Monash Solar Decathlon Team win international design challenge

Congratulations to the Monash Solar Decathlon Team for their success at the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Design Challenge, held virtually across the weekend of 17-19 April 2020. The team won first place in the Suburban Single-Family home division and finished as finalists in the Attached Housing and Mixed-Use Multifamily divisions.

Comprised of Engineering, Science, and Art, Design and Architecture students, the team’s winning design, ‘Surreal Estate’, used sustainable design strategies for a suburban single-family home located in a bushfire prone outer-suburban fringe development. The design was optimised to provide families with a fire-resistant, affordable and net-zero energy home, and was presented to the judges in a virtual session comprising a 25 minute presentation and a live Q&A session.

Innovations included bushfire resistance and resilience strategies such as fire breaks, outdoor sprinkler systems, local, versatile and fire-resistant building materials, backup power supply, and generous rainwater tanks for additional fire-fighting water supply.

The design also incorporated high-performance materials to minimise the energy required for heating, water conservation approaches such as utilising drought-resistant native Australian flora for landscaping, and delivering an affordable construction cost $100,000 lower than average for a 200 sq. meter home in Melbourne.

“That Surreal Estate was selected as the winner of the Suburban Single-Family division is a huge testament to their hard work and attention to detail, as well as their poise and professionalism during their interaction with the jury,” said team supervisor Dr Brandon Winfrey from the Department of Civil Engineering. ”I am proud of the entire team, including all of our finalists across the three divisions.”

Team member Sarah Yin said, “I really enjoyed being on the Solar Decathlon team and I’m sure everyone else did as well. We've all learned so much and worked so hard for the past year. I'm glad the hard work paid off and we all made it to finals, especially for our first year. and look forward to the future of our team. Thank you to Brandon for supporting us throughout."

A prestigious international student competition hosted at the United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, the Solar Decathlon comprises ten contests that challenges student teams to design and build highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy. The Monash team was the only Australian team to compete amongst 48 other teams from across the United States, China, Canada, India, Saudi Arabia and Ecuador.

Watch the team’s presentation here: