University of Calgary

Team Alberta completes Borealis solar house, offers public tours

UToday HomeAugust 14, 2013

The design of the Borealis will be judged against homes from Team Ontario, United States, the Czech Republic and Austria.The design of the Borealis will be judged against homes from Team Ontario, United States, the Czech Republic and Austria.Students from the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University are celebrating the completion of their solar house, Borealis, with a public event today and open houses this weekend marking the latest milestone in the journey of the home from Calgary to an international design competition in California.

One of two Canadian entries in the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition, Borealis is an 84-square-metre home that is net-zero, which means it produces as much electricity as it consumes.

The public is invited to view the design at open houses from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17 and Sunday, Aug. 18. Shortly afterwards, students will disassemble the structure and travel to Irvine, Calif., for the competition from Oct. 3 to 13.

“When we bring together the resources and talent of our Campus Alberta partners, we know we can compete with the best,” says Thomas Lukaszuk, deputy premier and ,inister of Enterprise and Advanced Education.

“Our government is pleased to support Team Alberta," says Lukaszuk. "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,” explains 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 two universities. In June, the multi-institutional partnership was celebrated with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the two provosts, Dru Marshall from the University of Calgary and Manuel Mertin from Mount Royal University.

“We are very excited to be participating in the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition with our colleagues from Mount Royal University,” says Dru Marshall. “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.”

David Docherty, president of Mount Royal University, says the project epitomizes what post-secondary education should be. “Borealis captures the imagination of students, engages them theoretically and practically and helps students develop specific and transferable skills,” Docherty says.

“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.”

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 10 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.

Read more about Borealis and Team Alberta. Borealis, named after Canada’s iconic Northern Lights and Boreal Forest, is Team Alberta’s third entry in the Solar Decathlon since the program’s inception in 2009. 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.

The Borealis construction site is across from the Alberta Children's Hospital, at the corner of West Campus Drive and Collegiate Road N.W.


Follow UToday on Twitter.
Check the UToday website for news about events, people and trends at University of Calgary.
Follow what’s happening on campus using our interactive calendar.