University of Calgary

Solar Decathlon

April 19, 2010

U of C students in 2011 solar home competition

Calgary team represents Canada in designing a net-zero First Nations home

A group of University of Calgary students will form the only Canadian team in the prestigious 2011 Solar Decathlon competition, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy and the national Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The team has designed a solar-powered home specifically for the First Nations communities of Southern Alberta. The house features a distinct Aboriginal style and will produce at least as much energy than it consumes, making it ‘net-zero’. The design also targets chronic health and durability issues and has been a highly collaborative process between students, First Nations and industry.

“I am pleased to see the traditional aspect relating to shelter being emphasized within the Solar Decathlon submission,” says Charlie Weasel Head, Grand Chief of Treaty 7, “As First Nations we have always held close to our heart the environment and the responsibilities we have as people to sustain the land for future generations.”

Teams from around the world must undergo a rigorous application process to qualify for this biennial event. Of the more than 40 teams who applied, only 20 were chosen. The U of C entry is the only Canadian team to qualify and will compete against teams representing schools from China, Belgium, New Zealand and numerous U.S. states.

“We are thrilled to represent Canada on the world stage,” says Johann Kyser, project manager for the Calgary-based team, “This project is about a disadvantaged population. It is also about the innovation we see in clean technology and green building. There is enormous potential in the overlap between the two.”

The Solar Decathlon will take place in Washington, D.C. in October 2011. There are ten categories for scoring, including architecture, engineering, affordability, and market appeal.

This is the second time a team from Alberta will compete in the Solar Decathlon. In 2009, students from the University of Calgary, SAIT polytechnic, Mount Royal University, and Alberta College of Art + Design joined forces for an impressive sixth place finish, besting numerous returning competitors.

The U of C team will take advantage of the multidisciplinary culture on campus to attract the best and brightest minds, including those within the Faculty of Environmental Design (EVDS), the Schulich School of Engineering, and the Haskayne School of Business.

“This competition is an amazing opportunity for our students,” says Loraine Fowlow, U of C professor of architecture and the team’s faculty advisor. “Having seen the results of the 2009 competition, I know how valuable an experience this will be for the team, as well as for the University.”

For more information on Team U of C’s project, visit: For more details on the Solar Decathlon competition and other finalists for 2011, visit:


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