University of Calgary

University of Calgary

October 03, 2011 09:59 ET

University of Calgary: Calgary team finishes in Top 10 at Solar Decathlon

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Oct. 3, 2011) - Two years ago, a multidisciplinary team of University of Calgary students interested in sustainable energy technologies submitted a proposal for the 2011 Solar Decathlon with a vision of creating a culturally relevant, net-zero home that addressed housing needs in First Nations communities. When the team finally relaxed in the Cenovus TRTL home last night on the National Mall, their dream had become reality.

The team placed tenth overall in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon, which challenges student teams to design, build, and operate an energy-efficient, livable, and affordable home. The results were announced in a final awards ceremony on Saturday afternoon.

"This is the type of experiential learning that helps students build on their academic experience and develop great leadership," said university president Elizabeth Cannon via phone after the results were announced. "We are extremely proud and we look forward to welcoming the team back to campus."

With six of the nine days of the competition rainy and overcast, the home's energy-production systems were put to the test. The home's internal temperature was closely monitored over the entire competition and each day, the team was required to operate their appliances and pull hot water. They were also assessed in juried contests such as engineering, architecture, and market appeal.

"This is a highly demanding competition," noted Loraine Fowlow, the team's faculty advisor. "It takes determination and guts to do this; these students are unbelievable." In addition to completing competition requirements, the students had to balance their academics, often completing coursework, studying, even attending class via Skype during their time off.

While the team didn't place as well as they hoped overall, media interest and overwhelming public support onsite demonstrate the appeal of the home's design as well as the impact of the project's educational outreach. The jury was particularly impressed with the extensive research and collaboration that contributed to the TRTL design, their report reading, "the attention to cultural and spiritual sensitivity exhibited in this home help to ensure its comfort and livability. The space serves not only the individual occupants but also lifts the community."

"We came down here with a greater vision than winning," said Johann Kyser, aboriginal relations manager for the team and an Environmental Design student at the University of Calgary. "We wanted something with a life beyond the competition that would raise awareness. In that sense, we've been extremely successful."

Following disassembly, it will return to the University of Calgary campus.

Overall results for Canada's team – the Cenovus TRTL – at the 2011 Solar Decathlon are available at:

Competition Score (out of 100) Place
Architecture 80 17th (tie)
Market appeal 87 9th
Engineering 83 10th
Communications 81 8th
Affordability 96.395 7th
Comfort zone 61.347 18th
Hot water 99.5 2nd
Appliances 95.599 7th
Home entertainment 97.569 4th
Energy Balance 56.013 5th
TOTAL (out of 1000) 836.423 10th

About the 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 in Canada), 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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Contact Information

  • University of Calgary
    Washington, DC: Julie Phillips
    Communications Coordinator
    Cell: 403.680.1054

    University of Calgary
    Calgary: Grady Semmens
    University Relations
    403.220.7722 or Cell: 403.651.2515