Sustainability, Efficiency, Wellness, Function and Style

The products drawing the attention of the show judges from the 2024 Design & Construction Week® events illustrate the needs and trends buyers are looking for. Sustainability and Wellness are at the top of their lists.

The 41st edition of The New American Home™ built for the 2024 International Builders Show® (IBS) was a one-level home of 7,722 square feet.  The focus throughout each phase of this build was to create a home with exceptional design. But also to go above and beyond as far as sustainability, energy efficiency and air quality for optimum wellness.  High-tech insulation, energy-efficient utilities and state-of-the-art solar panels were used. Together, they give the home a registered HERS index of -45. This means the show home is 145% more energy efficient than the average new home. And it’s 45% more efficient than a net-zero home. 
Photos ©2023 Levi Ellyson/501Studios, courtesy Pro Builder Media.

Continued Demand for Sustainability and Efficiency

Sustainability and Efficiency are key considerations in the home design

The Best Energy Efficient Product category winner was also named 2024 Best in Show. Solstice Shingles by CertainTeed LLC  are low-profile solar shingles. They seamlessly integrate with traditional asphalt shingles while delivering very high photovoltaic electrical conversion. Shingles are rated to be installed in any wind zone and carry a Class 3 impact resistance rating. They come with a 25-year warranty.

Now what if windows could become the only source of heating system?  Earning Best Home Technology Product MB-79N Window with Infratherm Technology by BERTRAND Windows & Doors use infrared technology to heat the inner pane of glass. And thanks to a special coating, the heat is reflected inside the room.

Doing More With Less Means Dedicated Spaces for Everything: Less Clutter=Better Wellness

“Plan landing zones for everything every family member needs to grab before heading out of the house—shoes, coats, bags, phones, sunglasses, keys,” advises Residental Designer Rebecca Sutton of Dallas-based Kitchen Design Concepts.

Reducing clutter adds the wellness factor.
Earning the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) Best in Show Award, FreePower for Countertop embeds its wireless charging technology into countertops. Turn any surface into a wireless charger!
Hide office clutter behind a Murphy Door

According to fourth quarter 2023 analyses, median single-family square floor area came in at 2,156 square feet. This is the lowest reading since the beginning of 2010.  And home sizes will continue to trend lower as housing affordability remains constrained. 

As affordability shrinks square footage for most homes, flex spaces make sure that no rooms are underutilized.  A traditional dining room can double as a sitting room, bar, or lounge space. An extra bedroom can be your home gym most of the time.  Add a pull-down Murphy bed to accommodate overnight guests.

Home organization increases the wellness factor.
Hardware Resources’ rollout cabinet organizers give everything a “home.”

Thoughtful inclusions that make life easier and more organized can be simple but important things that don’t go unnoticed.  The UCLA Center on Everyday Lives and Families found that physical clutter can increase our bodies’ cortisol levels, a stress hormone. With “wellness” as a major trigger, designated storage systems are a priority. Space to keep your homebuyers’ belongings organized and in their proper place can help reduce stress and make it easier to find what they need when they need it.

Grand Rooms Are a Thing of Years’ Past

A noticeable shift is underway, emphasizing semi-private zones, particularly within the kitchen. By opening the main section of the kitchen to the living space, a sense of openness is maintained.  However, strategically concealing a portion behind a partial wall or bookshelves not only provides additional storage but also offers a discreet area to hide items from view for later while you continue to entertain your guests.

In the space (right), designed by Kitchen Design Concepts of Dallas, the incorporation of tall walls serves dual purposes by adding privacy for the chef. Opting for a tall wall to fashion a peninsula, as opposed to an island, introduces versatility. On the living room side, it functions as an art display, while on the kitchen side, it accommodates a television. Broadened walkways and openings, coupled with the elimination of headers, maintain a grand ambiance without compromising a sense of intimacy.

Stress reducing design adds to the wellness factor

Design Spaces for Optimum Physical and Mental Health

Indoor air quality is critical for a healthy living environment. Air circulation helps reduce air pollutants such as CO2, which can lead to respiratory illnesses, poor sleep, and breathing disorders. Proper ventilation also helps dissipate humidity to prevent mold and bacteria growth in bathroom and laundry areas and balances air pressure and temperatures throughout the home.

Indoor air quality is a huge factor in the overall wellness of the home.
When a ventilated door is needed, The VanAir Door is a unique solution.  Avoid unsightly vents, grills, and louvers and any loss of sound privacy. Air flows in from one side through the door core and out the other side.  Staggered ventilation slots on opposing faces form a discreet and elegant ventilation pathway. 

Windows and Lighting Systems Stand to Make a Large Impact on Well-Being

Our bodies operate on a finely tuned circadian rhythm that dictates the ebb and flow of our sleep-wake cycle. Many studies have revealed that insufficient exposure to natural light, especially in the morning, can disrupt circadian rhythms, potentially leading to difficulty falling asleep, waking up, or staying alert during the day.

balancing circadian rhythms is a big part of the wellness factor

Optimizing natural light is a top priority of most floorplans.  But it’s impossible for all homes in a development to align on an east to west axis. That’s were automated systems that can adjust incoming or artificial light based on time, occupancy, or tasks come into play.  Named Best Indoor Product at the 2024 IBS Show, Jasco Pro Series Smart Cycle Lighting by Jasco Products automatically adjusts color temperature and brightness to emulate the sun throughout the day.

Builders in Johnson Development’s Jubilee community located in Hockley, Texas, northwest of Houston are now incorporating the Jasco Pro circadian rhythm lighting packages s part of their standard packages.  This plus other standard features like a fresh-air intake, MERV 13-rated whole-home media filter, and a reverse-osmosis filtration system in the kitchens, will the homes in Jubilee qualify for to be “WELL for residential certified” by the International WELL Building Institute

Value is Placed on Personalization, Authenticity and Outside-the-Box Thinking

Stellar by Heat & Glo allows owners to create their own custom gas fireplace in any shape, any size and any location with bold flames and luxury options.

The unique shape of Thermador’s Star® creates a perimeter 56% longer than a round range burner of the same size, which allows the inclusion of more flame ports. 22,000 BTU of pure cooking power for better searing and faster boiling.

Qoldfusion offers a first in residential luxury walk-in cold pantries.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Sometimes when we’re challenged about why we do or do not include certain things in our homes, the only answer is, “Well, it’s just not something that has been done before.”  As more and more buyers answer back with “Well, Why Not?” Savvy builders will explore the possibilities and help the buyer weigh the costs and the payback.


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