Aug/Sept 2013: B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design

                         Australia Wins 2013 Solar Decathlon China

This August, the University of Wollongong in Australia took home first place in the China Solar Decathlon 2013 with their Illawara Flame House.

illawarra flame house

The Illawara Flame House designed by UOW Australia. Image via Inhabitat.

Co-hosted by the US Department of Energy, and the National Energy Administration China, this was the inaugural Solar Decathlon on Asian soil.  Much as American and European competitions do, the China 2013 competition challenges university teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.

Why is it beautiful? Richard King, from the US Department of Energy, calls the victory of the first ever retrofitted home to enter the competition “remarkable.” He commended the Illawara Flame as a  “modern, very energy efficient house that won the praise of everyone who [went] into it.” The Australian team was inspired by their native Illawara Flame Tree’s spring time renewal and transformation – a metaphor for their radical approach to refurbishing an existing home rather than creating a brand new building.

Why is it useful? “It all began with the idea of retrofit,” Team UOW explain in their walk-through video of the Illawara Flame home, which has been designed for an older couple whose children have left home. The home design emphasizes water efficiency, solar energy harvesting, passive design and advanced ventilation systems.

Three bedrooms have been converted into two, with a large open space for the dining room and living room. Multiple windows promote flow between indoor and outdoor space.

Why is it green? With 8 million homes in Australia that account for 13% of carbon dioxide emissions, refurbishing existing ‘fibro’ homes to a net zero energy standard upcycles homes for the next generation. It also eliminates the waste of tearing down existing buildings.

“The Illawarra Flame is perfect for clients looking to downsize while ensuring a clean energy future for their grandchildren,” explains Team UOW. The jurors thought so too, and Australians took home first prize!

Want more info on a ‘fibro’ house and exactly how it fits into the Australian landscape? Check out this informative overview from Matt Hickman at Mother Nature Network.

Visit Sally’s Blog for more B.U.G. Designs.

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