Well-designed homes can consume as well as generate resources, much like a tree.
Well-designed homes can consume as well as generate resources, much like a tree.

Homes That Give Back – the IBACOS vision for homes of the future – Futuristic? Lofty? Unattainable? Weird? How about, “None of the above?” The truth is that these types of homes are quickly becoming a reality. For example:

--The era of “zero energy” is now making way for “net positive.”
--It is possible to eliminate potable water usage for toilets and lawn care, even in arid climates.
--Building materials can absorb indoor pollutants and “clean” the air inside the house.
--New connected technologies are making houses “sentient” and responsive to residents’ individuality and usage.

It is not a far cry now from the ultimate vision of homes that give back: Dwellings that equally consume and generate resources and services owners need to thrive in the modern—and future—world.

As we discussed in a recent blog, these types of homes replenish instead of deplete resources, like water, energy, clean air, and even food. At IBACOS, we liken this to the natural world: a tree uses water, nutrients from the soil, and energy from the sun yet at the same time provides shade, releases clean water through its leaves, provides shelter for other plants and animals, and most importantly produces oxygen. A home would be like a tree: an active member of the community that provides the resources and services that are essential to our lives. They are homes that:

·         Improve the quality of life for the people who live in them, for the communities in which they exist, and for society at large.
·         Are contributing members of society – offering more than they take or use.
·         Share renewable energy and reusable water with the homes, buildings and communities that surround them, maximizing efficiency.
·         Offer health benefits through improved air quality and water purifying materials and systems.
·         Are connected – constantly responding to the needs of the people who live in them and self-adjusting for greater performance.
·         Offer greater durability and less risk, providing updates on maintenance needs and failures before repairs become costly.
·         Offer overall affordability through lower maintenance, decreased obsolescence, higher valuations, and low to no utility bills.
·         Are adaptable and able to meet people’s evolving needs and lifestyles through smart design.
·         Provide safety and peace of mind for the people who live in them.
·         Help deliver a strong, efficient economy. 

Homes are a fundamental part of our society and economy. Just like a tree is an integral part of the forest ecosystem, homes are already an integral part of the societal “ecosystem” that encompasses people, business and government, culture, and the environment.

To be successful in building homes that give back, we must understand how homes now fit – and will fit -- into the evolving ecosystem of human society and economic growth. We need a clear vision of the future, and the fortitude to embrace this future and pave our own path forward. Then, with this clear vision, we must build a plan that maximizes performance and the movement of resources.

For now, some builders are farther along than others in this quest but drivers such as climate change, water and energy needs, population growth, land challenges, changing consumer realities, and economic concerns are going to force everyone to move ahead.

As George Casey recently put it, builders are questioning whether their way forward is as “home builders” or “shelter creators” – selling homes outright or providing and sustaining places for people to live. Members of our Alliance – including Beazer, Goodall Homes, and Lennar – are already thinking this way and changing their relationships to housing and their customers.

With the constraints we’ll be facing in the not-so-distant future, builders will have to evolve from tree planters to tree cultivators. We will have a vested interest in a house’s life well beyond a 10-year warranty. This vision has the potential to give back to the industry as well, at the tree and forest level – fueling a multitude of new revenue opportunities and innovation beyond what we can imagine today. But that’s a topic for our next blog.


Designed and Built to Change