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Photo credit: Nick Pearce


Construction of a solar wood kiln at the Deanery Project began in 2011 in response to a donation of felled city trees, and to further the Deanery’s interests in sustainable woodland management. In addition to creating resources for value added wood products, the solar wood kiln is an important teaching tool.

In 2011 forty-seven trees were cut at Dalhousie University to make way for the new Ocean Sciences Building. Rather than sending them to landfill, as is the typical practice for urban tree disposal, the trees were donated to the Deanery Project in hopes that an environmentally responsible use for the trees could be found.

A grant from TD Friends of the Environment, in partnership with Dalhousie University, and support from many volunteers enabled the Solar Kiln to be built the same year. In addition to providing value added wood products, the solar wood kiln helps:

illustrate basic passive solar design and solar heating principals

motivate local woodlot owners to consider low-impact, value-added opportunities for their wood.

create educational experiences to build skills connecting natural building and the forest industry

The Solar Wood Kiln has become a unique, functional structure at the Deanery Project, providing a window into environmentally responsible ways of working with wood. It is the hope of The Deanery Project that many more such kilns will be built in communities across Nova Scotia. (It should be noted that the Deanery’s solar kiln is a “large batch kiln” and is a pilot project for Nova Scotia; Simpler, more affordable versions can be built on a smaller scale to serve a variety of purposes.)

Approximately 47 trees of various sizes were removed to create space for this building. As part of Dalhousie’s natural environment policy and guidelines an equal amount of biomass needed to be replaced. Money for this replacement was calculated and provided to replant biomass material on campus (trees and shrubs). The trees that were removed were shipped to a local non-profit organization. Some of this wood (oak, maple, birch) was dried in a solar kiln. This wood was used to create five benches in the Oceans Science Building atrium. [1]


[1]        “Solar Wood Kiln.” The Deanery Project. Accessed August 6, 2021. http://thedeaneryproject.com/solar-wood-kiln/.

Additional information:

“Our Story.” The Deanery Project. Accessed August 6, 2021. http://thedeaneryproject.com/about-3/history/.

“Policies and Guidelines.” Dalhousie University. Accessed August 6, 2021.

“Pivotal Moments in Architecture – Free Lab 2015 – Dalhousie University Alumni.” Dalhousie Alumni, June 7, 2016. https://alumni.dal.ca/news/a-pivotal-moment-in-architecture-free-lab-2015/.

“Solar Kiln.” Popular Woodworking Magazine. Popular Woodworking Magazine, February 12, 2015. https://www.popularwoodworking.com/projects/solar-kiln/.

Project Title: The Solar Kiln
Artists:  The Deanery Project
Year: 2011

Place: Lake Charlotte, Nova Scotia

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