Illawarra Flame house finds Sustainability Street a place to call home

Illawarra Flame house finds Sustainability Street a place to call home

The award-winning Illawarra Flame house will be the first working model of sustainable building practices.

The completion of the first house on UOW's ‘Sustainability Street’ was celebrated on Tuesday (3 June) with the presentation of an international award for excellence in sustainable design.

After being built, dismantled and rebuilt three times in little more than a year, the Illawarra Flame house now has a permanent home at UOW’s Innovation Campus where it will be used for research, development and testing of the ideas that formed part of its design and construction.

The team behind the project will celebrate the latest milestone with the presentation of the 2013 International Green Gown Award for a student-run sustainable home project.

Now in their 10th year, the Green Gown Awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the world.

The Illawarra Flame house was designed and built by Team UOW, students and staff from UOW and Illawarra TAFE, to demonstrate how an existing Australian 1960s fibro house could be turned into a solar-powered, net-zero energy home of the future.

The house was designed and built for entry in the Solar Decathlon China 2013 where Team UOW went on to win ahead of 19 other university teams from around the world, with the highest overall score in the history of Solar Decathlon competitions.

At its permanent home, the Illawarra Flame will be a proving ground for cutting-edge sustainable building technologies, including those designed by students at UOW and which contributed to Team UOW’s multiple international awards.

The technologies developed by the students include solar electricity and thermal energy harvesting systems, a thermal mass wall that helps regulate temperature and is made from crushed recycled terracotta roof tiles, and an advanced domestic building management system that also monitors energy production and consumption.

Professor Paul Cooper, SBRC Director and Faculty Advisor on the Illawarra Flame project, said it was an example of how anyone renovating or building a home can embrace sustainable materials and technology while maintaining comfort and affordability.

“The International Green Gown Award is a fitting reward for the grand challenge that Team UOW members took on and one I hope will inspire the broader community to follow when they build or renovate their own homes”, he said.

“We have plans to build a further three houses on our ‘Sustainability Street’ to enable us to showcase and demonstrate how research-driven building innovations can address the global challenge of efficient energy use.”

Plans are also being finalised to enable the house to be used as short-term accommodation, with tenants participating in research on use of the sustainable building technologies.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings said the Illawarra Flame project and the International Green Gown award were recognition of what could be achieved by harnessing the diverse skill sets of UOW and its partners.

“The Illawarra Flame house and the projects that follow in our Sustainability Street will be key tools for SBRC to develop and deliver advanced building design, construction and operational technologies while developing the skills of students and industry in the region.”

President of Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability, Ms Leanne Denby, congratulated Team UOW on an outstanding example of student initiative.

“Not only was the university's Illawarra Flame house entry deemed the winner of the Green Gown Awards Australasia, but it was also recognised as the winner of the same category amongst international peers. It is always a pleasure to present awards for such amazing examples of sustainability best practice.”