Demonstrating sustainability retrofits through the design, construction and operation of the Team UOW Illawarra Flame Solar Decathlon house
The Team UOW Illawarra Flame house was designed and constructed for the 2013 China Solar Decathlon competition held in Datong, China in August 2013. The Illawarra Flame was the first Solar Decathlon competition entrant to demonstrate retrofitting of an existing home, which was selected to align with research initiatives of the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) at the University of Wollongong. Retrofitting sustainability technologies required careful management during the design and construction to achieve desired outcomes. In addition, demonstrating the operation of retrofitted sustainability technologies and implementing effective control was complex as the technologies and control components are often concealed from view of building occupants. This paper outlines the design and construction of the Illawarra Flame house in order to meet the Solar Decathlon competition requirements and fulfil research objectives of the SBRC. Managing design and construction was complicated by Team UOW being primarily student based and subject to time and cost pressure. A number of challenges and opportunities were faced during the project and these will be presented from the perspective of one of the student team leaders, who was also the services manager for the project. The operation of the house during the contests held during the Solar Decathlon competition finals is also discussed, including demonstration of retrofitting technologies. The paper also introduces a prototype building information system developed for the demonstration of retrofitted sustainability technologies and to enable building operation feedback to building occupants. The system was developed utilising the learning outcomes from the design, construction and operation of the Illawarra Flame home and is designed to remove some of the barriers associated with home occupant behaviour, which potentially reduce the impact of energy efficiency and sustainability retrofitted technologies.