Transforming an iconic 1960s house into a home of the future recognised for its contribution to engineering.

The solar-powered, net-zero energy Illawarra Flame house, designed and built by Team UOW, students and staff from the university and Illawarra TAFE, was joint winner of the President’s Award at the Sydney Engineering Excellence Awards (SEEA 2014).

Team UOW was also highly commended in the Environment and Heritage Category.

SEEA 2014 recognises the contribution engineers make to community through innovation, teamwork, ingenuity and creativity. Winners of 13 categories were chosen from 49 finalists and announced at a gala dinner of the Engineers Australia, Sydney Division, on Friday (19 September 2014).

Team UOW was up against some of the most prestigious engineering projects in the country as a finalist in two categories: Environment and Heritage; and Building and Structures.

The Illawarra Flame house was designed and built for entry in the Solar Decathlon China 2013 and won ahead of 19 other university teams from around the world, with the highest overall score in the history of Solar Decathlon competitions.

The technologies developed by the students include solar electricity and thermal energy harvesting systems, a thermal mass wall that helps regulate temperature and is made from crushed recycled terracotta roof tiles, and an advanced domestic building management system that also monitors energy production and consumption.

Professor Paul Cooper, Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) Director and Faculty Advisor on the Illawarra Flame project, said it was an example of how anyone renovating or building a home can embrace sustainable materials and technology while maintaining comfort and affordability.

“At the top level, this project showed that research-led innovations such as a photo-voltaic thermal system provides not only solar electricity but captures the thermal energy from under the panels and diverts that into heating and cooling,” Professor Cooper said.

Team UOW member Emily Ryan said the award was a fitting representation of the collaborative nature of the project.

“Team UOW was a true team, we made decisions together, taught each other, and had the same goal in mind, to show what Australia and students from Wollongong are capable of achieving,” she said.

“Engineers Australia seek to create a more sustainable future for Australia, and we truly brought that to life with our innovative project as engineers, designers and communicators of the future.”

More: The multiple award-winning Illawarra Flame house will be on show as part of the SBRC Open Day on Saturday 25 October. The Open Day includes building tours, expert speakers, sustainable buildings products showcase and a host of activities that will provide sustainable building inspiration. See:

Media contact: Grant Reynolds, UOW Media & PR Officer, on +61 417 010 350 or