University of Calgary

New solar home design

June 26, 2008

Student-led team unveils new solar home design,
more sponsors and new school partner

A Calgary student-led team working to build a solar home for a high-profile international competition has attracted more than $150,000 in new support from Alberta’s energy industry and other partners in the community.

The Alberta Solar Decathlon Team announced six new sponsors today, along with another Calgary post-secondary school that is joining the original three schools collaborating on the unique project. Joining the University of Calgary, SAIT Polytechnic and Mount Royal College is the Alberta College of Art + Design.

The Alberta team is the first all western-Canadian team chosen to compete in the Solar Decathlon, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The team, which also unveiled its final ‘competition’ design for its solar-powered home, will compete with homes built by 19 other university and college teams selected from around the world in the 2009 Solar Decathlon, held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

“Albertans are leaders in energy innovation and we’re going to show the world that we can compete with the best when it comes to renewables,” says project manager Matt Beck, a graduate student in the U of C’s Faculty of Environmental Design. “Our refined design is the product of many months of hard work by our dedicated team members. We are right on track to build our home this fall.”

The six new sponsors of the Alberta Solar Decathlon Project are: EnCana Corporation, Emercor Ltd., ConocoPhillips Canada, the City of Calgary, the Canadian Design Research Network and Nysan Solar Control. Their sponsorship makes a total of more than $300,000 in support for the solar home project, including $100,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy. The project has a budget of approximately $970,000.

EnCana, ConocoPhillips Canada, the City of Calgary and the design research network each provided cash contributions. Calgary companies Emercor and Nysan will provide, respectively, all the structural panels for the solar home and all the shading systems for windows and other glazing.

“The Alberta team very much appreciates this support from our partners in the community,” says project chair Mark Blackwell, an undergraduate student in the U of C’s Haskayne School of Business. “With their support, we’re nearly one-third of the way to meeting our budget. So now is the time for other companies, government and other sectors to step up to ensure we get our home built.”

The Alberta Solar Decathlon Team also announced a highly visible Calgary construction site for the solar home. SAIT Polytechnic has donated a parking lot on its main campus where a large construction shelter in which the home will be built will be visible from both the TransCanada Highway and 14th Street N.W.

The team has hired a full-time construction manager, and construction is scheduled to start in September – led by trades apprenticeship students at SAIT joined by students from the other schools.

The team’s new, sleeker, more energy-efficient design retains the western Canadian wooden post-and-beam structure of the initial design, while improving solar-heating efficiency. There’s also an expanded south-facing deck and a rooftop patio accessible from a stowaway staircase inside the home. The exterior features reclaimed barn wood that forms a ‘banded’ pattern, echoed inside the home through a solar-heated hot water system integrated into a glazing unit.

Media contacts:

Mark Lowey
Communications Director
Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy
Phone: (403) 210-8659
Cell: (403) 990-6986

Heidi Sparks
Public Relations Specialist, Corporate Communications
SAIT Polytechnic
Phone: (403) 284-8473
Cell: (403) 512-3291

Dan McGarvey
Media Relations Officer
Office of External Relations
Mount Royal College
Phone: (403) 440-5195
Cell: (403) 827-2694