Retrofitted home-design wins international energy award

Team UOW Australia from the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, has won the 2013 Solar Decathlon China with the Illawarra Flame Australia house.

The house is a demonstration of how typical Australian homes built in the 1950-60s can be retrofitted with a wide range of advanced energy management technologies, thereby avoiding many of the environmental impacts that would have resulted from building a new home from scratch.

This was the first time a retrofitted home was entered in a decathlon – an international contest held by the US Department of Energy. The competition challenges international colleges and universities to design, build and operate the most attractive, effective and energy-efficient solar-powered house within 10 days.

Team UOW marketing and communications manager Jack Breen said the idea to target existing housing stock fits with the university’s focus on retrofitting already-developed infrastructure.

“The team clearly understands that as a society with the goal of a sustainable future, we need to find an effective way to make our existing houses energy efficient – in a way that is beautiful, functional and affordable,” Mr Breen said.

Schneider Electric is a major sponsor of the Solar Decathlon – one of the largest global university competitions focused on energy management in homes. To help Team WOW achieve the goal, Schneider Electric donated a C-Bus Control system, along with occupancy and light sensors, sweep fan control relay and a 6.4 inch C-Touch colour touch screen.

“The research from our involvement in the project will live on and continue at the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) as the house becomes a living laboratory,” Mr Breen said.

“We will also be researching different tiers of a retrofit and the payoff periods for each of them.”