Burgeoning Borealis

Two years of hard work for more than 150 of Calgary’s post-secondary students will come to fruition this October.

The students were behind the construction of the sustainable home Borealis, an entry for the Solar Decathlon in Irvine, California.

The Solar Decathlon is a biannual competition in which the U.S. Department of Energy challenges post-secondary teams to design, build and operate cost-effective solar powered homes, which are also energy efficient and attractive.

The competition features 20 postsecondary institutions from around the world with the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University’s Team Alberta representing Canada along with a team from Ontario.

“The Borealis project certainly showcases the best of what happens at universities,” said Dru Marshall, provost and vice-president, University of Calgary at a public unveiling for Borealis Aug. 14. “Student leadership, innovation, collaboration and teamwork … demonstrates that all of our students are well equipped to propel Alberta’s economic growth in the coming years.

“It puts our students in an international competitive environment created by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon and it sets them up to operate competitively in the global competitive workplace of tomorrow.”

The design behind Borealis had remote working populations such as resource industries in Western Canada in mind. The home is easily transported in prefabricated modules, includes two bedrooms based on a shared service core with kitchen, dining, bathroom and mechanical room; has individual outside access for each and includes net zero energy performance, a fully automated control system and an energy recovery system which stores waste heat to use for dehumidification and heating.

“I can’t express how excited I am about this project,” said Thomas Lukaszuk, deputy premier of Alberta. “It hits so many rights on so many different levels and one would wonder how can it be that building a house can be such an example of how different systems can work so well together and how it can show us what can be done when we have collaborations.”

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