News
Jenna Bradwell
18/12/2012

Team UOW to light up international competition

Students from UOW and TAFE Illawarra Institute are hoping the ‘Illawarra Flame’, a net-zero energy, solar powered house designed by the group, will set fire to the competition at 2013’s Solar Decathlon China event.

The students, known as Team UOW Australia, are the first Australians ever to be selected for the Solar Decathlon, the world’s most prestigious interdisciplinary student-led green building research and innovation competition.

The Decathlon, held in Datong, China, challenges teams to design, build and operate an advanced and appealing solar-powered house that is not only energy efficient but also cost effective to build.

Team UOW’s entry is unique in that, rather than building a new home, the students are the first team ever to demonstrate the retrofit of an existing home. Project Manager Lloyd Niccol said that Illawarra Flame provides an example of how the Australian housing sector can address issues of environmental degradation and growing electricity costs through the application of innovative technologies and creative thinking.

“Since only 1-2 per cent of Australia’s housing stock is replaced each year, improving the performance of our existing buildings provides the greatest potential for immediate environmental improvement,” he said.

The team will construct the full size house in the Illawarra before shipping it to China for the competition finals in August 2013. The retrofitting concept will see the team demonstrate the transformation of an old Aussie ‘fibro’ house to a sustainable, net-zero energy home for the future.

“We are looking into how we can adapt our houses with new and existing technologies, such as Photovoltaic Thermal systems and water filtration systems, to provide the housing sector with examples of how we can future-fit our houses for a more environmentally conscious future,” Mr Niccol said.

11 members of Team UOW recently attended the China International Solar Energy Summit and the SD China 2013 Design Development and Review Workshop in Datong.

Mr Niccol said it was exciting to see where the team’s house will be built and that the site where the decathlon will take place is bigger than the Beijing Olympic Park.

“The design review workshops were valuable as we can now refine our plans and begin construction soon,” he said.

Team UOW will soon begin construction of the Illawarra Flame at the TAFE Illawarra campus. The house will then be packed up and shipped to Datong in June 2013. The students will then reassemble the house over a 10 day period, ready to compete against a host of leading university teams from around the world and the arrival of hundreds of thousands of visitors.

The Solar Decathlon China 2013 will be hosted by the Chinese National Energy Administration and the US Department of Energy. The competition is organised by Peking University and supported by private companies.

To track Team UOW’s progress and for further information visit the Illawarra Flame website.

Click here to see an animated walkthrough of the Illawarra Flame house.

By Jenna Bradwell

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  • Members of Team UOW with a miniature model of the Illawarra Flame.

  • Miniature model of the Illawarra Flame.

  • An artist’s impression of the Illawarra Flame.

  • Team UOW in front of a typical fibro home- the type they will demonstrate the fetrofit of, for their Solar Decathlon entry.

  • Team UOW students at the site of the competition in Datong, China.The Decathlon will be held in August 2013.