Competing in the Solar Decathlon in Dubai in 2018, The University of Wollongong (UOW) teamed up with TAFE NSW to create the ‘Desert Rose’ house – a net-zero energy home specifically designed for people living with dementia and other age-related diseases.
Dubbed the ‘Energy Olympics’, the Solar Decathlon is an international competition that challenges collegiate teams to design, construct and operate solar powered houses that are sustainable, stylish and cost-effective.
As dementia is the leading cause of disability for Australians aged 65 and over, the Desert Rose team goal was to build an architecturally inspiring and innovative home adaptive to a person’s needs as they age.
“Desert Rose house is equipped with new technology and sustainable materials, some that are not yet available in the current construction market,” says Luca Faidutti, design and construction manager for the project. “It is a two-bedroom, 90-square metre home that incorporates architectural, interior design and technological features intended to make life easier and promote wellbeing for those living with dementia and their carers.”
The team went above and beyond the sustainability requirements, aiming for the Living Building Challenge, an international certification that encompasses a holistic approach to achieving sustainability through innovative design, smart solutions, minimal waste and connection to nature.
The main energy strategy of the Desert Rose house is to maximise the self-consumption of renewables, relying as little on grid energy as possible. This is achieved using optimal control of the solar resources and the on-site energy storage, with the battery control specially developed by Team UOW.
With the need to complete a test build at the UOW site before dismantling and transporting it to Dubai, each building material selection was critical. For internal linings, Team UOW selected CSR Gyprock products due to their excellent reputation in the industry and overall technical performance. Gyprock EC08 Complete 13mm and 16mm plasterboard was used throughout the interior of the house, including walls and ceilings, along with premium Gyprock compounds.
“Gyprock’s performance thoroughly met our goals and objectives for this build,” says Faidutti. “EC08 Complete was purposely chosen for its high level of recycled content and superior performance against mould, impact damage and moisture – contributing to a healthier and more durable home environment.”
Mould resistance is an important consideration in specialised projects like Desert Rose, where a higher level of focus is placed on issues of occupant health and comfort. EC08 Complete’s mould resistant additive ensures it achieves the best possible score in the ASTM G-21 test for mould growth, with no other wall lining material available in Australia achieving a better result. Furthermore, EC08 Complete is approved by the National Asthma Council Australia's Sensitive Choice program as a better choice for asthma and allergy sufferers.
In November 2018, it was announced that Team UOW placed second in the competition. “The biggest reward has already come from knowing how many lives were, and hopefully will be, positively affected by Desert Rose,” says Faidutti.
The UOW is the only Australian university to have made it to the world finals after a lengthy and detailed selection process. They are also the first-ever Australian team to take out gold in the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition held in China with their sustainable retrofit Illawarra Flame House.
For more information visit www.gyprock.com.au
Images courtesy of Gyprock