Photos: Brian Stauffer

Yogi Berra, the Hall of Famerknown for his paradoxical observations, once said famously, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Indeed it is. But with all due respect to Mr. Berra, sometimes all you have to do to see the future is look around and see where there is a need, where opportunities lie, and where there will be challenges. As management guru Peter F. Drucker put it, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Some well known examples can be seen at Amazon (the Kindle) and Apple (the iPod). These companies understood that in an increasingly mobile world, consumers will want to transport more than one book or magazine at a time or be freed from the burden of carrying CDs.

Consumers have needs and wants for their homes, too. It’s obvious that the world’s growing population will require more energy and natural resources such as oil and water, which means that providing sustainable homes that use less energy and water is likely to be a continuing preoccupation for the industry. Less obvious, however, is what products, technology, systems, and practices will best accomplish this?

We decided to ask the people who pay the most attention to such things—sustainable builders, consultants, green building program officials, and LEED-certified architects—to look into the future and tell us what they see. We also gathered some of the best new ideas that keep popping up in our inboxes.

From these, we’ve compiled a list of 10 ideas that we think will be important in home building in the years to come. The collection is a sampling of ideas that will be pivotal in the future, but these are by no means the only ones. Take a look at our picks and let us know which of them you think will be important to the future of the home building industry.

1. The house will function as a system. 

Photos: Brian Stauffer

“I think a piece of what green building is getting us to is not just building a house stick by stick or brick by brick but really looking at it as a system,” says Amber Wood, program manager for energy efficiency at the NAHB Research Center in Upper Marlboro, Md. Simply put, everything in a house is connected. So, if you insulate better, you can use a smaller HVAC system. If you design your plumbing runs efficiently, it will save energy on heating bills. Though building scientists have been preaching about these connections for years, not many builders have paid attention. But Wood says manufacturers are making it easier for the industry to accomplish. “There are various products and different wall types and sections that are available now that I think will become more popular,” she says. “A lot of the products are going to be integrating various pieces [of the system], including air sealing and insulation in the wall.”

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Portland, ME.