4 Trends That Will Affect Specification in 2019
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"Trend" isn’t necessarily a word a manufacturer wants to have used to describe their product, when used in reference to short-lived fads. But Merriam-Webster defines the word at least four different ways in its noun form: a prevailing tendency or inclination; a general movement; a current style or preference; or a line of development. None of these mean short-lived or like a fad. Looking at the current trends of the past year, they most definitely aren’t fads that will fade away anytime soon. Product manufacturers should pay attention to how these trends might affect their specification options.
Four Trends That Aren’t “Trendy”
- Increase in Modular and Prefabricated Construction Projects: Modular construction is gaining speed, particularly because of the rate at which residential and commercial buildings are built. In a previous blog, “Is Amazon Taking Over the B2B World?”, I shared some interesting facts and benefits about modular/prefabricated homes and ways in which this trend is expanding. This expansion is happening for a few reasons. First, modular/prefabricated structures are great for office buildings, hotels, and apartments. Second, modular/prefabricated construction is expanding because of the amount of material, time, and flexibility of it. It’s efficient in its use of time and money, it isn’t affected by weather as much as traditional construction, and the construction process recycles materials they don’t end up using or even excess material which cut back on waste. With the need for affordable housing, more builders should look at modular/prefabricated construction and product manufacturers should investigate how their product can benefit from this growing movement.
- Sustainability: When I was a teenager in the early 90’s, the mantra of the tree hugging movement was “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. I had no idea then that that mantra would be so vital to saving and preserving the Earth 25 years later. The term “sustainable design and construction” is broad. It means many things—seek to reduce the negative impact on the environment, reduce the consumption of non-renewable resources, manage the consumption of renewable resources at a logical rate, minimize waste, and improve and promote living environments. Sustainable design and construction focuses on small changes to reduce the amount of resources needed for construction, to reuse what materials and buildings they can, and to recycle as much as possible including the actual building.
- Resiliency: Sustainability and resilience are connected concepts within our industry, but while sustainability seeks to design and construct buildings that are kind to Earth’s resources and sustain over time, resiliency seeks to design and construct sustainable buildings that withstand natural disaster and environmental changes over time. A previous blog explains this partnership in-depth, and looks at the RELi standard, a new rating system and certification for buildings, neighborhoods, homes and infrastructure. Resilience is a critical topic. A Climate.gov article from January 2018 states that, since 1980, the “U.S. has sustained 219 weather and climate disasters where overall damage costs reached or exceeded $1 billion…The cumulative costs for these 219 events exceed $1.5 trillion.” If scientists are correct about climate change and if change is slow, these catastrophic events will continue to get worse. So, this trend of resilience isn’t going away, as developers continue to look at resilience in terms of risk mitigation and insurance costs, while designers, builders, and buyers carefully consider the realities of large-scale weather events.
- Wellness: The WELL standard, explained in a previous post, is pretty new, but the interest in is exploding. It is understood that 87% of the average American’s life is spent indoors. Depending on the variables, the average American spends at least 1/3 of their life at work, and more than 50% of each day at work or on work tasks such as getting ready and commuting. This interest in wellness isn’t a trendy fad, it is a necessary element of maintaining our human nature as discussed in another previous blog, “Creating Space to Nurture Our Human Nature in the Built World”. The WELL standard isn’t the only wellness focused program available. There’s also Fitwel, The Center for Active Design, and the newest one calling itself a pioneer of Wellness Real Estate, Delos. Wellness certifications and programs can be expensive to implement, but the current state of affairs in the world is making stress management a priority. Businesses want to encourage and enable employees to perform at their highest level, and people can only do that if they are well holistically. It’s not just the right thing to do; it also has excellent ROI. This trend is set up to improve in 2019, as a partnership between sustainability and wellness grows and as more industry leaders emerge.
How This Affects Specification
A lot of product manufacturers are at a crossroads with many changes happening rapidly in the AEC industry. Changes may be needed with a product to catch up with the “trends”, but changes don’t happen fast. Also, there are some trends that really ARE just short-lived fads. But the four listed here will endure, based on the past few years as well as projections for where the industry is headed. Knowing how a product works with, or against, these trends is vital to managing specification opportunities. Even just knowing the trends in the industry, even if your product doesn’t apply, can help build relationships when working with specifiers. They may not specify your product for a current project, but if you’re knowledgeable, that increases the odds that they’ll want to work with you in the future.
One way to increase knowledge is to take any of our free or premium courses or free webinars, or to participate in a Lunch & Learn (as an attendee OR as a presenter). These are great ways to expand what is known and to network.
Are there any trends that you see coming for 2019? Or any on this list you think will not endure?
For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please contact Brad Blank