UNLV Solar Decathlon team heads to world-wide competition

Students on UNLV's Team Las Vegas will vie to defend their title — first in the United States and second in the world — in the international 2017 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon next month.

The prestigious competition, held every two years, challenges college students around the world to design and build a fully-functional, energy-efficient, and cost-effective solar-powered house.

After more than 18 months of planning, designing, and building, an interdisciplinary team of UNLV students from engineering, architecture, hotel administration, and health sciences will disassemble the home the home and head to Denver, CO, where they have nine days to rebuild it and compete against 13 teams.

UNLV's 990-square-foot home, dubbed Sinatra Living, blends design excellence and energy efficiency and meets a growing social need: Aging-in-place.

●    Nationally, it is projected that by 2030 one out of every five people in the United States will be 65 or older.

●    To address this, UNLV’s home combines accessibility and interior comfort with wireless integrated technology. The design will serve as a smart-home that will help older adults and those with disabilities move safely in their home and communicate with family and social services, enabling them to remain in their homes and prevent transfer to an institutionalized care facility.

●    A team of 25+ students, most of whom had never built a home or worked on a construction project in any capacity, raised funds, solicited donated materials, and are building a 990-square foot solar house from the ground up — gaining hands-on experience while incorporating classroom skills into the design/build process.

●    Examples of state-of-the-art technology incorporated into the design include an Amazon Alexa personal assistant system that can be used to control temperature and the home's movable features, monitor water/energy use, and make phone calls; modern lighting systems that automatically balance artificial and natural lighting to save energy; and adjustable counters to allow for wheelchair access.

●    The winner of this prestigious competition is the team that best blends design excellence and smart energy production with innovation, market potential, and energy and water efficiency.

●    UNLV placed first among American universities and second overall the last time our students competed in the biannual Solar Decathlon, in 2013. That home, dubbed DesertSol, is currently on display at Springs Preserve.


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