Gallery: Team Canada’s TRTL Solar Decathlon House is a Modern Take on a...

image © Jessica Dailey for Inhabitat
TRTL's prominent photovoltaic system is made up of 37 P235PA panels by Conenergy, and it operates at 93 percent of its optimal efficiency.

Building on the importance of family and community gathering, the open plan TRTL house features a flexible dining and living area that fosters family relationships. The two bedroom home can be assembled quickly and can also be easily modified to accommodate more space. The modern kitchen encourages family cooking, and it is outfitted with energy-efficient appliances and ventilation to discourage humidity when cooking.

The home’s distinctive turtle-shaped “shell,” is made up of highly durable steel and TitanWall SIPs (structural insulated panels), which are fire and mold resistant and can last 75 to 100 years without maintenance. While we like the rounded shape of the house, the judges seemed to be less enthused, as TRTL placed at the bottom of the pack in the architecture category. The SIP panels encase the rounded solar panel array that covers the south-facing portion of the curved roof. The 8.7kW solar array produces enough energy to power the home all year round with excess energy to boot, making TRTL a net zero home. The photovoltaic system is made up of 37 P235PA panels by Conenergy, and it operates at 93 percent of its optimal efficiency.

Interestingly, one of the stipulations for building on Native American reservations is that if the building has a permanent foundation, it becomes the property of the government, which gives residents of reservations little reason to invest in building a home. Team Canada wanted to use their Solar Decathlon house to create a structure that would encourage Native Americans to build their own homes, so they partnered with the native tribes that of Treaty Seven to ensure that the house would be suitable for reservations in Canada. To avoid the issue of a permanent foundation, TRTL is based on a system of screw-piles for its foundation, making it a temporary modular home that can be removed with no effect on the land.

Many of the homes on reservations in Alberta are powered by coal burning power plants, which are responsible for tremendous amounts of CO2 emissions each year. TRTL eliminates the need for this polluting power source while encouraging Native Americans to own their own homes and foster family relationships.

+ Team Canada University of Calgary

+ Solar Decathlon Coverage on Inhabitat


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  1. Teicher Lauz March 6, 2014 at 2:58 am

    how much the solar panel 200watts

  2. electric38 September 30, 2011 at 4:23 am

    What you call “excess energy” is perfect for the emerging electric car market. Quick change car (and bike) batteries that can now be solar charged will easily use this energy. The judges would be wise to give additional consideration for this feature.

  3. zeropassiv September 29, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    The SIPs panels they use in this project is Magnesium Oxide Boards sandwiching EPS foam. This is a new product in the SIPs world. It is fireproof and mold proof. A little harder to work with but very good alternative to the standard OSB SIPs. I think this is one of the 4 student-built projects. They did an awesome job with it.

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