The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition composed of ten contests that challenge student teams from all over the world to design and build full-size, solar-powered homes. This competition aims to provide students with training that prepares them for the clean energy workforce and to educate the public about the latest technologies and materials in energy efficient design. The Solar Decathlon was first held in 2002 and occurs biennially. Since its inception, over 150 multidisciplinary collegiate teams have participated in the competition.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) participated in the Solar Decathlon for the first time in 2013. Their entry, DesertSol, was designed as an energy efficient vacation home. The UNLV Solar Decathlon team placed in the top three in the overall competition and were the top team from the United States. As of 2018, DesertSol is on display as a permanent exhibit at the Springs Preserve (Las Vegas, Nevada), a 180-acre cultural institution designed to commemorate Las Vegas’s history.
The 2017 UNLV Solar Decathlon team entry, Sinatra Living, was an energy efficient home designed specifically for the aging population. The Senior accessible home included features like an ADA compliant bathroom and adjustable kitchen countertop. The 2017 UNLV Solar Decathlon team won first place in the Innovation contest. As of 2018, Sinatra Living is located in Southern Nevada.
UNLV has also been invited to participate in the 2019-2020 Solar Decathlon, as one of only seven teams selected.