Canadian Solar Decathlon Entry Blends design with cultural sensitivity

Team Canada solar decathlon photo CleanEnergyAuthorityClearnEnergyAuthority reports that Team Canada’s entry in the 2011 Solar Decathlon in Washington D.C this week uses native cultural design for their solar home. “In Canada, and I’m sure in North America, cultural considerations have been largely left out of the process of building homes, and that omission doesn’t represent the different needs of First Nation cultures,” said Johann Kyser, aboriginal relations team manager. Kyser says that First Nation citizens in Canada are restricted in regards to housing rights. One law states that a house built on First Nation reserve land becomes part of Canada, instead of remaining sovereign.  “That’s why we are creating a modular structure,” said Kyser. “We are hoping this becomes a means to allow first nations to develop and build equity and leverage.” “Mold and burn are critical problems in First Nation housing right now,” Kyser said. “Rates of fire are twice that in non native communities. So, we are using magnesium oxide as a building material, which is impervious to mold and fire—beyond the culture and beyond the technology, we are creating safety.” “Aboriginal cultures are very connected to the land and spirituality,” said Kyser. “One of the things we look to is the medicine wheel—each of the four colors on the wheel symbolizes a connection to the elements. One of the places you will really see this connection to color in the home is painted on the winter count, on the canvas under the roof. We worked with the community to explore what their values are—it’s an active system and an integrated system, as well.”

(Photo credit: CleanEnergyAuthority)


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