PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

March 2, 2006

The Consumer is Determined to Play the Most Critical Role in Spurring Housing Innovation

PATH and McGraw-Hill Construction Announce Preliminary Results From Housing Innovation Symposium

[IMAGE: Manufacturers panel at symposium.]

PATH and McGraw-Hill Construction today announced the preliminary results from the Symposium on Market Data for Housing Innovation, held last week to help set the research agenda on housing innovation for the coming years.

It was no surprise that understanding consumers, their behaviors and their motives topped the list of immediate requirements to spur innovation in housing, though builders and product manufacturers also were determined to play a critical role.

After a day of intense discussion, the invite-only audience of leaders from industry, academia, government and private research organizations, presented the priorities for research on each key stakeholder group involved in advancing innovative homebuilding: consumers, builders, and manufacturers. At the end of the day, however, through a consensus voting process, it was understanding the consumer that rose to the top as most critical and necessary to spur innovation. It was suggested that because of the range of products, it was critical for the end-users of innovative technology (from homeowners to remodelers to builders) to be able to access a clearinghouse of product information like McGraw-Hill Construction's Sweets Network for products.

"I think the results are on point," stated Harvey Bernstein, Vice President of Industry Analytics & Alliances for McGraw-Hill Construction. "If we're going to move new products and innovation into practice, we need to understand better the characteristics and incentives that are important to the consumers -- what makes them receptive to new products? And from there, how do they get information? If we can make consumers aware of options and get them to demand innovation, we can transform our industry."

The results delved deeper into specific kinds of information that needs to be gathered:

These conclusions emerged as the most critical research areas, and will be integrated into a report that offers policy and implementation plan strategies for government and industry to use when moving forward in developing their research agendas.

PATH and McGraw-Hill Construction are exploring how the user-community thinks about technology, and how to achieve greater success influencing innovation in the nation's homes.

"For a number of years, we focused on developing the innovative technologies. Now, we need to move to the various players' motives and practices," stated Dr. Carlos Martín, one of the directors of the PATH program. "We know that all of these groups innovate or help the innovation process, but we need to know more about how and when this happens. In a first event of its kind, PATH and McGraw-Hill Construction were able to bring these players together to begin the process of uncovering what information is out there, and how can we find out more on how these groups think how in order to ignite innovation in the housing industry."

David Engel, Director for Affordable Housing Research and Technology from the Office of Policy Development and Research, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Studies, and David Rogers, Program Manager for the Building Technologies Program, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) highlighted the importance of the meeting and its results as part of the innovation process.

Bernstein pointed out the importance to having high level government support and the success of the program, "The reaction from the meeting was phenomenal. Not only did we see federal government leaders interested and involved, but our attendees remained engaged and dedicated to the discussions throughout the day, a sign that our industry has a real need to understand how innovation adoption works."

The "Identifying Housing Research Needs" project will release a final report summarizing the Symposium's results as well as delivery policy papers and strategy recommendations in the fall.

For more information:

Kate Fried

Content updated on 9/8/2006

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