University of Calgary

University of Calgary

September 23, 2011 09:50 ET

University of Calgary: Let the games begin!

Canada's Solar Decathlon team starts jury presentations

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Sept. 23, 2011) - The Cenovus TRTL solar home sits fully constructed at '301 Decathlete Way'. Energy-efficient appliances are installed and functioning, Aboriginal cultural artifacts line the shelves, and the team has shown countless media crews and VIPs through the space. By the time the public can finally visit the house this morning, the team will already have partially completed four out of the Solar Decathlon's five juried contests.

"I feel good, a little nervous," said Frank Jansen, a graduate student at the Schulich School of Engineering and an engineering team member on the project. He and project manager Kim Gould present to the engineering jury this morning. "We have good systems in place and good reasons for doing what we did," said Jansen. "We looked at many ways of approaching net zero and, especially in our climate, we had to use appropriate technology to ensure a high-energy output."

Yesterday afternoon, Gould and engineering lead Adam Cripps (a current undergraduate engineering student at the University of Calgary), presented the affordability component of the competition to the jury. "I think it went well; we got positive feedback," said Gould. "We met the 30-minute time limit, paced ourselves, and were well prepared." Results from the affordability contest will be announced on Tuesday, Sept 27.

Additional juried evaluations taking place today include architecture, communications, and market appeal.

The team is still fine-tuning the home's systems for the 'comfort zone' contest, measured throughout the whole competition. Points are awarded for hot water, entertainment, appliances, and energy balance for a total of 1000 points (maximum 100 points per contest). Follow Canada's score updates at:

In the midst of the competition this morning, the team will enjoy a special visit from Canada's Ambassador to the U.S. Gary Doer. Prior to taking up his current position in Washington, Ambassador Doer served as Premier of Manitoba for ten years, during which time he worked to enhance Canada-U.S. cooperation on climate change and renewable energy.

Later this afternoon, the team will host a public event titled 'The Story of TRTL and Spo' Pi' at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) at the Smithsonian. Dr. Reg Crowshoe, the team's spiritual-cultural advisor and former chief of the Piikani Nation, and Monique Kimber of the Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative, will share the story of the TRTL house with a particular focus on the cultural significance of the home.

"It's about sharing our story," said Kimber. "I hope people are excited to learn something new and to see how cultural elements differ between Native Americans and Native Canadians." On Saturday evening, the team will host an invitation-only reception at the NMAI, where world-champion hoop dancer Dallas Arcand of the Alexander (Kipohtakaw) Cree Nation will perform.

Over the weekend, the team will lead public tours, while preparing to host a movie night and two themed dinners – one Aboriginal menu and one 'Canadian contemporary' – in the home next week.

Highlights from Thursday, September 22, 2011

  • The competition kicked off with a ribbon-cutting, a Solar Decathlon 2011 group photo, and opening ceremony. Richard King, Executive Director of the Solar Decathlon, announced that this is the first year that all homes were constructed by the opening ceremony.
  • Right after the opening ceremony, University of Calgary team members led the U.S. Department of Energy film crew on a video walk-though of the Cenovus TRTL home.
  • Following the affordability jury, the house was open for media interviews and VIP tours. Decathletes from Canada's team enjoyed talking with executives from Lowes and Borsch (sponsors for the whole Solar Decathlon) and had their first taste of touring visitors through their home. The house will now be open to the public weekdays from 10 am to 2 pm and on weekends from 10 am to 5 pm until the competition ends on October 1.
  • For more information about the U.S. Department of Energy's 2011 Solar Decathlon and directions to West Potomac Park, visit:

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), 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