University of Calgary

Solar Decathlon’s TRTL

December 17, 2010

Blessing for Solar Decathlon’s TRTL

By Johann Kyser and Grady Semmens

Chief Reggie Crowshoe and the Piikani Nation gave the U of C’s entry to next year’s Solar Decathlon competition their blessing in a special ceremony on Wednesday. Photo credit: Riley BrandtChief Reggie Crowshoe and the Piikani Nation gave the U of C’s entry to next year’s Solar Decathlon competition their blessing in a special ceremony on Wednesday. Photo credit: Riley BrandtThe University of Calgary’s entry to next year’s Solar Decathlon competition received the blessing of the Piikani Nation on Wednesday, in a special ceremony in the Faculty of Environmental Design’s Kasian Gallery. The team was honoured to host Chief Reggie Crowshoe for the ceremony that marked an important step forward for the future of the project.

“It is important for us to validate this project in our own way because housing is one of the biggest problems when it comes to social issues for First Nations,” says Chief Crowshoe. “We look forward to working with the team and wish them good luck in the competition.”

The U of C is the only Canadian competitor in the Solar Decathlon 2011, with students coming from the Faculty of Environmental Design, Schulich School of Engineering, and Haskayne School of Business.

“This is a remarkable group of students committed to actually realizing, not merely imagining, their dreams for a sustainable future,” says Nancy Pollock-Ellwand, dean of the environmental design faculty.

The biennial competition is hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy, and challenges 20 international student teams to design, build and operate solar powered homes. Its mandate is to demonstrate the viability of solar power in today’s marketplace.

Team Canada first learned of its admission early in 2010, based on a proposal specific to First Nations housing in Alberta. Since then, the team has completed approximately 80 percent of the design, and expects to begin construction early in 2011. The collaborative process continues to provide a unique opportunity for cross-cultural and experiential learning.

The home’s official English name, TRTL, is pronounced “turtle”, the name stands for Technological Residence, Traditional Living. Photo credit: Riley BrandtThe home’s official English name, TRTL, is pronounced “turtle”, the name stands for Technological Residence, Traditional Living. Photo credit: Riley BrandtAs part of the ceremony, Chief Crowshoe validated the project and the home’s official English name, “TRTL”, from a First Nation’s worldview. Pronounced “turtle”, the name stands for Technological Residence, Traditional Living and will be known to the Blackfoot community at Spo’pi, the Blackfoot word for turtle.

“We are very grateful for the opportunity to work with individuals and organizations from First Nations communities, as well as vital industry and government partners,” says the team’s Aboriginal relations manager Johann Kyser. “Ideally the project will help to raise awareness of and explore solutions to key issues in First Nations housing, alternative energy, and green building.”

The TRTL design includes specific consideration for the context of Alberta's First Nations communities. The 1000-square-foot home is intended for a young family, with two bedrooms and a large, flexible social space centered around cooking and eating. The home's photovoltaic array will result in an annual net-zero energy balance to alleviate rising energy costs in remote communities. Building materials are extremely durable, and highly resistant to mold and fire. The prototype home will also feature interior and exterior reference to traditions and values of the Treaty 7 Nations.

Other Solar Decathlon 2011 competitors include China, Belgium, New Zealand, and numerous American institutions. Teams will not only design and build a solar powered home, but also send it to Washington D.C., to be displayed on the National Mall by the teams. Successful entrants will demonstrate competitive advantage as judged by industry experts in 10 categories, including architecture, engineering, market appeal, affordability, and energy balance.

For more information on Team Canada and the TRTL project, visit: www.solardecathlon.ca


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