Monday, October 16, 2017

UNLV Places First in Innovation at 2017 Solar Decathlon

Image courtesy of UNLV Team Vegas
In its third effort at the biennial Solar Decathlon, UNLV's 990 square feet "Sinatra Living" entry placed second in the Architecture and first in Innovation.   Designed for desert living and aging-in-place, the project emphasizes:
  • Passive Design
  • Comfort & Accessibility
  • Home Automation
  • Electrical/Mechanical/Water Systems 
  • Sustainable Building Techniques
The Team Vegas website shows more background and imagery.
See the project under construction here...
Read local press here... and Vegas Seven here...

Innovations specific to energy use include use of a phase change material (PCM), Tesla battery storage, and a modular mechanical room:

  • PCM - cooling system works at off-peak hours and stores energy creating utility bill savings
  • Tesla Powerwall 2.0 battery - stores energy for high need periods or to sell back to utility
  • Modular Mechanical Room - used for solar thermal tubes to head radiant floors and hot water systems

For convenience and efficiency, the Sinatra Living home is automated with the Amazon Alexa system for presets and remote control.  Beyond basic home automation; integral sensors detect falls, unlock doors, reconfigure furnishings, and can be programmed to alert caregivers.  These aging-in-place features contribute to sustainability by allowing longer occupation of the home by a single resident and reducing the need for separate assisted living construction.

According to the official competition website, "The Solar Decathlon is an intensive course in sustainability for competing teams and visitors alike. Called a "living laboratory," the event is a live demonstration of energy-efficient design, clean energy technologies, smart home solutions, water conservation measures, electric vehicles, and sustainable materials."

Competing teams are judged in 10 categories, must be able to transport and reassemble their homes at the site (Denver this year), produce their own off-grid power, cook and serve a meal and run a load of laundry.  Categories are:
  • Architecture
  • Market Potential
  • Engineering
  • Communications
  • Innovation
  • Water 
  • Health & Comfort
  • Appliances
  • Home Life 
  • Energy
Image courtesy of

The overall Decathlon winner was the Swiss team.  See their NeighborHub project here...
Scores and category information are available at the Solar Decathlon website.

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