UNLV Takes Second Place in International Solar Decathlon

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Two years of designing, planning, fundraising and materials-sourcing—not to mention hammer-swinging—has come to this: DesertSol, UNLV’s entry in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, has placed second overall.

Scroll through the photos below to view the solar-powered house designed and built by UNLV students.

Team Las Vegas faced stiff competition during the October 10-13 sustainable design-build contest, held in Irvine, California. Team Austria placed first among the 20 teams picked for the biennial international decathlon; also competing were Stanford, USC, the Czech Republic and a tandem squad from CalTech and the Southern California Institute of Architecture.

UNLV’s success, announced Saturday, was foreshadowed Thursday when DesertSol took first place in market appeal, one of 10 categories judged. It also was in the top five for hot water, home entertainment and comfort—all affirmations of Team Las Vegas’ vision for a sustainable home that both reflects its native Mojave Desert environment and offers an ideal space for relaxing and entertaining.

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Sixty students worked together to build the house, which has 30 solar panels and uses energy from the sun as its only fuel source. (Photo by Jon Estrada)

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Students envisioned the house as a retirement or second home, or a base camp for desert exploring. An open kitchen/dining area is designed for entertaining. (Photos by Jason Flakes, U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

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Flexible use of indoor and outdoor spaces allows the 754-square-foot home to feel spacious for its size. This porch has a tree motif on a semi-transparent screen, part of the design team’s effort to embody the soul of the Mojave Desert. (Photo by Jason Flakes/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

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Students incorporated reused, distressed wood into the building’s surfaces. The floors are heated with radiant heat. (Photo by Jason Flakes/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

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Teams were required to use components that were commercially available, so that the design is replicable by typical consumers. The UNLV house cost $320,000 to build. (Photo by Jon Estrada)

What do you think of the UNLV Solar Decathlon Team’s project? Will this type of solar-powered building become widely adopted? Tell us in the comments section below.


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