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.