University of Calgary

New solar home to address Fort McMurray housing needs

UToday HomeJanuary 27, 2012

Solar Decathlon Design MockupA student-led team from the University of Calgary is going to the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon for the third consecutive year—they will compete with this unique housing concept. Photo courtesy of Solar Decathlon TeamA student-led team from the University of Calgary has been chosen to take part in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon for the third consecutive time, pitting its unique housing concept against another Canadian team and entries from across the United States and around the world.

“It truly is a remarkable achievement for the University of Calgary to be able to compete for the third time in the Solar Decathlon. It really proves that Alberta is at the forefront of renewable energy development,” said Alexandre Ste-Marie, University of Calgary business student and Team Alberta member who took part in last year’s competition in Washington. D.C.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday the 20 collegiate teams selected to compete in the biannual competition to design, build and operate a highly efficient and sustainable house. Teams are required to compete in ten different categories—ranging from best architecture and engineering to energy production for heating and cooling—while gaining valuable real-world experience in a growing global industry. Next year’s contest will take place in Irvine, California, in the first Solar Decathlon held outside of Washington D.C. Teams will assemble and operate their homes while on public display at Orange Country Great Park. A second Canadian team from Queen’s University/Carleton University/Algonquin College was also selected to take part.

Team Alberta’s concept is based on addressing the housing needs that are so pressing in remote communities and industrial camps such as those in the Fort McMurray region. The team intends to produce a modular home that is easy to transport and assemble and is affordable for working families, as well as for remote working populations.

Under the umbrella of Team Alberta, the project is expected to draw expertise from institutions across the province and to foster a greater sense of inter-institutional and inter-faculty collaboration.

“The Solar Decathlon competition provides an incredible opportunity for students from all disciplines and backgrounds to work together on a complex project that pushes the envelope in terms of showcasing the possibilities of sustainable construction and design,” said University of Calgary Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Dru Marshall. “This is exactly the kind of student-led project the University of Calgary values as a leading teaching and research and teaching institution in Canada’s energy capital.”

The University of Calgary fielded the only Canadian team to take part in the 2011 Solar Decathlon last September on the National Mall in Washington D.C. The team’s unique Cenovus TRTL home was designed to reflect the cultural values and housing issues faced by Treaty 7 First Nations communities in Canada. The house placed 10th out of 19 entries and had the highest number of public visitors during the week-long competition.

University of Calgary students also took part in the Solar Decathlon in 2009 along with colleagues from SAIT Polytechnic, Mount Royal University and Alberta College of Art and Design. Their ENMAX SolAbode home finished sixth out of 20 that year.