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Australian team wins international ‘energy Olympics’ in China

Team UOW Australia brings home gold with their Illawarra Flame House at the Solar Decathlon China 2013 Competition

Team UOW Australia, a partnership between the University of Wollongong and TAFE Illawarra, has been announced as the winner of the Solar Decathlon China 2013 finals ahead of 19 other entries from around the globe.

The University of Wollongong and TAFE Illawarra team received the following awards for their Illawarra Flame House at the first Solar Decathlon China finals:

FIRST PLACE IN THE SOLAR DECATHLON CHINA FINAL with 957.6 of a possible 1000 points

Juried contests:

- First place in ‘Engineering’

- First place in ‘Architecture’

- First place in ‘Solar Application’

- Second place in ‘Communications’
- Second place in ‘Market Appeal’

Measured contests:

First place in ‘Energy Balance’
First place in ‘Hot Water’

Second place in ‘Appliances’ 

The second place prize went to Team SCUT (South China University of Technology) with their E- Concave house on 951.8 points, with third being awarded to Team Sweden (Chalmers University of Technology) with their Halo house on 948.3 points. This is not only the first time an Australian team has won a Solar Decathlon, but the first time an Australian team has even made it to a Solar Decathlon final. In a demonstration of effective collaboration, students and teachers from both the University of Wollongong and TAFE Illawarra have pooled their knowledge, skills, research and experience to create their net-zero and innovative home.

Present at the Closing Ceremony of the Solar Decathlon China competition was University of Wollongong Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Judy Raper and Director of TAFE Illawarra, Dianne Murray. 

Professor Raper said, “Our students have achieved a remarkable feat here today. The tremendous effort that they have all put in over the past year or more has been recognised as world-class, and has demonstrated once again that the University of Wollongong is a world-leader in research and education in advanced environmentally sustainable technologies and in reducing the environmental impacts of our built environment”.

“The energy here in Datong has been electric,” said Dianne Murray, Director of TAFE Illawarra. “This has been a huge opportunity to show the world how far advanced the Illawarra is when it comes to clever, sustainable construction and design – and to establish our region as a global leader in this field.”

Exceeding all expectations, during the week of public exhibition so far at the Solar Decathlon China, Team UOW has shown over 20,000 Chinese locals through their home. Another 10,000 visitors are expected through the Illawarra Flame over the remaining three days of the display period. By the end of the exhibition period, it is estimated that over 300,000 people will have visited the Solar Decathlon China, making it the biggest in Solar Decathlon history.

The net-zero energy Illawarra Flame home, designed and built by students from the University of Wollongong and TAFE Illawarra, has been constructed from the ground up at the competition site in Datong and all materials shipped over from Australia. Nineteen other innovative solar powered houses designed by the world’s young sustainability experts of the future have been built alongside at the same time.

Giving it the winning edge that led to its first place finish, Team UOW Australia’s entry was the first house in Solar Decathlon history to demonstrate a retrofit of an existing home. Modelled on a 1960s Aussie fibro house floor plan, the Illawarra Flame House shows how to make existing houses energy efficient and comfortable to live in.

The Solar Decathlon China 2013 is being held in Datong, a former ancient capital, 300km west of Beijing, and is the first Solar Decathlon ever to be held in Asia.

Team UOW transformed the contents of their seven shipping containers into a beautiful, modern and technologically advanced, net-zero energy home in just 12 days. This was the culmination of two years of planning and design, three months of initial construction and a six-week journey across the Pacific Ocean.

“I am so proud of the tremendous effort that our students have put in over the past two years. From the initial planning, through detailed design, and then finally the construction of our house in both Wollongong and China, I cannot describe how much it means for the team to be awarded first place in the Solar Decathlon China 2013,” said Professor Paul Cooper, the Team UOW Faculty Advisor and Director of the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) at the University of Wollongong.

“This result confirms the fact that both the University of Wollongong and our partner, TAFE Illawarra, are leading Australian education and training organisations which compete with the very best in the world - in terms of engineering excellence and across a wide range of disciplines, Business to Arts”.

Professor Cooper went on to say, “The new Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) at UOW’s Innovation Campus will become home to the Illawarra Flame House after it is shipped back from China. There it will be opened regularly to the public, and become a part of the SBRC Living Laboratory program. Importantly, it will provide not only a test bed for new sustainable building technologies, but a vehicle to accelerate the adoption of sustainable retrofit technologies for homes in Australia and overseas”.

The Solar Decathlon is made up of 10 sub-competitions ranging from achievement of a net-zero energy balance to effective communications and home entertainment. Half of the contests are measured, such as fridge and house temperature, with the remaining contests being judged by panels of experts. Team

UOW achieved the highest overall score (957.555 of the 1000 possible points) of all the 20 teams in the finals.

The Solar Decathlon China 2013 is the highest profile interdisciplinary student-led green building research and innovation competition in the world. The competition will be hosted by the China National Energy Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy, and is organised by Peking University.

For more information on the team or the competition visit or contact Jack Breen, details below.

Jack Breen – Marketing & Communications Manager, Team UOW – University of Wollongong +86 156 1849 8761 (China) or or
Erin Campbell – Media and Public Relations Manager, TAFE Illawarra
+61 438 285 152 (Australia) or


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