Survey finds homeowners going green

WASHINGTONAs the housing market continues to struggle and energy costs remain near record highs, homeowners are looking to energy management systems and other sustainable design elements to help reduce the financial burden of high utility bills. Billings at architecture firms and inquiries for new projects are both at extremely low levels with no signs of an imminent turnaround. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the second quarter of 2008 that focused on emerging home features: systems, technologies and function rooms in the home.

“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.”

 

AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights

2008

2007

 

Home offices               

39%

61%

Mud rooms     

32%

n/a

Au pair / in-law suites  

16%

20%

Home workshops

12%

-4%

Hobby / game rooms   

8%

23%

                                                                                     
(% respond. report. popularity of room “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q2:)

Products

2008

2007   

Tank-less water heaters

88%

72%

Energy-efficient

69%

62%

Low maintenance         

70%

65%

“Green” flooring

69%

62%

Synthetic / engineered

62%

61%

Synthetic materials

62%

n/a

Water saving

62%

47%

Recycled materials

60%

n/a

(% respond. report. popularity of products “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q2:)

 

Systems / technologies

2008

2007   

Solar panels

64%

n/a

Energy management

54%

56%

Wireless systems

49%

65%

Geothermal heating / cooling

48%

46%

Water reclamation

41%

30%

Air purification

37%

32%

(% reporting popularity of system “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2:)

 

Special home features

2008

2007

Alt. insulation (e.g. panels; foam)

69%

 62%

Extra insulation

68%

56%

Ramps / elevators

43%

54%

Easy-to-use features

34%

32%

Hurricane resistant design

32%

36%

Three or more car garages

-6%

30%

                                     
(% reporting popularity of system “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2:2007)

Housing market business conditions

The extended slowdown in the residential market is adversely affecting architecture firms. The national billings index was 38 for the second quarter (any score below 50 indicates a decline in activity), the lowest score in the three and one-half hear history of this survey. Inquiries for new projects also dropped to a historic low mark of 37.

Specific construction segments

2008

2007

Additions / alterations:

26%

44%

Kitchen and bath remodeling:

22%

38%

Custom / luxury home market:

-27%

12%

Move-up home market:            

-44%

-2%

First-time buyer / affordable home market:

-46%

-40%

Townhouse / condo market:        

-49%

10%

Second home:     

-53%

-6%

 (% of respondents reporting sector “improving” minus % reporting “weakening”; Q2)

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