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CityLab contributor and a professor of architecture at McGill University Avi Friedman believes the U.S. home building industry is not making enough strides toward prefabrication. Although he recognizes the quality of building products has improved, he says construction methods of wood-frame homes still resemble the processes used back in the 1940s. The lack of monetary investment in research and development could be one reason, plus lack of interest and market pull.

The depletion of non-renewable natural resources, alarming levels of greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change are a few of the environmental challenges that call for a reconsideration of old practices in favor of ones that promote better suitability between buildings and their environments. Concepts that minimize a home’s carbon footprint, such as advanced heating and cooling systems technologies and use of homes that produce as much as energy as they consume—net-zero homes—are some contemporary strategies that builders need to integrate into their practice across the board.

On the economic front, the increasing costs of materials, labor, land, and infrastructure put housing beyond the reach of many. Affordability is well-served by concepts that include adaptable units where the occupants can select only the components that they need and can afford. Variations might include the type of kitchen as well as smaller, less-expensive models from the same prefabricated design.

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