Best Idea to Build On

UNLV Solar Decathlon



Sometimes a mist from the sea of scholarly labor sprays the masses on the shore. Such refreshingly accessible work is DesertSol, the name the UNLV Solar Decathlon team gave its house, which in October will be pitted against 19 other projects from around the world in a U.S. Department of Energy competition for best solar-powered, sustainable design. Set aside for a moment the general coolness of the $320,000, 754-square-foot design (it feels like 1,500): The house incorporates indoor-outdoor connections that expand livable space, repurposed distressed-wood exteriors that can weather the Mojave sun and a rainwater harvesting (and recycling) system that turns cool indoor streams into functional water supplies. Consider this: You, too, could build this house. Or rather, a general contractor could build it for you. Contest rules mandate the use of products and materials that are commercially available, not custom-designed or experimental. Following the competition, plans for all designs will be available for free download at the Energy Department’s website, and DesertSol will be the newest installation at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve.

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Jason Strauss


Jason Strauss

The tastemaker and nightlife impresario is a partner of Tao Group, a leading restaurant and nightlife company that develops, owns and operates numerous high-profile food and beverage facilities nationwide, including Tao, Lavo and Marquee. Along with his partners, Strauss was named Hospitality Operator of the Year by Nightclub & Bar in 2006, and their work with Marquee has been profiled as a case study by Harvard Business School.