Home Innovation Insights

Insider insights on what's going on in the home building industry.

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November 20, 2020

Voice of the Verifier: Amy Otley, NGBS Green Verifier

We are debuting a new opportunity for Verifiers – come takeover the Home Innovation Insights blog! Every few weeks we are going to allow a green blog media takeover and grant posting privileges to a Verifier influencer with green expertise to share.

Our first takeover-er is Amy Otley from TexEnergy Solutions/US Eco Logic. Read on to see what Amy has to say.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Building Products, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Marketing

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November 13, 2020

Home, Home on the … Infill Lot

While the markets for new homes and building materials roil with unpredictability, there are some things in the new home construction industry that are a little more stable—such as the types of building lots available. “They’re not making any more land,” the old adage goes, and land for new residential developments is universally reported to be in extremely short supply.

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Building Products, Marketing, Building Practices, Homebuyer Preferences, Data and Trends

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November 9, 2020

Sun-sational, Sustainable Design in the Tropical Zone

Climate change and its effects are accelerating. Consequently, communities are suffering from more frequent and higher intensity climate-related disasters – from hurricanes to wildfires to flooding. With each new event, we have an opportunity to reconsider how we repair and rebuild disaster-damaged homes and how we design and build new homes.

Enhanced resilience is an essential part of any comprehensive green building certification. A green building standard like the National Green Building Standard ICC-700 (NGBS) is designed to eliminate or reduce the environmental impacts of the homes we build (or rebuild), and also includes practices to help homes better withstand future disasters.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Building Products, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Marketing

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October 27, 2020

Seasons of Green

This month we celebrate another NGBS Green milestone with the certification of our 250,000th NGBS Green Home. When we started the NGBS Green certification program in 2009, our goal was to provide a national, credible, rigorous, and affordable green building certification for the residential construction industry. Until NGBS Green started, residential building certifications lagged significantly behind other building types. The places we lived – our homes, townhouses, multifamily buildings, housing for students and seniors, and assisted living facilities – were foregoing high-performance green building programs because they were too difficult and expensive to attain. We had the audacity to believe that needed to change – and understood the role we could play in helping our entire industry do better. Better for the environment. Better for climate change. Better for homebuyers and renters.

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October 14, 2020

Being Green Just Got a Heck of a Lot Easier

With the 2020 NGBS, single-family homes can earn the NGBS Green Certified level if they comply with all applicable green practices from the 2020 NGBS Chapter 12. This streamlined yet rigorous certification path requires homes to be designed and constructed to be more efficient than 2018 IECC code-compliant homes and to include important building practices that ensure the home provides a healthier indoor environment, is more water efficient, and is more durable. The NGBS Chapter 12 Certified Path focuses on the most impactful practices that improve energy and water efficiency, create a healthier living space, and manage potential moisture issues. For energy efficiency, builders have a choice among Prescriptive, Performance, and Energy Rating Index (ERI) paths. For water efficiency, builders have a choice between Prescriptive and Performance paths. This certification option is more streamlined and, to keep verification costs lower, NGBS Green Verifiers can batch multiple homes for both registration and verification report submittal. Find out more about this option.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Building Products, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Marketing

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October 7, 2020

Is Wellness the New Energy Efficiency?

Energy-efficient home builders report that their homes sell faster, for more money, and perhaps more importantly, that their buyers are more satisfied with their energy-efficient home than with their former inefficient homes. Win-win-win. Builders are rewarded for their energy-efficient homes, the environment benefits from homes that require fewer nonrenewable resources, and homebuyers get a more high-performing home. But, is an energy-efficient home the golden ticket for builders? Unfortunately, no. Energy codes are becoming more stringent, so now, depending on a home’s location, even code-minimum homes can be relatively energy efficient. That makes energy performance less of a distinction among builders. Now may be the perfect time to consider emphasizing the health & wellness features of your green homes over their energy efficiency.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Building Products, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Marketing

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September 30, 2020

What’s in a Name? Defining “Residential” in NGBS Terms

When first approved by ANSI in 2009, the NGBS was notable because it was the first national green building rating system specifically designed for residential buildings. Before the NGBS, national programs such as LEED and Green Globes were designed to address the specifics of commercial buildings. Consequently, only a few multifamily buildings in the pre-NGBS days tried to adapt to the compliance requirements of the early green certification options. But even the first few iterations of the NGBS did not cover all types of residential construction. The 2020 NGBS Consensus Committee sought to remedy this issue by revising the NGBS’s definition of residential. Now the NGBS is inclusive of all buildings within which we live during the various stages and phases of our lives. Find out more about the new opportunities now available to multifamily and mixed-use builders and developers.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Building Products, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Marketing

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September 23, 2020

Smart Products Are Green Products

Today, it can seem impossible to find a new appliance that isn’t a “smart” product. I recently purchased a new washer and dryer set, and I noted so many models with mobile and voice notification and control. Some products even featured automatic reordering of detergents and softeners based on sensor feedback!

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Building Codes, Building Products, Building Practices, Energy Performance, Green Building, Marketing

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September 21, 2020

With COVID-19 Market Disruptions, Slight Needle Tilt in Attitudes Toward Offsite Construction

Prior to COVID-19, a tightening labor supply and hot housing market portended a bright future for offsite housing construction methods, such as panelization and modular. In the wake of coronavirus and rising availability of workers sidelined from other industries, at least one key driver of builders adopting offsite methods may have faded. Are builders less inclined to adopt offsite construction now? Or are there other factors making them more ready for the change? A recent survey aimed to find out the answer to these and other related questions.

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Building Products, Marketing, Building Practices, Homebuyer Preferences, Data and Trends

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September 17, 2020

NGBS Version Aversion? How to Pick the Right NGBS Version for Your Project

In early 2020, ANSI approved the fourth version of the National Green Building Standard ICC-700 (NGBS) as an American National Standard. Now, builders and developers have a choice to seek NGBS Green certification based on either the 2015 NGBS or the 2020 NGBS. Which is the best version for your project and your market? Some may presume that compliance with the 2015 NGBS would be less challenging and/or less expensive to achieve compliance. But, don’t be so quick to dismiss the 2020 as a more beneficial option. The 2020 NGBS Consensus Committee made several important improvements that warrant strong consideration before embarking on your next green building project. Check out this post on some factors to consider as you make the decision.

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September 4, 2020

Offsite Construction is the Answer—But, to Which Question?

A lot of attention has been given to offsite building solutions in recent years, and data show that it’s quickly making inroads in multifamily and commercial construction. Offsite construction has also been touted as a solution to the shortage of skilled construction labor that has hampered housing production in the past few years. Large single-family builders have told us repeatedly how difficult it has been to keep up with housing demand because they can’t get homes built fast enough – they attribute this to the tight schedules of subcontracted labor who can’t find enough skilled workers to keep up. NAHB reports that the average cycle time for building a single-family home has increased from 6 months to 7 in the past few years.

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September 2, 2020

Healthy, Smart & Efficient – Earn NGBS Green+ for Your Next Home

Homebuyers look for sustainable and efficient design, but they also bring their own values to the home search. Health is top of mind for consumers right now, and many buyers recognize the role that our homes play in keeping us healthy and safe. Since we’re all spending more time at home, some buyers look for the convenience afforded by smart home systems and accessible design. And, while there is so much uncertainty globally, some crave the security that is afforded by energy and water independence and resilient design.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Building Products, Energy Performance

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August 20, 2020

COVID-19 Brings New Mix of Customers, Product Sales to Pro Yards (Part II)

The national news and trade press have regularly kept us up-to-date on the COVID-19 traffic boost in home improvement warehouse (HIW) stores, largely due to their visibility with retail locations across the country and publicly-traded stock, which makes information on their performance readily available.

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Building Products, Marketing, Building Practices, Homebuyer Preferences, Data and Trends

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August 13, 2020

COVID-19 Brings New Mix of Customers, Product Sales to Pro Yards (Part I)

Building products manufacturers, mills, and wood treatment facilities are keenly aware of the COVID-19 traffic boost in home improvement warehouse (HIW) stores, such as Home Depot, Menards, and Lowes. If they have a strong presence in those locations, these manufacturers are happy about that boost. But many who aren’t well established in HIW stores and are more dependent on lumber and building materials dealers are feeling like they’re missing an opportunity.

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July 16, 2020

A Q&A With Our Newest P.E.!

As you may have seen in our recent news announcement, Home Innovation recently celebrated the licensure of Nay B. Shah as one of Maryland’s and Home Innovation’s most recent Professional Engineers. Home Innovation is known for conducting cutting-edge building science research, green building certification, laboratory testing, and market assessments. As part of this culture, we highly encourage and support the licensure of all of our engineers. We believe it not only adds value to our clients and our work, but is an important step in the career progression of our engineers.

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Building Codes, Building Practices, Energy Performance, Building Products

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July 10, 2020

New Builder Practices Report Reveals Air Tightening Strategies Among Home Builders

With most of the 2020 Builder Practices Reports now available, we’ve been anxiously reviewing each report for new trends in building products for new homes. In addition to our traditional line up of questions, the 2020 survey contained some new topics—for example, we added questions on air sealing methods for new homes.

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June 30, 2020

Do I Hear an Echo?

The 1970’s was the greatest home building decade in U.S. history in terms of the total number of new homes built—nearly 18 million residences in that decade. Fueled by the Baby Boom generation’s need for housing, there was a rental housing boom in the early 70’s, followed by a very strong starter home market, and later as the Baby Boom generation continued to move through its life cycle, began buying move-up homes like they did starter homes a decade earlier.

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June 10, 2020

The Great Outdoors: Trends from 2020 Consumer Practices Survey

For the past several years, Outdoor Living upgrades have been getting a lot more attention as homeowners seek to expand their living space from within the walls of the home to beyond those borders. Average new home size has shrunk in the past few years, but the expansion of outdoor living space has more than filled the gap the shrinking home has left.

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May 26, 2020

Changes in Consumer Remodeling Choices

Our 2020 Annual Consumer Practices Survey is complete, data compiled, and reports will be available starting this week. More than 110,000 U.S. and Canadian households participated this year and provided highly-detailed information on their remodeling activities and purchases from nearly 40 different product categories. This is an incredibly important data year as it establishes a pre-COVID-19 benchmark to measure against. The home flooring replacement market, for example, was anything but static in the preceding year.

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May 11, 2020

Brushstrokes & Chill: Interior Painting, Outdoor Living Get Boost During Stay-At-Home

Occasionally, unforeseen opportunities arise in the course of research where data can be analyzed for a purpose that was not originally intended. Collecting data from our 100,000-response Consumer Practices Survey (CPS) occurred from mid-February to mid-April 2020; this collection period spanned the period of time when we first began seeing COVID-19 as a serious threat in the Unites States and governments began restricting certain businesses and activities.

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May 1, 2020

Post-COVID-19 Market Environment for Construction Products

While in most states home construction has been considered “essential” in our COVID-19-restricted economy, that doesn’t mean that all things have been “business-as-usual.” Quite the contrary. Builders and contractors are reporting that social distancing measures and shut downs in other sectors of the economy have slowed sales, lengthened construction times, and reduced the reliability and flexibility of their workforce. As states begin allowing limited re-opening of more businesses, construction companies are focusing on how to handle a surge in demand. But will the building product industry, with its own COVID-19 curtailments, be able to sufficiently supply a robust rebound of the residential construction industry? And, just as importantly, what product mix will satisfy the needs of the new industry environment?

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April 22, 2020

Building Product R&D During COVID-19 Pandemic: Full Steam Ahead or On Hold?

In theory, business disruptions, even one as unexpected and drastic as COVID-19, can spur innovation in an industry as companies adapt to overcome new challenges to their economic viability. However, reality often favors the opposite end of the spectrum, where companies opt to retrench, preserve cash, and focus on short-term, revenue-generating functions as they prepare for a potential protracted downturn. This tactic likely results in reallocating dollars away from R&D and market expansion efforts. And, since these activities are generally associated with a company’s innovativeness – and further, its long-term health and viability – the chasm between the theoretical benefits and harsh reality of major disruptions widens.

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April 17, 2020

Focus Shift: Builders’ Views on Skilled Labor Shortage Change in the Face of COVID-19 Crisis

One of the hottest topics in the industry press prior to March of this year was the ongoing and growing shortage of skilled construction labor. The coverage reflected the perceptions of home builders across the country as they faced this daunting issue and its effects on their businesses. Over the past few weeks, however, with builder confidence about future sales dropping sharply in response to COVID-19, we felt it was time for us to re-assess the labor environment as a builder priority.

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April 13, 2020

Manufacturer Mindset: Finding Solutions to Today’s Moisture Issues

Moisture control and dehumidification are increasingly hot topics among residential builders and property managers in hot-humid climates. Home Innovation's Cindy Wasser recently spoke with a couple of our manufacturer partners with NGBS Green Certified Products to learn more about the industry trends they’re seeing, and the solutions their companies are implementing to ensure energy-efficient green homes maintain proper moisture and humidity.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Building Products, Energy Performance

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April 9, 2020

Discrete Choice in Qualitative Research—A Powerful Way to Determine the “Why” of Decision Dynamics

Most researchers associate discrete choice methodologies with surveys where the objective is to measure the “What” of buyer preference. But in qualitative research, where exploration is a common objective, discrete choice methodology can be applied to better understand the “Why” of decision dynamics and to identify what tradeoffs buyers are making when choosing building products or services. Home Innovation offers clients this powerful way to explore decision making through discrete choice qualitative research.

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Data and Trends, Survey Research, Building Products, Marketing, Building Practices

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April 2, 2020

Which to Pick? Energy Efficiency vs. IAQ

Growing interest in Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) have some believing it will soon rival Energy Efficiency in consumers' housing-related decision making. So we put it to the test, adding a question to our 2020 Consumer Practices Survey. Take a look at my summary of what we found.

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March 20, 2020

COVID-19 Update for Current & Prospective Laboratory Testing Clients

We understand the concern and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and want you to know that the entire Home Innovation team is committed to being responsive to the needs of our clients as the situation evolves. At Home Innovation Research Labs, the health and safety of our clients and our employees is our number one priority. As such, we are taking necessary measures to ensure the safety of our staff, while also remaining open for business to provide full business continuity for all of your testing and code compliance needs.

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Product Testing, Building Products, Building Codes, Building Practices

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March 18, 2020

Looking for a Needle in a Haystack? We’ve Got It!

Finding and surveying a consumer group with specific home repair or remodeling purchase experience can be challenging, at best. Sometimes, it’s like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Here’s why it can be so difficult — each year…

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March 16, 2020

How NGBS Green Certification Program is Addressing Issues Associated with COVID-19

The NGBS Green Certification program team is monitoring the ongoing situation affecting the nation and the globe with the coronavirus/COVID-19. We have put certain practices into place and provided guidance to our NGBS Green Verifiers (who are all independent contractors subject to their own business requirements) and other program partners, and will continue to update as best practices and guidance from the CDC dictate.

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Green Building

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February 28, 2020

PROVE IT! Time & Motion Studies of Building Product Installations

You know your product addresses the growing construction labor shortage, but your claims are falling on the deaf ears of skeptical potential buyers. They’ve heard that claim before and want someone to provide verification that it really works. Unfortunately, for manufacturers who have developed truly improved products, there are few standard test methods to empirically validate benefits like these.

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January 31, 2020

The Year Ahead in Residential Housewrap

Historically, one of the biggest challenges home builders have faced is keeping rainwater out of wood-framed walls. Earliest techniques included big roof overhangs to shelter walls from rainwater, lapping siding boards to push water away from walls, protecting the framing with moisture-resistant sheathing materials, and later, placing a water-resistant layer like asphalt felt beneath siding to protect wood elements from rot.

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