Solar Decathlon 2017

UNLV’s Team Las Vegas took first place for Innovation and second place for both Engineering and Architecture in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Competition. Overall, the team placed eighth out of a total of 11 national and international teams who competed.

What is Solar Decathlon?

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition challenges collegiate teams to design and build full-size, solar-powered houses that combine market potential and design excellence with smart energy production and maximum efficiency. Teams started the planning process two years in advance, built and tested their designs in their own cities, and then transported and rebuilt them at the competition site. This year the competition was held in Denver, Colorado, and included the first snow ever experienced during a Solar Decathlon Competition – earning this competition the nickname of Snowlar Decathlon.

UNLV’s 2017 Solar Decathlon Team

UNLV was one of 17 university teams selected to compete in the biennial competition. A University-wide collaboration, the team included faculty and students from multiple UNLV colleges including the School of Architecture, the College of Allied Health Sciences, the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, and the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. Due to the grueling nature of the competition and the time and resources required, six teams dropped out before the public competition began.

Solar Decathlon 2017 Wrap Up

2017 Design Concept

In addition to a home that blends cost-effectiveness, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency, for 2017 the UNLV team chose to design a home that meets a growing social need — an aging-in-place home.

Nationally it is projected that by 2030 one out of every five people in the United States will be 65 or older. This "graying" of America’s population through which the proportion of people in older age groups grows faster than the proportion of the population in younger age groups, is referred to as the "Gray Tsunami."

To address this, UNLV’s home combined accessibility and interior comfort with wireless integrated technology. The design serves as a smart-home that helps 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.

“The entire UNLV community is so proud of the dedication, persistence, and successes of Team Las Vegas – they embody everything our university, and our city, stand for,” said Len Jessup, president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “This was truly a collaborative effort and a lifetime experience that no one involved will ever forget.”

Team Supporters

In addition to the 60+ UNLV students who participated in the project, more than 100 other individuals and companies made the home, called “Sinatra Living,” possible, including cash supporters, in-kind material donors and the project’s main sponsors:

Switch Logo
NVEnergy Foundation Logo

The university is still seeking financial contributions for the project. Contact Jack Aylor at or 702-895-2913, for sponsorship and donation opportunities. You can also visit the team’s crowdfunding page.

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