Australia wins gold for net-zero energy home

Australia has won gold this week for the Illawarra Flame, a net-zero energy home entered in the Solar Decathlon China 2013.

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

The net-zero energy home, called the Illawarra Flame, has been designed and built by students and constructed from the ground up at the competition site in Datong, China.

Giving it the winning edge, 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.

Team UOW transformed the contents of their seven shipping containers into a beautiful, modern and technologically advanced 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.


The Illawarra Flame was awarded 957.6 out of a possible 1000 points. It also received:

• First place in engineering

• First place in architecture

• First place in solar application

• Second place in communications

• Second place in market appeal

• First place in energy balance

• First place in hot water

• Second place in appliances.

It is estimated that over 300,000 people will have visited the Solar Decathlon China, making it the biggest in Solar Decathlon in history.

“The energy here in Datong has been electric,” said Dianne Murray, Director of TAFE Illawarra.

“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.

Read our article about the Illawarra Flame’s innovative garden design in Sanctuary 24. Find more info on the Illawarra Flame on the team’s website.


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