Building the FirstLight house: Applied research in sustainability
Authors: Marriage, Guy
ABSTRACT: Sitting on the junction between theory and practice, the design and construction of
sustainable buildings has become one of the major growth areas of architecture over the past decade.
The growth of ‘green’ ESD buildings is also providing impetus and direction for the growing field of
sustainability in building science.
The aim of this paper is to chart the progress to date of the FirstLight House, an entry in the United
States Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 competition. This entry was initiated by a studentled
design competition, which realised theory through the actual construction of a full sized
experimental dwelling, to be constructed and deconstructed as a working laboratory.
As the project is ongoing, the paper addresses issues that have been resolved, and future issues to be
faced in the coming months. The project bridges the gap between the theory and practicalities of
architecture. Outcomes are being used to inform both teaching and practice within the School of
Architecture at Victoria University, New Zealand.