How will buildings change, and what does all this mean for the floor covering industry?
How Building Will Change Over the Coming Decade?
The U.S. economy is in the midst of a long-term evolution. We used to rely on manufacturing to generate economic growth. We now rely more on services. The occupations that are expected to see the most growth over the coming decade are heavily concentrated in the service sectors. This service sections include health care, food services and computer and software technical support, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The facilities that we are building are responding to these and other fundamental changes in our economy. For example, with greater focus on managed health care, we are seeing greater growth of neighborhood health centers. This assisted living facilities and rehabilitation centers rather than traditional acute care facilities like regional hospitals.
Likewise, given the rapid rate of technological changes, we have seen less and less traditional four-year college liberal arts degree programs. Instead, we’ve seen a greater focus on vocational and technical skills training, distance learning and mid-career education. The rapid growth in online shopping has increased the need for improved logistics and distribution facilities. Office space is increasingly based on an open space design, creating greater need for furnishings and technology. With growth in house sharing services like Airbnb, Inc., many households are using their homes differently, while simultaneously reducing the need for traditional hotel facilities.
Heightened focus on resource conservation and sustainable design:
Along with reductions in reliance on traditional energy sources, conservation of other natural resources is expected to increase. 4 in 10 architecture firms (41 percent) expect that water conservation and efficiency will significantly increase in importance over the next 5 to 10 years. 38 percent of firms anticipate that energy efficiency designs and retrofits will do the same.
Innovation in materials allows for expanded design options:
Technology has led to the development of products that contribute towards increasing building efficiency (e.g.renewable and low maintenance materials). Technology has also led to the development of products that also allow for new ways to design, such as through composite materials and new glass/glazing technologies.
New technologies can also increase the efficiency of the people using the buildings. Architects anticipate that there will be a significant increase in the importance of lighting technology systems (e.g.LED, daylighting) over the next 5 to 10 years. These changes will enhance the workplace environment through more natural light. In addition, 41 percent of survey respondents anticipate a significant increase in the importance of automated systems, which can also help decrease energy usage through products like motion-sensor activated lights.
What does all this mean for the floor covering industry?
The use of building information modeling software, while already widespread, will continue to grow over the next decade. In addition, 22 percent of responding firms expect that design-build and other alternative product delivery techniques will significantly increase in importance, as will lean construction techniques.
As design trends change, your customers’ needs change. The success will depend on servicing these evolving needs. There are at least three principles that our industry should keep in mind as these trends emerge:
- Be green, by providing a full range of healthy and sustainable products.
- Target products that simplify the design, production and installation process.
- Innovate, innovate, innovate — in terms of new floor covering materials, installation procedures and products that are flexible as the design of buildings continue to evolve.