Building Science in Action

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Owens Corning

Business & Marketing The Growing Impact of Healthy Environments in Homebuyer Demand

Changing values around homeownership are shifting consumers’ focus from healthy finances to healthy lifestyles. Only 1% of Americans see their home as a measure of success, according to an IKEA Life at Home Report, a clear sign that priorities are evolving from external to internal factors.

At Sphere Trending we see well-being moving up on home buyers’ wish lists, evident by new product introductions for the home as well as the growing influence of trade fairs such as Greenbuild. As this proactive mindset filters into all generations, new amenities offering health benefits and supporting daily wellness routines will be in demand. Consider these following trends:

  • “Aspirational well-being” is the mantra of 21st century home living. The home has become a platform for “in-sourcing,” bringing those amenities we used to experience outside–spa, gym, theater and restaurant–into our daily environment. Post-recession this became more of a necessity as a cost-savings measure but now we are so comfortable at home that it is just as much of a choice.
  • The theme of this year’s ISH (International Sanitation and Heating) show was “Comfort and Technology,” highlighting the bath as an ideal stepping stone towards home automation due to the smaller size of the rooms and opportunity for personalization. This was illustrated by Dornbracht’s release of the “Comfort Shower,” a relaxing seated shower experience using customized water modules with health benefits. The master bath has evolved into a multi-functioning prep, relaxation and well-being space.
  • The idea that comfort and health are tied together is indicative of the cultural shift in proactive wellness. Younger adults for the first time report using anti-aging makeup, with 40% expecting to start between 25-35 years of age (Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research). With such an educated homeowner populace, it is no surprise that today’s consumer understands the importance of natural light, outdoor spaces, clean air and other wellness amenities. This has set the stage for health-minded building practices, such as the WELL Building Standard, pioneered by Delos. And now Delos is partnering with Strategic Property Partners to create a 40 acre urban mixed-use development in Tampa that will be the first WELL certified city district.
  • Developers are also looking outside of the home’s four walls to include amenities desirable to a health focused society – hiking trails, proximity to parks and water sports – understanding that these benefits can be as important as the features within the home. The new Florida Shearwater community, currently in presale, includes a Kayak Club and Exercise Lodge among its health minded amenities.
  • Society is encouraging environments to become healthier. A new law recently passed in France mandates that all new buildings built in commercial zones in France must be partially covered in either plants or solar panels. Since 2009, Toronto has mandated green roofs on all new industrial and residential buildings. The residential building community needs to pay attention to how these societal shifts will influence 21st century home layouts. We will see new designs that appeal to a Living Kitchen, Spa Bathroom, Outdoor Home, Meditation Area as well as Active Interiors for exercise. In addition, durable products will be inclusive of comfort, safety and well-being. We are changing the infrastructure to support physical, spiritual, and mental health in our most valuable resource – the home.
  • We cannot overstate the importance of the link between the interior home and the exterior. Sphere Trending reported on the rise of “Streetside Living” over a decade ago, whereby homeowners are looking to reach out to their neighbors for more real time interactions. The front porch continues to be a top rated amenity for today’s homeowner in both new builds and remodels. The trend now evolves to seamless living between inside and outside spaces.
  • At this fall’s High Point Furniture Market, we saw a noticeable increase in the number of indoor furniture pieces being upholstered in either outdoor or high performance fabrics. Consumers are creating a new mix as they break the rules between what goes where and push the boundaries on furnishings that can live indoors and out.
  • Builders are now competing in a marketplace that includes four active generations, to increase to five in another ten years as today’s youth population become first-time buyers. This is unprecedented, as in past eras the industry was mostly focused on entry-level and move-up buyers. There was no excitement around older consumers, as they didn’t move or remodel. But now we have the over-60 population remaining active in the homeowner market, with one in eight expected to live to be 100. Well-being takes on different meaning to each generation, switching from informal amenities to more formal needs as we age in place. However, we do know that all generations are looking for a new ecosystem of solutions within the home.

Similar to the future Smart Home, expectations are that the wellbeing ecosystem of tomorrow’s home will include cross-disciplinary initiatives for seamless homeowner interaction. As we say, what’s cool today will be an expectation in the future and the healthy home is poised to be the next great wellness product on the market.

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