I attended the Green Building Exposition last week and came across some very familiar companies like Lutron, Benjamin Moore & Kohler. Then there were many smaller businesses with great innovative green product solutions. Building products across the spectrum of imagination are on board to finding a sustainable building future.
It is impressive that most building product businesses are going out of their way to become competitive in the "green" movement. My personal observation and hypothesis is that home building will take on a whole new dimension in the next ten years in the United States. The way of life in a single family home is an expensive and luxurious privilege that most of the people on our planet have not nor ever will have the ability to pay for.
As we become more connected to the rest of the planet and compete with resources it is unlikely that our single family way of life will be affordable or desirable. I have observed that our major metropolitan areas in this country have three tiers of suburban development. The first tier appeared after World War II beginning in 1945 and lasted through the 60s. The second began in the 1970s and lasted until the recession of the early 90s. The third and most recent began in the mid 90s and ended with the Great Recession, circa 2007.
Each tier spread further from city centers but the third tier began to spring its own urban development around secondary suburban turned city centers. I am not at all insinuating that we will not continue to build single family suburban houses but the trend will likely move in the other direction. The sprawl of suburban development has reached a point where spreading any further has harmful environmental repercussions and is impractical due to the distance one has to travel to employment centers.
The future will see infill development and even if it is a single family house, the parcels will be much more compact than most baby boomers are use to. Other development will likely be medium density comprised of town houses, condominium and apartment buildings either built as infill or placed in existing urban cores.
The advent of living "green" is not so much of a choice as it is a necessity in the long term. Beware the company that exclaims sustainability out of necessity with thinly veiled Eco-conscience products as opposed to the ones who develop product legitimately intended as a renewable or replaceable resource.
Blog Entry #1
In the wake of the latest natural disaster in the United States, will architects realize the golden opportunity to make their profession invaluable to the greater population? Architects arguably hold the reputation as being a service that only the elite and rich can afford. It does not and should not be this way.
In the last housing boom, many successful and progressively minded architects ventured into prefabricated housing businesses. Some realized untapped markets and drew media attention that made them quasi famous. The great recession unpleasantly burst their bubble too.
In my humble observation, the now frequent large natural disasters that this country continually encounters since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 present an extraordinary opportunity for everyone. The home building industry from architects to carpet installers will be summoned on emergency notice to provide their services. Why not be proactive?
Architects can venture into business models where designs for prefabricated houses, whether they be single family or high rise, stand ready for immediate production and delivery in the wake of natural disasters or any surge in the need of well built, environmentally sensitive housing. The benefits are tremendous for communities to revitalize in a sensitive and progressive fashion with the proactive planning by talented architects, efficient home building companies and sub contractors. Survivors of such circumstances will heal more quickly and lives will return to normal with less trauma.
Let us not wait. We have seen several hurricanes, hundreds of destructive tornadoes, and wild fires consume property and lives at alarmingly record rates. Never mind the issue of global warming, for the reason alone that our planet is vastly more populated and built than just 50 years ago we risk massive property loss in all areas of the country relying on statistics alone. Imagine a very large earthquake in Southern California. It is inevitable.
My plea is to pay attention and be prepared but also to turn misfortune into opportunity.