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Mr Wallace is a professional practice fellow in the design studies department at the University of Otago.
His research project has been chosen to heat water in Victoria University's sustainable house, which is entered in the United States Department of Energy solar decathlon in Washington DC next year.
The biennial research challenge was established in 2002 and is limited to 20 universities worldwide.
Mr Wallace said the combined entry was the first from New Zealand or Australia in the design competition.
The event highlighted and tested new technologies which promised a "demonstrable benefit" for society.
Using mirrors to reflect sunlight on to "absorbers", which heat water, Mr Wallace's design is not unique.
The idea is used by large commercial entities, but Mr Wallace says the technology is not available for domestic housing.
His work with micro-parabolic collectors uses the principles of large, commercial technologies in an application suitable for housing.
He hopes his design will be available within a decade in Third World countries as an inexpensive source of water heating.
Mr Wallace was delighted to be contributing to Victoria University's project.
"This event is an opportunity to rethink the role of energy efficient housing in both a local and global context.
"Architecture and the building sector not only account for 50% of the world's energy consumption, they also consume 50% of its resources and create 40% of the world's waste.
"This highlights the need for innovative solutions to both energy consumption and the use of materials in construction," he said.