25 May 2022

The University of East London (UEL) and Tongji University, Shanghai, will jointly enter the Orange County Sustainability Decathlon 2023 (OCSD23) to build a sustainable house in California.

UEL and Tongji University first became partners in 2019. Tongji University and UEL share unique similarities with campuses located in busy cities and close to waterfronts.
Over the past two years staff and students from UEL's School of Architecture, Computing and Engineering (ACE) and Tongji's College of Design and Innovation have worked closely, sharing their work and exchanging ideas around the regeneration of public spaces and sustainability. 

These initiatives laid the groundwork for the joint successful application to the OCSD23. Both UEL and Tongji University were jointly selected to enter the OCSD23 which will be held in Southern California in Spring 2023. 

Additionally, Tongji University and UEL are working together to strengthen our joint activities through the proposed Royal Docks Centre for Sustainability to be established in partnership with the Royal Docks Team. 

The decathlon challenges 18 teams built of up individuals and organisations to design, build, and market model housing prototypes that demonstrate a range of practical solutions to some of California's most urgent problems. 

These designed houses must be more resilient to natural disasters, wildfires and droughts which affect the California area, while also contributing to the decarbonisation of construction and encouraging energy and water efficient homes.  

Entering institutions must design their houses in California and will receive an award of $100,000 to contribute to costs. 

UEL is the only UK university to enter this competition and the work aligns with our strategic priorities and commitments to sustainability as set out in our ambitious Vision 2028

Participation in the decathlon marks the most recent step since signing our strategic partnership with Siemens, where we pledge to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. 

OCSD23 concept artwork


Professor Lou, Yongqi, vice-president of Tongji University, who is responsible for foreign affairs, said: "Sustainability permeates the research and education programs of the University. Since the 1990s, Tongji persists in aims that cultivate student leaders of sustainable development and equip them with knowledge, hands-on skills, innovative mindsets, global perspectives and strong senses of social responsibilities. 

"A global leader in sustainable development, Tongji was the first Asia-Pacific university receiving the International Sustainable Campus Excellence Award. I look forward to the good performance of the team! It will be one of the most important parts of our collaboration between Tongji University and UEL in sustainable development!"

Professor Su, Yunsheng, executive president of Shanghai International Institute of Design and Innovation of Tongji University and project leader, has been working closely with UEL in research and other academic collaboration. Based on his previous practice and research in low-carbon construction field, he initiated and orchestrated the joint team for OCSD23. 

He said, "This project will be an active attempt in the field of rapid construction and composite green energy buildings, we have made this proposal based on our technical accumulation in materials, construction technology, water treatment and energy supply, and we also hope that this proposal will become a sample for green low-carbon buildings."

Dr Arman Hashemi, senior lecturer and member of the Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) at UEL, said: "We are honoured to be selected alongside Tongji University for this decathlon. Together we will design and build an affordable, carbon natural prefabricated home in California in a sustainable village in Orange County. 

"The proposed house will benefit from the state-of-the-art equipment, robotic manufacturing technologies, innovative materials and fabrication processes to achieve highest standards in terms of energy performance and comfort while reducing costs, waste and construction time on site. 

"This is a challenging project as the house should not only achieve the highest sustainability standards, but also be an affordable market-ready home that people can occupy right away. We look forward to delivering this exciting project in the next few months."

Dr Paul Marshall, pro-vice chancellor careers and enterprise at UEL, said: "I am delighted that UEL and Tongji University have been selected to enter this important competition. 

"This success is evidence that our partnership is making a real impact. Sustainability is a key priority for us both and we will continue to work closely together to tackling climate change and improve the lives of people across the world. I look forward to seeing what we create in the decathlon."

For more information see the Orange County Sustainability Decathlon 2023 (OCSD23). 

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