UNLV’s DesertSol home proves sustainability is possible—and stylish

Small wonder: The DesertSol home at Springs Preserve emphasizes smart, eco-friendly design.
Photo: Kristen Peterson

Now that the DesertSol home, which placed second in the U.S. Department of Energy’s international Solar Decathlon last year, has settled into its plot at the Springs Preserve, we can all have our moment of awareness, if not tongue-wagging inspiration.

The modular, solar-powered and transportable 754-square-foot home puts our Tuscan, stucco hearts to shame with its clean, stylish design and adaptability that emphasizes smart materials and indoor/outdoor living.

It’s where the adult visitors to Springs Preserve were lounging last Sunday, lured in by the idea of clever engineering and aesthetics, beginning with the low-slung home’s silvery gray exterior made of reclaimed Wyoming Snowfence wood and its spacious deck overlooking the gardens.

UNLV's water-efficient DesertSol home features stylish, contemporary aesthetics.

The water-efficient vacation home was designed and built by students in engineering, architecture and communication at UNLV, which was one of 20 universities competing.

Comprising two modules that include a living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and closet-sized laundry room, its radiant floor system uses energy harvested from the sun, and it includes energy-efficient appliances.

If you have a little extra cash hanging around, are nearing retirement and could use a second home that’s not only contemporary but sustainable (and able to move on a chassis), this is it.

Its target market—college-educated married couples who already have a primary home—makes it an unlikely replacement for the giant stucco boxes flourishing in the Valley, but after wandering through the minimalist home, decked with West Elm furniture, it becomes not so much a question of how attainable this currently is, but a sobering reminder of how ruthlessly neglectful we’ve become in our own homes.

Photo of Kristen Peterson

Kristen Peterson

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