University of Calgary

Team Alberta breaks ground on student-built solar house

Submitted by darmstro on Fri, 2013-06-14 14:02.

University of Calgary and Mount Royal University form partnership for 2013 Solar Decathlon competition

June 14, 2013

Today students from the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University celebrated the start of construction of their solar house, Borealis. The two institutions also marked the partnership of the Team Alberta Solar Decathlon project with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the two provosts, Dru Marshall and Manuel Mertin. Guests at the event included Jim Dinning, chancellor of the University of Calgary, along with sponsors and supporters of Team Alberta.

Borealis will be Team Alberta’s third entry in the prestigious international Solar Decathlon competition this October in Irvine, Calif. The 84-square-metre home is intended to facilitate sustainable living in remote areas. Borealis will be net- zero, meaning it will produce as much electricity as is consumed.

Team Alberta is comprised of more than 100 students from a variety of disciplines at the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University. “The Solar Decathlon is an excellent experiential learning project and an outstanding example of post-secondary collaboration in Alberta,” says Dru Marshall, University of Calgary provost and vice-president (academic). “The project team has been meeting for over a year and includes collaboration at all levels of the academy – from students right through to the provosts. Exciting student-led and administrator-enabled projects like this one provide valuable opportunities for students and the community in general to examine sustainability and to discover the potential of renewable energy such as solar power.”

“The challenges of powering a house by solar energy, which is not always readily available or easily stored, are enormous,” adds Manuel Mertin, Mount Royal University acting provost and vice-president (academic). “It requires a house to be energy efficient in all aspects of design and construction. Moreover, unlike many other participants, Team Alberta’s entry has to function in a northern climate and perform in California, where the emphasis is on cooling.”

"Solar Decathlon is unlike any other project I've been involved with in school," says Ellysa Evans, Interior Design Co-Lead and student at Mount Royal University. "It’s inspirational working with so many curious and passionate students and now finally seeing our creation start to take shape.” Borealis is currently in the framing stage and construction is expected to be complete by the end of the summer. The team plans to make the home available for public exhibition before disassembling it and moving the structure to California for the competition. For more information, visit