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UNLV’s Solar Decathlon Team Wins First Place in Innovation Contest, Second Place in Architecture

Overall competition winner to be announced on Saturday.
Campus News  |  Oct 13, 2017  |  By Cheryl Bella
Media Contact: Cheryl Bella, 702-499-3930 (c),

UNLV's Solar Decathlon team works to complete their aging-in-place home for the prestigious competition. (Radioactive Productions)

UNLV’s Team Las Vegas has taken top prizes in two key contests at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 competition for their Sinatra Living home design. In Innovation, the student team received 98 out of 100 points, ranking first place and beating the second-place team by five points. In Architecture, they tied with Washington University in St. Louis for second place with a total of 94 points.

Innovation and Architecture are two of six juried contests included in the 10-event competition which runs through October 15, and is taking place in Denver. The additional four contests – Health and Comfort, Appliances, Home Life and Energy – are measured contests with final results being calculated on a daily basis and into each team’s final score.

Four of the 10 contest awards have been announced so far. The grand prize award winner will be announced Saturday morning. Currently, Team Las Vegas is in fourth place overall out of 11 teams.

For the Innovation contest, new for the competition this year, teams were judged on aspects such as how they incorporated research to decide on design solutions, how well the team integrated passive strategies and materials into their design to maximize sustainability, and the extent to which their design utilized innovative approaches to satisfy an existing market need. Complete criteria for the contest can be found at

“We set out to build a home that was innovative, yet simple, a home well-suited to our Las Vegas community both in terms of climate and demographic,” said Nasko Balaktchiev, student project manager. “The team definitely believed that we executed our concept well, and we’re elated and proud that the judges agreed.”

For the Architecture contest, judges evaluated teams on the concept and design of their home, and how well their homes integrated solar and energy efficiency technologies into that design. [Complete criteria for the contest

In addition to a home that blends design excellence with optimal energy efficiency, Sinatra Living was designed to meet a growing social need – aging-in-place. The home combines accessibility and interior comfort with smart home and health-monitoring technologies to help older adults move safely in their environment, communicate with care givers and social services, and ultimately remain in their homes longer.

The public can still show support for Team Las Vegas by voting in the Solar Decathlon’s People’s Choice Award. Voting takes place on Facebook. Online votes are being accepted through Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. Results will be broadcast on Facebook on Oct. 15.

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition made up of 10 contests that challenge student teams to design and build full-size, solar-powered houses. Competing students gain hands-on experience and unique training while consumers experience the latest technologies and materials in innovative energy technologies, smart home solutions, water conservation and sustainable buildings.

Sinatra Living’s multi-disciplinary team includes faculty and students from the School of Architecture, the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, the School of Allied Health Sciences, and the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration.

The project is sponsored by Switch and NV Energy Foundation.

For more information on the project, follow the team on Facebook at Team Las Vegas Solar Decathlon 2017 (@UNLVSD17), on Twitter @UNLVSD17, and on Instagram @UNLVSD17, or visit the Web site at