with industry to meet the challenge of improving the energy efficiency of our ageing homes and building stock,” he said.

“On return from China the Illawarra Flame will become a key research tool for the SBRC to develop and deliver advanced retrofit technologies, integrated component testing, skills training and to research the impacts of day-to- day behaviours of building occupants.”

During the Solar Decathlon, Team UOW will compete in 10 events including one that will test the Illawarra Flame’s liveability and energy efficiency such as cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, watching a movie, hosting a dinner party as well as the marketability and affordability of the house.

It is the first time that an Australian team has been selected to participate in the Solar Decathlon with Team UOW the first to retrofit an existing house.

Project manager Lloyd Niccol said the project, and others like it, were critical to the future health and wellbeing of the planet.

The Illawarra Flame house contains a number of features including pre-fabricated pods which contain the energy efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning units, electrical and water systems.

It also incorporates:

  • Photovoltaic-thermal solar system
  • Active phase change material
  • Innovative building management systems
  • Heavily insulated and airtight thermal envelope
  • State-of-the-art photovoltaics
  • Greywater treatment

Details on the project are here: www.illawarraflame.com.au

Footage of the construction of the house is here: www.youtube.com/user/IllawarraFlameAU