The residential construction industry has a unique set of needs that technology can help solve. Today, two big emerging technology trends are unfolding in the construction industry.

3D-Printed Homes

While often hyped as a new and transformational technology that will bring about a 21st-century industrial revolution, 3D printing has in fact been around since the 1980s. IDTechEx suggests 3D printing technologies remained a niche technology until the mid-to-late 2000s. Around this time, new startup companies began offering inexpensive consumer-level 3D printers.

Thanks to a flurry of media attention in early 2010s, more people started paying attention to 3D printing. However, for some industries, such as construction, these dreams have yet to translate into reality on a large scale—until recently.

New Story and Icon unveiled a new 3D-printed home in Austin, Texas. It is permitted specifically for the developing world. The printer, called Vulcan, is designed to work under the constraints that are common in places like Haiti and rural El Salvador where power can be unpredictable and technical assistance is scarce. It is designed to function with near zero-waste.

New Story plans to print the first community of homes for underserved families in El Salvador in the coming 18 months. Then it will scale up production to serve additional communities in the next few years.

Energy-Efficient Homes

Another highly plugged trend in the construction industry is going green—and it has been for more than a decade. The most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report from the DOE (Dept. of Energy) shows that almost 1.4 million energy efficiency jobs are in the construction industry.

More specifically, solar energy is booming in the United States. The Solar Energy Industries Assn., indicates that in the last decade solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 68%. This is because of falling prices and new capacity.

One homebuilder that recognizes the value of solar is Pardee Homes San Diego, which has opened its first all-solar master-planned community. While the company has offered solar options to buyers in its communities for more than a decade, this is the first community where each of the homes in all four neighborhoods will include solar for purchase or lease.

Beyond solar, the company also offers LivingSmart, an energy-efficient program, in all homes across the four neighborhoods. This includes five key areas: EarthSmart, HealthSmart, EnergySmart, WaterSmart, and HomeSmart.

From 3D printing, to energy efficiency, technology is changing in the residential construction industry, enabling new methods for the future.

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