Less is More Thomas Kenney, vice president of contract research for the NAHB Research Center addressed attendees at the Construction Marketing Research Council's fall 2006 meeting with a report on the Research Center study “The Potential Impact of Zero Energy Homes.” The study presents a far-reaching outlook into the possibilities for the zero-energy home (ZEH) concept in the new-home market and explores the potential impact of ZEH in reducing future U.S. energy consumption through 2050. The research was developed to explore macroeconomic factors and buyer attitudes that will influence market acceptance of the ZEH concept on a nationwide scale through the year 2050. Zero-energy homes are connected to the utility grid; they combine highly energy-efficient design and technology with solar electric and thermal systems to produce as much energy as they use on an annual basis, resulting in net zero-energy consumption and a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. During his presentation, Kenney explained that while these homes are technically feasible and a few exist today, they have yet to widely penetrate the new-home construction marketplace due to high first costs. However, market penetration of high-efficiency homes with solar energy systems has already begun and will continue in certain areas with financial incentive programs.

Rental Revival With demand for apartments on the rise and supply still tight, builder confidence in current rental apartment market conditions jumped in the third quarter of 2006, and their expectations for the next six months are even higher, according to the latest results of the NAHB's/ Fannie Mae Multifamily Rental Market Index.

“Good economic conditions—particularly growth in the job market—are driving demand in the rental apartment market,” says David Seiders, NAHB chief economist. “But the rental market is also benefiting from a tight supply. For-sale condo units have accounted for a large share of multifamily housing starts over the last few years at the same time a sizeable number of apartment units were being converted to condos.”

Racing Ahead Indianapolis maintained its strong grip on the title of most affordable major U.S. housing market in the third quarter of 2006, according to the NAHB/ Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index. This is the fifth consecutive time that the city has been named at the top of the affordability chart.

On With the Show Building professionals cite educational sessions, the product showcase, and networking opportunities as top reasons for attending the International Builders' Show, the industry's largest annual light-construction trade show and exhibition. The event, hosted by the NAHB, will be held at Orlando, Fla.'s Orange County Convention Center, Feb. 7—10.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Indianapolis, IN.