The Rise of the Healthy Home

Millennials make up the largest segment of new construction homebuyers at 32%, according to the New Construction Consumer Housing Trends Report from Zillow Group, www.zillowgroup.com, Seattle, Wash.—and there is a rising type of new homes that this group wants today: the healthy home.

The National Center for Healthy Housing, www.nchh.org, Columbia, Md., says the home is actually one of the most dangerous places for U.S. families, with 45% having at least one health or safety hazard. At the same time, more people have asthma (26.5 million people) or die from radon-related lung cancer (21,000 people) each year.

Technology and building solutions are a way to respond to this. For instance, the organization says for every dollar invested in home-visiting programs that address asthma self-management and indoor environmental triggers, there is a return of $5.30-$14.

Technology companies, manufacturers, and homebuilders all recognize this and are also responding. Take for example KB Home, www.kbhome.com, Los Angeles, Calif., ProjeKt, which is purpose-built from the foundation up to better connect homebuyers with their health and wellness. The R&D home in Henderson, Nev., features the DARWIN Home Wellness Intelligence system from Delos, www.delos.com, New York, N.Y., which the company coins as a home wellness intelligence network.

Jacob Atalla, VP, innovation and sustainability, KB Home, explains, “Increasingly people think healthier homes will help them spend less on health expenses.” Further, he adds that it has continued to look at trends that have emerged—such as the healthy home—and then researches trends that will influence housing in the future.

ProjeKt explores four big trends in new homes today: flexibility, sustainability, health and wellness, and technology. The DARWIN Home Wellness Intelligence system provides purified air, purified water, enhanced sleep, and circadian lighting. A circadian rhythm is the biological process that is driven by the 24-hour rhythms of the circadian clock. Lighting in the home has moved humans away from traditional circadian rhythm of natural lighting—but now with this new technology in place, our senses can be recalibrated with the help of home wellness intelligence.

This trend toward the healthy home is one technology companies are also watching closely. For instance, Panasonic, www.panasonic.com, Osaka, Japan, highlighted this concept earlier this year at the IBS (Intl. Builders Show) with its Cosmos healthy home system, which is slated to launch later this year. The system gathers and disseminates indoor air quality data and communicates via an open IoT (Internet of Things) platform. It can also speak to theromstats, Amazon Alexa, kitchen range heads, and other home systems.

Homeowners—especially Millennials want to know if there is a problem and that the system took care of it. Patricia Monks, national marketing manager, Indoor Air Quality Division, Panasonic, says this is the future of indoor air quality—and more specifically that the future of healthy homes will be automatic.
Manufacturers are additionally responding to the movement toward more healthy homes. Rick Caldwell, VP of marketing, Systemair, www.systemair.net, Lenexa, Kan., which provides ventilation systems, says, “Homeowners are starting to value indoor air quality more and are starting to understand ventilation and that we need to bring fresh air into the home.”

Fantech, a Systemair company, offers whole-house filtration systems. Caldwell explains that lately there has been a new movement to make homes air tight—like the trend to make buildings air tight back in the 1970s. The challenge is air tight homes can easily make everybody sick because it doesn’t bring outdoor air into the home. Often, this can be referred to as sick building syndrome. This company’s HERO series preconditions the air and brings air into the home, helping to create a healthier home for owners.

Going forward, some of the key ways to make homes a little bit healthier include improving ventilation in homes, focusing on eliminating radon, and leveraging advanced technology to provide homeowners with the intelligence needed to understand if a home is healthy or not—and perhaps, more importantly, the tools to improve the home wellness if it is not.

As more Millennials continue to buy new homes, they will come to expect homes that have this intelligence.

BIM to AI: Information to Intelligence

Too often BIM (building information modeling) is associated exclusively with models and design, but it has always been a collaborative approach to accessing the data needed on a construction project—information that can be shared with all stakeholders on a construction project.

Today, many technology providers are encouraging construction professionals to look beyond the model—and rather at the data that the system is generating in order to make predictions and decisions for the future.

Eric Harris, strategic communications manager, Trimble, www.trimble.com, Sunnyvale, Calif., says, “BIM is important but we need to take the information and build something with it and think beyond BIM in the traditional sense.” He adds that we need to change the conversation from the model to the information.
To help, Trimble Connect is a collaboration environment where everyone involved in a construction project can access information about what is happening on a construction project. The cloud service is laying the groundwork for transactional system innovation, as an example.

“BIM is important but we need to take the information and build something with it and think beyond BIM in the traditional sense.”
– Eric Harris, Trimble

This is in line with a big trend that is happening in the construction industry today, according to Andy Dickey, business development manager, Trimble Structures, and that the industry is “transitioning from file-based transactions to web-based transactions.”

For years, many of the large technology providers attempted to be the all-in-one solution for construction professionals, but with many of the new, emerging technologies like AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning, drones, and more, no one vendor will be able to do all of that. Construction companies need choices. As such today, the industry is very much in a best-of-breed world with open APIs (application programming interfaces), says Dustin Anderson, vice president, Sage Construction and Real Estate, www.sagecre.com, Beaverton, Ore.

These emerging technologies are going to explode in the next few years too. McKinsey, www.mckinsey.com, New York, N.Y., says that by 2030 some 70% of companies might have adopted at least one type of AI technology, but less will have fully absorbed all of the opportunities for it. Still, AI has the potential to drive up global economic activity to $13 trillion by 2030, which represents roughly 16% higher cumulative GDP compared with today. The tech will help automate labor and improve processes for all industries, including construction.

One company that is leveraging AI and human intelligence is InEight, www.ineight.com, Scottsdale, Ariz., especially considering the acquisition of BASIS, which is purpose-built AI planning software that combines human intelligence, as it relates to scheduling. This is a big trend, according to David Swider, executive vice president, sales, InEight, who says, “Everyone is having a good discussion about what the schedule will look like.”

Swider says there are three big things it hopes to help construction achieve: understanding analytics, finding a central place for data, and predictive planning and scheduling.

As new, emerging technologies continue to proliferate the construction industry, central to all of it will be the data that it provides—and how it helps improve business operations. This is the story that started with BIM more than 10 years ago—and will continue with AI going forward.