This story was originally published in Builder.

Sinatra Living offers active aging residents simplicity, comfort, and healthy living

The Solar Decathlon is an annual collegiate competition challenging student teams to design and build full-size, solar-powered homes with an emphasis on sustainability. This year, 13 teams from institutions across the world will participate in 10 contests that emphasize innovative design, energy efficiency, water use, resident comfort, and market potential. The DOE-sponsored competition, which is open to the public, will be hosted in Denver at the University of Colorado from Oct. 5-15. In this daily series, BUILDER takes a look at the innovative features of each of the homes.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas 2017 Solar Decathlon team will be building an age-in-place home that both echoes back to Vegas’ mid-century modern home style and looks to the future of sustainable housing.

The 990-square-foot Sinatra Living was designed to tackle two significant housing challenges: a rapidly aging population and a need for sustainable housing. Cattering to active adults 45 to 65 years old, Sinatra Living emphasizes accessibility, comfort, and reliability for any resident with mobility, visual, or cognitive impairments. The home is designed to ease middle-aged workers into retirement, giving them the ability to live healthily and independently.

Sinatra Living’s open layout includes adjustable countertops and shelves, slip-resistant flooring, and fall detection sensors that alert caregivers and unlock doors automatically. Outdoor decks with an overhang and operable shading encourage indoor-outdoor living.

Sinatra Living is composed of two modules with a modular mechanical room. Tube solar collectors are used to heat water and power the radiant floor heating system. Designed for a desert site, the home also includes a greywater reuse, rainwater, and condensate collection system.

Other technology features include a home automation application integrated with Amazon’s Alexa which gives residents access to security, temperature, and lighting controls whether they are at home or away. “We’re going into a time where everything is connected in some way or another," says project manager Adam Betemedhin. "The way we're going about designing this home and monitoring, and tracking the process of this home really shows a step forward in homebuilding design."

Another unique aspect of the Sinatra Living project was the UNLV team’s collaboration with an AARP focus group in the planning phase. Students used virtual reality and board displays to demonstrate the design and receive feedback on accessibility features. Two years in the works, the Sinatra Living project takes part of the future of sustainable housing and healthy living.

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