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    Team Ontario takes first place in engineering at 6th international solar decathlon

    By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

    Students from Queen’s University, in co-operation with students from Carleton University and Algonquin College (aka Team Ontario), finished sixth overall at the recent U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon held in Irvine California. Team Ontario’s performance included a first-place finish in the highly coveted engineering category and ties for first in the hot water and energy balance categories.

    Team Ontario’s entry, called ECHO (Ecological Home), was designed to demonstrate the path to sustainable living for the “echo” generation in Canada.   The competition was a major undertaking, as the house not only had to be designed and built, but had to be disassembled for transport to California and reassembled there for the competition.

    “We put a lot of time into the engineering and were pleased to finish first overall in that category,” says project manager and recent Queen’s mechanical engineering graduate, Karl Kadwell. “It was an amazing joint effort between the three schools and we are all proud of our efforts. All the homes in the competition demonstrated what the homes of the future will look like. In eight and a half days, we went from an empty lot, to a fully functioning house. And we have five days to disassemble the house. To achieve that, it’s a team effort.”

    Team Ontario competed against 18 other teams that were selected from the USA, Canada, and Europe based on an extensive application process.  Over a two year period, selected teams were tasked with designing and building net-zero, energy-efficient houses that were judged in 10 categories including architecture, market appeal, engineering, affordability, comfort zone, hot water, appliances, home entertainment and energy balance. Team Austria, the overall winners of the event, attained the highest composite score in the ten evaluation categories. 

    "This was a fantastic project and demonstrates what can be achieved when Ontario colleges and universities collaborate,” says Queen’s faculty advisor Steve Harrison (Mechanical and Materials Engineering). “We not only produce unique experiences for our students but we end up with world class results that showcase Canada's and Ontario's technical strengths."

    For more details on the event and the results visit the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon website and to walkthrough ECHO visit the team’s YouTube page.