UOW students working on the Sustainable Homes Challenge

Housing Trust backs student challenge to design sustainable, healthy, affordable homes

Housing Trust backs student challenge to design sustainable, healthy, affordable homes

Community housing provider named as lead sponsor of UOW’s Sustainable Homes Challenge

Housing Trust, BlueScope and Engineers Australia have put their support behind the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) 2021 Sustainable Homes Challenge, with the Housing Trust named as lead sponsor, and BlueScope and Engineers Australia as supporting sponsors.

Organised by UOW’s Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) and funded by McKinnon Walker Trust, the Sustainable Homes Challenge brings university students from across Australia together to design sustainable, healthy and affordable homes.

This year’s Challenge is focused on the world’s waste problem, in particular, using waste to build sustainable and liveable homes.

The students – including participants from Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and the ACT, as well as New South Wales – join together in teams to create a design proposal for the construction of a home that includes innovative components made from available waste-derived materials.

Their designs will be based on Housing Trust’s latest social and affordable housing development in Corrimal.

UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia M. Davidson welcomed the sponsors’ contributions and said they each brought different perspectives and expertise to the Challenge.

“I am delighted that Housing Trust has chosen to become involved in this year’s Sustainable Homes Challenge,” Professor Davidson said.

“As a community-based, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to building communities and providing high-quality, low-cost housing to those who need it most, Housing Trust is a very good fit with the values and aims of the Challenge.

“BlueScope and Engineers Australia also bring enormous industry experience, which will be of immense value to the students.”

Housing Trust Chief Executive Officer Ms Michele Adair said that good design required an empathetic response to the future residents.

“We have shared our design guidelines and briefed the participating students to emphasise that a home needs to be both a secure refuge from the world and connected to it,” Ms Adair said.

“Getting the right balance between resources, quality and liveability is a huge challenge when building Affordable Housing.  I can’t wait to see some of the innovations developed in the competition brought to life in our buildings in the near future.” 

SBRC Director Professor Tim McCarthy said Housing Trust’s involvement would provide the students with an invaluable opportunity to put their minds to work on finding solutions to real world problems.

SBRC Director Professor Tim McCarthy

SBRC Director Professor Tim McCarthy.

“We really value the Housing Trust’s support both through sponsorship and by providing real designs for our students to work on.  It is great to see Housing Trust’s openness to having the students pull apart designs they have been refining over many years.

“The students will be pushing the limits on how we can tweak or radically shake up the designs to include waste products, life-cycle analysis of the impact of their decisions and sustainable initiatives to ensure the homes are comfortable to live in for occupants, while strengthening the sense of community.

“All three sponsors bring serious expertise to the initiative, and will be acting as judges, offering site visits and case studies among other contributions.”

The successful designs will need to be:

  • Sustainable, achieving high levels of building performance, including efficient building fabric and systems, using low impact materials;
  • Healthy, supporting healthy and happy lives, from the construction materials used to the layout of the home; and
  • Affordable, with potential for the design to be mass-produced in a cost-effective way to contribute to solutions for affordable housing.

The teams are currently in the “Groundwork phase” of the challenge, creating a design proposal for a home from built from waste.

For the Finale Week of the Challenge, from 29 November to 3 December, the teams will be joining in for a week of workshops, industry engagement and design challenges culminating in the final public virtual presentations of the design proposals.


Housing Trust is a for-purpose community housing provider. Housing Trust creates opportunities, enriches lives and builds communities in the Illawarra, by providing safe, secure, comfortable and affordable rental housing.


The aim of the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre is to research, collaborate, and link with industry to meet the challenge of improving the performance of our new and existing building stock focused on making buildings more liveable, more sustainable, more cost-effective and kinder to our environment.