University of Calgary

Bless this house

UToday HomeJuly 17, 2012

By Jennifer Sowa

A special Indigenous groundbreaking ceremony that included a ceremonial address and special blessing from a spiritual leader of the Piikuni First Nation, Reg Crowshoe, marked the beginning of a new chapter for the University of Calgary’s Cenovus TRTL/Spo’pi solar house.

The groundbreaking and validation ceremony held at the Schulich School of Engineering July 13 celebrated the home’s reconstruction and installation as a permanent research facility on campus.

The Cenovus TRTL (Technological Residence Traditional Living) is a student-built, net-zero house that features the latest in solar power technology. It was the only Canadian entry in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathlon competition in Washington, D.C., and it placed 10th out of 19 entries.

The design is intended to help meet housing needs in First Nations communities, and consultation with the Treaty 7 people was key during the conception and design. Student representatives Kim Gould and Chris Fry opened the ceremony and welcomed the guests, which included members of the Aboriginal Advisory Committee and the Treaty 7 region.

“Accommodating another culture’s values and principles in a project like Spo’pi allows us as First Nations to put value into our homes,” said Reg Crowshoe, spiritual and cultural advisor for the Piikuni First Nation. “I’m honoured to use our cultural practices to validate the home that’s going to be on this site.”

Located on the south side of the CCIT building, the house will serve as a hub for solar energy and sustainability research for many students and faculty members, including David Wood, Enmax-NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Renewable Energy.

“This is a multi-disciplinary project where students from different fields get to work together,” said Dru Marshall, provost and vice-president (academic). “The students did an exceptional job of managing a process with a real cultural perspective.”

“The Cenovus TRTL Spo’pi solar house will provide another means for the University of Calgary to contribute to the community through research, teaching and service,” said Guy Gendron, dean of the Schulich School of Engineering. “I would like to thank Cenovus for the generous donation that has made this possible.”

The house, which will be reassembled over the summer and tied into the campus utilities grid, will be celebrated with an opening ceremony in September.