The driving force behind Wollongong’s win in last year’s Solar Decathlon in China has spread his wings, forming a company to build and renovate homes to make them more energy efficient.
Soon after engineering masters student Scott Redwood started his company, Progenia, he started work on his first house job at Mount St Thomas.
For 27-year-old Mr Redwood, who was brought up and schooled in Wollongong, starting his business was a way to combine practical work with his study towards a masters of engineering in sustainable design.
For the solar decathlon competition, the team of 30, from the University of Wollongong and TAFE, first retrofitted a fibro house at a site in Wollongong, then dismantled it and shipped it to Datong in China for the competition judging.
Afterwards, for Mr Redwood, who studied at both institutions and was the design and construction manager on the decathlon project, there was no time to waste.
‘‘I wanted to jump on it [the opportunity] because I thought it would complement the masters,’’ he said.
His clients, Jim Sharkey and Robyn Douglass, came across the solar decathlon exhibition at the university, pointing them in exactly the direction they wanted for advice on their house repairs.
The Mount St Thomas couple, keen to make their house more energy efficient, engaged Progenia to design and manage their renovation.
‘‘I saw the [decathlon] photos and was very impressed,’’ Ms Douglass said. ‘‘They just did an excellent job. It looked good, it was functional and had so many energy-efficient [features].
‘‘We didn’t just want to get an airconditioner, [but] we didn’t know where to get that advice.’’
Like many in Wollongong, their fibro home was ripe for retrofitting.
Asbestos had been removed, recycled insulation installed and gaps closed, improving the air-tightness of the house.
Keeping cool or warm air in, depending on the season, substantially reduces the need for airconditioning and heating. Windows that face direct sun can be given a ‘‘smart’’ coating, which helps keep heat out.
Mr Redwood said his new venture could design and build houses from scratch, or retrofit existing homes to increase energy efficiency.