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PATH Forecasts

The Next Ten Years in Housing

What technologies will be commonplace in homes by the year 2014? Here's our forecast.

Construction methods

  • Frost-protected shallow foundations will be the norm for buildings with crawlspaces, slabs-on-grade, and walkout basements.
  • Pronounced trend toward factory built components and panelized construction-assembly on site, less sawing and nailing on site.
  • Optimum value engineered framing and other energy efficient wall systems will begin to replace traditional framing techniques. Steel framing will rise in popularity.

Energy Efficiency

  • Energy-efficiency builder packages and built-in recycling centers will move from option to being included in all base models. ENERGY STAR-type windows required by codes. Electrochromic windows will be offered on new high-end houses. ENERGY STAR appliances will also be added on base models.
  • Tankless, instantaneous water heaters vented through the wall will replace current storage-tank models as the predominant heater type in new construction. These units would also be located closer to the intended point of use of the hot water.
  • Solar thermal water heating and photovoltaics will be commonplace, and probably will be required by code in parts of the south and west. Less emphasis on on-site energy storage. Greater partnership with local utility companies in on-site generation.
  • Many home appliances, including heating and cooling systems will be controlled via the internet and users' preprogrammed preferences. Appliances and systems will "talk" to each other to optimize a user's lifestyle. Air-to-air heating recovery systems and air/water purification systems will become part of builders' base models.
  • Greater emphasis on energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment with consideration for indoor air quality. This includes increased popularity of geothermal heat pumps where both heating and air conditioning are installed, radiant heating, and sealed combustion.

Water Conservation

  • Rain catchment systems will be required in the southwest and offered on new homes elsewhere, along with greywater reuse systems.
  • Low-water use landscaping in all new development.

Design and Development

  • Online permitting and inspection requests will speed the regulatory process of homebuilding and reduce paperwork.
  • A rapidly increasing share of homes and home components will be designed and built on a standardized grid dimensions. Grid-based products already exist today, for example as seen with kitchen cabinets and doors. The "grid" system will produce more affordable housing and enable easier future home modifications.
  • Greater emphasis on infill development.
  • Greater use of streamlined environmental remediation strategies. Accelerated reuse of urban land.
  • Low impact development practices accepted or required.
  • Greater emphasis on design to allow aging in place and the construction of age-specific development. Universal design is standard.
  • A wider variety of house sizes and types to support affordability.

Content updated on 6/21/2004

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