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The 2013 University of Nevada Las Vegas Solar Decathlon House: Strategy, Design, Simulation and Results

[+] Author Affiliations
Zheng Zeng, Rick Hurt, Robert F. Boehm

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV

Paper No. ES2014-6458, pp. V002T10A010; 8 pages
  • ASME 2014 8th International Conference on Energy Sustainability collocated with the ASME 2014 12th International Conference on Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology
  • Volume 2: Economic, Environmental, and Policy Aspects of Alternate Energy; Fuels and Infrastructure, Biofuels and Energy Storage; High Performance Buildings; Solar Buildings, Including Solar Climate Control/Heating/Cooling; Sustainable Cities and Communities, Including Transportation; Thermofluid Analysis of Energy Systems, Including Exergy and Thermoeconomics
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA, June 30–July 2, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Advanced Energy Systems Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4587-5
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has posed the challenge to the homebuilding industry to make available cost-effective net-zero energy homes for all Americans by 2030. University of Nevada Las Vegas’s DesertSol was the 2nd place winner in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013. This paper identifies the implementation of integrative design during the planning and programming phases of the project, and the ways such practice benefited the team and the contractors. This paper also describes the unique approaches and simulation methods for the whole building design. The team designed a high performance whole building system that dramatically reduced the overall energy loads through careful detailing of the entire building envelope, efficient equipment and lighting, and onsite renewable generation with both solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal systems. Building Information Management (BIM) software was used collaboratively and iteratively among the multi-discipline team throughout the 2 year research, design and build phases. Furthermore, this paper also discusses the optimization of project cost and affordability versus building performance criteria. Each individual system was modeled using specific software or developed codes. NREL’s BEopt was used for identifying the cost-optimal packages for the whole building energy analysis, by inputting discrete parametric options, reflecting realistic construction materials and practices. Data collected during the Solar Decathlon event was a validation that the systems were functional and performed as simulated. Continuing data monitoring of the home at its permanent Las Vegas location will validate the modeled long-term performance of this house.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME



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