University of Calgary

University of Calgary

September 30, 2011 11:08 ET

University of Calgary: Canada's solar house addresses real needs

Team seeks Top 10 finish entering final days of Solar Decathlon competition

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - Sept. 30, 2011) -

Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this Press Release.

As the final results announcement looms closer, Canada's Solar Decathlon team is hoping for a Top 10 finish and reflecting on the true value of what they have built – a practical, energy-efficient, appealing dwelling that addresses serious needs within Canada's Aboriginal communities.

For University of Calgary student Chris Fry, the Cenovus TRTL home brings together two important areas of his research: culture and the environment. A student in the interdisciplinary Master of Science in Sustainable Energy Development program and member of the Kwanlin Dün First Nations (Whitehorse, Yukon), Fry believes his program and the solar home project reflect a new appreciation of traditional knowledge for contemporary sustainable applications.

Fry first got involved with the project as co-chair of the cultural advisory group, consulting on aspects of partnering with First Nations communities and bringing together community members to provide culturally relevant input to the home design. He ultimately found himself helping with construction, cooking a First Nations-themed feast in Washington, and leading public tours of the home at the Solar Decathlon.

"We wanted to share Canadian First Nations culture internationally and we did that," he said. "We created an efficient home that is affordable and raises awareness of effectiveness of renewable energy. We definitely achieved our objectives." As of Wednesday, the team's message had reached 12,525 visitors to the home – the highest volume of any house on the Mall.

Jim Campbell, VP Government Relations from Cenovus Energy and MBA graduate ('92) from the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, was one of those visitors to the site this week. Earlier this year, Cenovus announced a $600,000 donation to the project, becoming its title sponsor.

"We are looking at new technologies and new ideas in innovation and sustainability," said Vicki Reid, Manager of Community Affairs at Cenovus, who joined Campbell to support the team. "We're thinking long-term about sustainability and health of the province so we can do good business," she said.

The sponsorship involved more than just 'chequebook philanthropy', added Reid, explaining that the Cenovus team visited the construction site in Calgary regularly and was involved throughout the process. "We really feel like we're part of the team."

Results from the communications jury will be announced at 2:30 pm today, and results from the market appeal category come tomorrow as part of the final results announcement. The house will be open for tours from 10 am to 2 pm Friday and 10 am to 5:30 pm on the weekend.

Please vote Canada's TRTL home for People's Choice Award until 5 pm MST today: http://www.solardecathlon.gov/poll/pca/pca_register.php. The award will be announced tomorrow at a special event for all Solar Decathlon competitors.

Thursday recap

The Canadian team placed 10th in the engineering competition, and currently sits in 11th place overall. On Thursday evening, Canada's Solar Decathlon team enjoyed a special reception at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC hosted by Minister Kevin O'Shea.

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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