Tuesday, November 25, 2008

AIA Home Design Trends Report

A recent study conducted by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reveals the popularity of energy management systems and sustainable design elements in our current market, and highlights some new trends in home design, including emerging home features in systems, technologies, materials, and function rooms.

“There is strong demand for green home design features and products like solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, and water reclamation systems,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “As there is more focus on making homes more energy-efficient, there is less emphasis on investing in special function rooms such as home offices and game rooms.”

While overall room sizes are reducing in size, home offices are still the most requested function room in new home design. Home workshops and mud rooms are still popular, as well, but other function rooms such as in-law suites and hobby and game rooms are being left on the drawing room floor. The reason? New innovative energy conservation technologies are taking their place.

Solar panels and photovoltaics, along with energy management systems, are among the “special features” being incorporated into new homes. Other well-liked features include installing wireless technology, geothermal heating and cooling systems, water reclamation (such as cisterns), air purification systems, and automated lighting controls.

Products featuring green, energy efficient, and low maintenance characteristics are also on the rise – including tankless water heaters, double- or triple-glazed windows, sustainable flooring products, synthetic or engineered materials (as in countertops, flooring, decking), and reclaimed or salvaged materials. Also popular in the product category are water-saving devices such as filters, aerators on taps, and low-flow showerhead nozzles.

Insulation is taking a front seat in sustainable design, a trend that is overwhelmingly popular in both new construction and remodels. Structural Insulated Panels are staying at the top of the list for consumers building new energy efficient homes, and adding insulation to existing homes is popular among remodels (Bonin Architects actively supports building with SIP panels!) With active hurricanes and their widespread destruction over the past three years (five in 2006, six in 2007 and six to date in 2008), it’s not surprising that “hurricane resistant” design is saturating coastal region’s building activity.

Accessibility in the home has also maintained its standings in well-liked home features. Ramps, elevators, handles, and faucets – anything easy-to-use – are still being incorporated into sustainable home designs. Being scratched off the home design priority list are three or more car garages, which are now being seen as a luxury.

For the advantages of designing and building a green home, check out one of our past blogs,
Benefits of Building a Green Home.

What are your priorities in home design?

Innovative, Sustainable Design Solutions

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