Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Sustainable Buildings Research Centre


The Solar Decathlon competition started in 2002. Since then, Solar Decathlon has acted as a showcase and source of innovation in the field of sustainability for housing and for the construction industry at large. This thesis has utilised data from Solar Decathlon competitions to understand the nature of innovations involved with progressively building and refining the technology required for sustainable housing. As such, the focus and drive of this thesis is to present an image of the Solar Decathlon competition as openly creating and synthesising new knowledge about sustainability-oriented innovation. It can be stated that understanding the precise factors that make innovation happen can be convoluted in nature. The Solar Decathlon portrays these characteristics, is internationally recognised as the premier competition for prototyping sustainability-oriented innovation, and demonstrates the human features involved with progress in the field of sustainable housing. The thesis is original in that it is the first that addresses innovation and its management through human-centred design, and describes its processes, that can be henceforth taken up by the building industry.

Utilising the experience of the Innovations Coordinator of Team UOW (University of Wollongong), this thesis describes and analyses the nature of innovation involved with the Desert Rose house (UOW Solar Decathlon entry), including knowledge of how innovation happened in real time during its construction. This thesis asks the question: What is the nature of innovation involved with sustainable housing? The answer to this question is not resolved simply through experiencing the construction of the Desert Rose, or through an objective analysis of the available Solar Decathlon data sets. Rather, this thesis proposes that the answer can be obtained through comprehensive multi-disciplinary research, including: (i) analysis of available innovation related Solar Decathlon data sets from leading houses, (ii) the development of an innovations management framework for sustainability-oriented technology, (iii) a case study of the Desert Rose Solar Decathlon entry in 2018 in the broader context of design, construction, innovation and sustainability, and (iv) tracing innovation through development of a specific sustainability-oriented technology from Desert Rose.

FoR codes (2008)

091305 Energy Generation, Conversion and Storage Engineering, 091599 Interdisciplinary Engineering not elsewhere classified, 120104 Architectural Science and Technology (incl. Acoustics, Lighting, Structure and Ecologically Sustainable Design), 150307 Innovation and Technology Management



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.