University of Calgary

Catching a few rays

UToday HomeJanuary 14, 2013

By Loraine Fowlow

North view of Borealis. Rendering courtesy of Riddell Kurczaba ArchitectsNorth view of Borealis. Rendering courtesy of Riddell Kurczaba ArchitectsEighteen students from the University of Calgary, Mount Royal University and SAIT Polytechnic headed to Irvine, California recently to take part in the Solar Decathlon all-team workshop. The students will represent Team Alberta in the competition, which takes place from Oct. 3-13, 2013.

The team toured the competition site and met with organizers to discuss the Team Alberta design and construction planning in detail. The workshop was intended to help teams competing in the decathlon prepare for completing their construction documentation and get organized for the competition. The workshop covered topics as varied as building code, site operations, media relations and affordability. The workshop was also an opportunity for Team Alberta to meet the other nineteen teams invited to compete from the U.S., Czech Republic, Austria and Canada.

The U.S. Department of Energy hosts the biennial Solar Decathlon competition that challenges 20 international student teams to design, build and operate solar‐powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. The winning teams are able to demonstrate the viability of solar power in today’s residential market according to a panel of industry experts. This year the competition will be held in Orange County Great Park in Irvine. It will be the University of Calgary’s third invitation to compete.

In 2011, the University of Calgary was the only Canadian team in the competition. 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.

This year, Team Alberta’s design is called Borealis, and provides a sustainable, modular prefabricated housing solution for professional, remote worker populations.

Over the last year, the team has been busy completing the design and construction documentation. With the help of Chancellor Jim Dinning, the team has raised almost half of the $900,000 total project budget. Now nearing the end of the planning stage, the team is pushing to raise the final funds or equivalent gifts-in-kind that will enable construction to begin in April.

For information about sponsorship opportunities for Borealis, contact Oliver Davidson at