University of Calgary

University of Calgary

August 14, 2013 11:46 ET

Team Alberta completes solar house, offers public tours

University of Calgary and Mount Royal University students to compete in 2013 Solar Decathlon

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Aug. 14, 2013) - Today, students from the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University celebrated the completion of their solar house, Borealis. The team also announced it will host public open houses from 11 a.m. to 5 pm. on Saturday, August 17 and Sunday, August 18. Shortly afterwards, students will disassemble the structure and travel to Irvine, Calif., to take part in the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition.

Borealis is Team Alberta's third entry in the international competition, which takes place October 3 to 13, 2013. One of two Canadian entries, Borealis is an 84-square-metre home that is net-zero, which means it produces as much electricity as is consumed.

"When we bring together the resources and talent of our Campus Alberta partners, we know we can compete with the best," said Thomas Lukaszuk, Deputy Premier and Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education. "Our government is pleased to support Team Alberta. The Borealis home is a great example of made-in-Alberta solutions gaining international attention thanks to the ongoing collaboration between our province's post-secondary institutions, research and innovation system and industry."

Borealis is equipped with solar photovoltaic panels, solar thermal tubes, sun tunnel skylights, an intelligent mechanical system and LED lighting. An energy recovery system stores excess energy to be used for dehumidification and heating. There is also a "living wall" that detoxifies the air. The home features private living areas for two people with a shared kitchen and bathroom. Because the structure consists of prefabricated modules, it is portable and easily transported.

"Borealis is a prefabricated, modular home that tackles the challenge of sustainable living in remote environments," explained Alexandre Ste-Marie, Team Alberta project manager. "We designed Borealis to be flexible and accommodate the specific needs of the target market while operating in a challenging natural environment. The house is sleek and aesthetically appealing while striking a balance between simplicity, practicality and functionality."

Team Alberta is comprised of more than 100 students from a variety of disciplines at the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University. In June, the multi-institutional partnership was celebrated with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the two provosts, Manuel Mertin from Mount Royal University and Dru Marshall from the University of Calgary.

"This project epitomizes what post-secondary education should be," said David Docherty, president of Mount Royal University. "Borealis captures the imagination of students, engages them theoretically and practically and helps students develop specific and transferable skills. It's an experience they will remember and talk about for years to come. For our two universities, this allows us to closely collaborate on a significant project and demonstrate the strengths of both institutions."

Dru Marshall, University of Calgary provost and vice-president (academic) added: "We are very excited to be participating in the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition with our colleagues from Mount Royal University. This is a fantastic student-led and administrator-supported project that is interdisciplinary in focus. It integrates learning and research around key societal issues while providing students with applied learning and leadership opportunities. We wish the team all the best in the upcoming competition in Irvine."

The project received support from a number of sponsors as well as government. Natural Resources Canada's CanmetENERGY contributed $12,500 and the Province of Alberta contributed $200,000.

During the Solar Decathlon competition, teams will be judged in ten different categories: architecture, market appeal, engineering, communications, affordability, comfort, hot water, appliances, home entertainment and energy balance.

Team Alberta will compete against Team Ontario (comprised of students from Queen's University, Carleton University, and Algonquin College), 16 teams from the United States, one from the Czech Republic and one from Austria.

For more information about Borealis and Team Alberta, visit

About Team Alberta

Team Alberta is a multi-institutional partnership between the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University. Borealis, named after Canada's iconic Northern Lights and Boreal Forest, is Team Alberta's third entry into the Solar Decathlon competition since the program's inception in 2009.

About Solar Decathlon 2013

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate energy-efficient houses powered by the sun. Each team spends almost two years designing and constructing a house which will compete in 10 contests. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

About the University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is a leading Canadian university located in the nation's most enterprising city. The university has a clear strategic direction to become one of Canada's top five research universities by 2016, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.'

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Mount Royal University

Mount Royal is Canada's premier undergraduate university. It has been preparing students for success in all areas of work, studies and life since first opening its doors in 1911. Today, it serves more than 13,500 full- and part-time credit students each year, offering more than 50 degree, applied degree, diploma and certificate programs in arts, business, communications, health and community studies, continuing education, science and technology, and teaching and learning.

Contact Information

  • University of Calgary
    Jennifer Sowa
    Media Relations Officer, Schulich School of Engineering
    Cell: 403.993.8679

    Mount Royal University
    Paula Arab
    Media Relations Officer
    Cell: 403.889.9128