Building TRTL's Solar Shell

The University of Calgary is the only Canadian entry in the Solar Decathlon 2011. The interdisciplinary student team partnered with the Treaty 7 First Nations of Southern Alberta to design a home that addresses critical housing issues in Native communities. TRTL (pronounced 'turtle') is an affordable and sustainable option for Native housing—providing a healthy, safe, and durable structure that meets distinct needs and interests. The home's rounded form and east-facing entrance are inspired by the Tipi, honoring the sun as a traditional source of energy and life, and fostering a sense of identity and ownership. Key features include reduced operating, maintenance and replacement costs; resistance to fire and mould; an open concept interior centered on gathering, cooking and eating; and local natural materials and colors.

TRTL is being blessed by the former Chief of the Piikani Nation Dr. Reg Crowshoe, through 4 ceremonies preceding the competition. The traditional ceremonies have resulted in the project’s Blackfoot name—Spo’pi—which means turtle, and translates directly into ‘lives on stilts’ (very fitting given the competition and final foundation design strategies).The 1000 square-foot house is currently being built on the University of Calgary campus before it is disassembled and shipped to the National Mall in Washington D.C. and put on display for the competition (September 23-October 2, 2011), which attracts upwards of 150,000 visitors and widespread media attention.

The Cenovus TRTL is the University of Calgary’s second entry in the Solar Decathlon, following the 6th place finish of the award-winning SolAbode in 2009. Canada’s Team includes a collaboration of of students from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Environmental Design, the Schulich School of Engineering and the Haskayne School of Business, as well as a Native Cultural Advisory Council, and a Steering Committee. Over 100 individuals have come together to make the vision of TRTL a reality.


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For access to the entire archive of the University of Calgary's Solar Decathlon 2011 videos: Visit the Member Page

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