University of Calgary

University of Calgary

September 20, 2011 10:00 ET

University of Calgary students represent Canada at international solar home competition

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Sept. 20, 2011) - Imagine designing and constructing a functional solar-powered home in Calgary, AB only to tear it down into five modules, transport it on trucks across the border, and reassemble it in less than a week on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. as part of a unique, global 'solar village'. That's what life has been for the interdisciplinary group of University of Calgary students who are representing Canada in this year's U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition.

"It's been hot and exhausting but things are going well so far", said Stuart Wershof, a Master of Environmental Design student and the team's transportation and logistics coordinator, from the re-construction site in the U.S. capital.

For the past week, team members from Canada's entry – the Cenovus TRTL (pronounced 'turtle', which stands for 'Technological Residence, Traditional Living') – have worked onsite around the clock to ensure that the home is constructed on time. Even with 24-hour activity and limited sleep, the team has been diligent in following all rules and guidelines, particularly surrounding site safety. The team was even one of five teams singled out by the Solar Decathlon safety officer at a daily team meeting last week for their excellent safety practices.

"There may be a great deal of pressure in the atmosphere onsite, but that's no reason to rush through tasks unsafely," said Kim Gould, construction manager and a recent graduate from the Schulich School of Engineering. "We're a team and we're going to get through this together, then show the competition what we're made of."

Nineteen teams, including Canada's entry and teams from Belgium, China, New Zealand as well as fifteen teams from colleges and universities in the United States, will compete in ten contests as part of the decathlon from Sept. 21 to Oct. 1, 2011. The contests, including architecture, market appeal, engineering, and communications, are designed to determine which entry is the most attractive, affordable, and easy to live in. Teams earn points from completing household tasks in their homes such as cooking and laundry, successfully achieving monitored goals such as maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature, and through juried evaluations with industry experts. As well, each team must host a movie night and two dinner parties in their homes. For the complete Solar Decathlon event schedule, visit

The site is open to the public from 10 am to 2 pm on weekdays and from 10 am to 5:30 pm on weekends from Sept. 23 to Oct. 2. All Canadians and University of Calgary alumni in the D.C. area are invited to visit the competition site at the National Mall's West Potomac Park.

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About the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

The 2011 Solar Decathlon, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, challenges student teams from around the world to design, construct and operate energy-efficient solar-powered homes. The University of Calgary student-led Cenovus TRTL (pronounced 'turtle') is Canada's only entry into this year's competition. TRTL, which stands for "Technological Residence, Traditional Living", addresses critical issues in Aboriginal housing in Canada and was designed in collaboration with the Treaty 7 First Nations of Southern Alberta. On June 21, 2011 (National Aboriginal Day), Cenovus Energy joined as title sponsor, announcing their donation of $600,000 to Canada's team.

The University of Calgary is a comprehensive research university, ranked one of Canada's top eight research universities and a member of the 15 most research intensive universities in Canada (the U15), combining the best of long-established university traditions with the city of Calgary's vibrant energy and diversity. This is the University of Calgary's second entry into the Solar Decathlon. In 2009, Team Alberta's SolAbode – a combined effort between ACAD, SAIT Mount Royal University, and the University of Calgary – placed 6th out of 20 teams.

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