An energy-efficient building is no longer just a choice, it’s on the way to becoming a construction requirement nationwide.

Consider the state of California, which 40 years ago adopted Title 24 to establish basic energy standards for new and altered residential and commercial buildings. I remember doing my first Title 24 calculations using a simple four-function, hand-held calculator, and writing the calculations down on a paper form to submit to plan check.

Fast forward two-score years to when the California Energy Commission adopted new standards that go into effect in 2020 that require the amount of solar that will offset the home's electricity consumption. I can leave my calculator in my drawer because architects and engineers now use Building Information Modeling (BIM) to show how energy efficient a building will be. Energy efficiency has become table stakes for home builders.

We have gone from simple rules about minimum insulation and glazing standards to making sure new construction will generate all the energy it will consume. And now, we’re seeing the integration of energy efficiency into a new construction standard: total wellness.

You can improve and maintain your health by taking preventive measures such as scheduling regular doctor visits, getting more exercise and sleep, embracing nutritious eating habits, and creating a pollution and contaminant-free living environment. New research from Hanley Wood shows more people want their houses to facilitate those healthier lifestyles.

In support of the BUILDER KB Home ProjeKt, Hanley Wood commissioned The Farnsworth Group to survey people who either recently purchased a new home or are actively shopping for one, and found:

  • Three-quarters believe housing is essential or extremely important in contributing to their good health.
  • Two-thirds believe the right housing environment could cut their annual medical costs by 11% to 40%.

Architects, builders, technology developers and the other parties involved in building and remodeling houses are responding to these expectations by designing homes that emphasize the virtues of the higher levels of air and water quality, circadian lighting, noise reduction, resilient biophilic technologies and facilitating better sleep. Consider the BUILDER KB Home ProjeKt Health and Wellness Home of the Future that KTGY is helping build in Henderson, Nev.

Consideration must also be given to ensuring the home can adapt to deliver those benefits as the homeowner’s lifestyle needs change over the long-term. The challenge for builders is creating homes that cater to first-time buyers, families and empty nesters. As we age, and the kids grow up and move out, empty nesters will want a home that adapts to their changing needs and lifestyle.

If the original layout does not have a bedroom downstairs, a flex room should be designed to easily convert into the master bedroom suite with an adjacent bathroom that serves the owner’s new suite. Homes can also be designed with an optional outside stair to the upper floor that would allow for that space to convert into a rental unit and eventually could become a private suite for a full or part-time or caregiver.

The forward thinking design of the KB Home ProjeKt addressed the occupants health and well-being.
The forward thinking design of the KB Home ProjeKt addressed the occupants health and well-being.

These elements don’t require more money out of the home buyer’s pockets, just more thought on the part of home designers and builders. Intelligent design, health and wellness science, and technology advancements in areas like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), transportation and remote patient care are all coming together to serve as key building blocks for homes that are more energy efficient, environmentally friendly and support healthy and independent living for homeowners of all ages.

Unlike net-zero energy, which will soon be a requirement in home building, total wellness is still a choice, but it’s the right choice and, today, it’s an easy choice.

To learn more about health and wellness in the home, take a virtual tour of the BUILDER KB Home ProjeKt Health and Wellness Home of the Future here: