University of Calgary

Solar Decathlon Team wins Emerald Award


The Cenovus TRTL on display last year at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of the University of Calgary Solar Decathlon team

The University of Calgary’s student-designed net-zero home aimed at addressing the needs of First Nations communities received an Emerald Award in Calgary on June 6. The Cenovus TRTL (Technological Residence Traditional Living) was the winner in the Education category and the team received a trophy and a $5,000 cash prize.

The Emerald Awards are given out by the Alberta Emerald Foundation to celebrate and showcase environmental leadership in Alberta.

"This award is recognition of the hard work of more than 100 students from the Faculty of Environmental Design, the Schulich School of Engineering and the Haskayne School of Business, our aboriginal partners and corporate sponsors,” says Alexandre Ste-Marie, communications lead and fourth-year business student. “It is also a validation that working collaboratively is the best way to appropriately address some of the critical issues affecting communities and make an impact."

The TRTL was designed and built by University of Calgary students and was the only Canadian entry in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathlon competition in Washington, D.C. The house placed 10th out of 19 entries and had the highest number of public visitors during the weeklong competition.

The TRTL is back at the University of Calgary and in the final stages of reconstruction. It will be housed on campus as a hub for advanced building and sustainability research. Findings and lessons learned from this project are driving the design of the next solar house for entry into the 2013 Solar Decathlon.

The University of Calgary team will collaborate with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and Mount Royal University to form Team Alberta, one of two Canadian teams that will compete in 2013 against entries from across the U.S. and around the world. The other Canadian team is Team Ontario, comprised of members from Queen’s University, Carleton University and Algonquin College.

Team Alberta's concept is based on addressing the pressing housing needs in remote communities and industrial camps such as those in the Fort McMurray region. The team intends to produce a modular home that is easy to transport and assemble and is affordable for working families and remote working populations.

More details on the Cenovus TRTL are available at

By Jennifer Sowa and Alexandre Ste-Marie for UToday