University of Calgary

U.S. Ambassador tours Canada’s only entry in solar house competition

Submitted by darmstro on Wed, 2011-07-06 11:11.

July 6, 2011

For those not covering the royal tour, there’s another important visit to Calgary happening on July 7.  U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson will be on the University of Calgary campus to meet with the only Canadian team competing in the biennial Solar Decathlon challenge, which is hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The competition challenges 20 international student-led teams to design, build, and operate the most attractive, efficient and affordable solar-powered house. The Canadian team is currently bringing their design to life on campus, and the Ambassador will be touring the construction site, meeting with students involved in the project.

The 1000 square-foot house is a safe, durable net-zero solar powered home that addresses critical issues in Aboriginal housing, designed in collaboration with the Treaty 7 First Nations of Southern Alberta.  Sponsored by Cenovus Energy, the TRTL (pronounced ‘turtle’) – Technological Residence, Traditional Living – has been blessed by the former Chief of the Piikani Nation Reg Crowshoe. The project was given the Blackfoot name Spo’pi, which means ‘turtle’ and translates directly into ‘lives on stilts’.

The house will ultimately be disassembled and shipped to the National Mall in Washington D.C. for display during the competition (Sept.  23 to Oct. 2, 2011).

Date: Thursday, July 7, 2011
Time: 2 – 3 p.m.
Place: University of Calgary campus, Solar Decathlon house construction site.
Activity: Ambassador Jacobson, accompanied by the U.S. Consul General in Calgary,  Laura Lochman, will tour the construction site and discuss the project with members of the team.
Attendees:  Solar Decathlon students, university deans and academics, representatives from Cenovus Energy, project spiritual/cultural advisor Reg Crowshoe.
Photo opps:    Ambassador with the Cenovus TRTL and students on active construction site.
Dress: Suitable for construction site. No open-toed shoes. Hard hats and safety vests will  be provided as required.
Directions and parking: From downtown Calgary, take Crowchild Trail NW and exit left onto 24th Ave NW. Follow 24th Ave NW and turn right onto West Campus Dr., just in front of the colourful Alberta Children’s Hospital. Turn right @ lights (no street name – directly opposite Children's Hospital entrance). You are now behind the new Child Development Centre.  Turn left @ first small dirt road and follow the arrows.  Stay to the left, following the (bumpy) dirt road until you can't go any further (you will pass through an area of ATCO trailers). Park along the dirt road, off to the side.

For more information about the Solar Decathlon project and to view a model of what the house looks like, visit

For media inquiries contact:
Kim Lawrence
Director, Communications & Marketing, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary
Phone: 403-220-3375 Cell: 403-970-5146