University of Calgary

Solar Decathlon

October 16, 2009

Solar home team finishes sixth

President Harvey Weingarten toured the home this week.
President Harvey Weingarten toured the home this week.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Student-led Team Alberta finished sixth overall today in the U.S. Department of Energy's high-profile Solar Decathlon competition, besting 14 top university teams chosen from around the world to design, build and operate a solar home on the National Mall.

The announcement of the Solar Decathlon winners capped a two-year, $1.3-million collaborative project by students, faculty and staff at four Calgary schools—University of Calgary, SAIT Polytechnic, Mount Royal University and the Alberta College of Art + Design. Together, they created their ENMAX SolAbode and successfully operated the solar-powered home in the U.S. capital during the 10-day competition.

Team Alberta is the first all-western Canadian team to compete in the prestigious competition.

“This finish is something that we never really dreamed about. It's better than we ever could have expected,” says Mark Blackwell, chair of the Alberta Solar Decathlon project and a University of Calgary business student.

"It's great to finish where we did in sixth place," says project manager Matt Beck, a U of C environmental design graduate student. “It really shows that we have a lot of ingenuity in Alberta. The partnership among our four schools was very strong and brought a lot to the table.”

U of C President Harvey Weingarten has been in Washington with the team this week. “For a first-time entry, a sixth place overall finish is very impressive. We are incredibly proud of our entire team and their mentors. I congratulate them all," he said.

"We recognize the huge effort that goes into a project like this. Our standing in this highly competitive, international competition speaks volumes about the capacity and talents of our students. The students' comments about how the Solar Decathlon contributed to their post-secondary education speak volumes to how important experiential education and out-of-classroom projects like this are in a contemporary and relevant undergraduate education."

Team Germany, which won the 2007 Solar Decathlon, finished on top again this year, racking up contest points by generating surplus power to feed into the electricity grid from its state-of-the-art solar panels that completely covered the team's house. Team Illinois captured second place, while Team California finished third.

Team Ontario/B.C. (University of Waterloo, Ryerson and Simon Fraser), the only other Canadian entry, finished fourth.

Team Alberta beat some big-name U.S. universities, including Cornell, Rice, Kentucky, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and others, as well as teams from Spain and Puerto Rico.

After public tours of the homes in the National Mall's solar village end Sunday night, Team Alberta will start disassembling its 800-square-foot SolAbode for transport to Vancouver, where it will be displayed during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in February. After that, the home is currently scheduled to be returned to Calgary and its owner, title sponsor ENMAX.

For more on Team Alberta, visit: For the complete scoring in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, visit:

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