The newest building on Innovation Campus produces more power than it uses and is heated using pumps that draw warmth from up to 90 metres beneath the ground.
On the roof, a giant, futuristic silver test rig tilts a row of photovoltaic cells towards and away from the sun.
The multi-tonne contraption spins around in some testing scenarios against the steady backdrop of Mount Keira.
Senator Eric Abetz visited Wollongong on Thursday to officially open the building, the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC), almost three years after construction began.
It was designed by architects Cox Richardson, built using $25.1 million from the government's Education Investment Fund and has captured the imagination of a league of industry and university supporters.
It serves as a research facility and a living laboratory with a long list of environmentally friendly features, including ultra-low energy consumption, water harvesting and extensive monitoring and building control systems.
Its researchers are tasked with developing new retrofitting techniques and technologies to improve the design and efficiency of buildings.
UOW Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings said industry groups would use the site to test larger-scale materials, have them certified and brought more quickly to the market.
"It should not be lost on us that this is a global centre rather than just an Illawarra centre, something that will be transformative for industry partners all over the place," he said.
The building has a six-star rating on the Australian Green Star code.
SBRC director Professor Paul Cooper said he expected the building would become Australia's first accredited Living Building, under an American certification.
"Importantly for the region, access to research-based knowledge will enable up-skilling of the regional workforce that will improve the skill sets and economic opportunities for local companies and their employers," he said.
The building is the seventh built in 10 years at Innovation Campus.
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