SAN DIEGO, CALIF. (April 27, 2023) –The America at Home Study today announced the launch of two new concept homes from the Housing Innovation Summit in Denver. Designed to address consumer insights from wave three of the national consumer study, the two homes—a for-rent townhome + accessory dwelling unit (ADU) called The Picket Fence, and a for-sale paired townhome called The 412—will be constructed in a factory and assembled at two nearby infill sites in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The concept homes are a collaborative effort between the founding partners of the America at Home Study, architect partner DAHLIN Architecture | Planning | Interiors, builder partner EcoCraft Homes, manufacturing partner Structural Modular Innovations (SMI), and development partner Housing Innovation Alliance.
The America at Home Study is the only longitudinal study of consumer behavior, values and attitudes about home and community, accumulating more than 10,000 responses nationwide during early, peak, and post-pandemic times. "Studying and reflecting on the consumer data collected since the America at Home Study's inception in 2020, we have a clear view of the behavior and lifestyle trends that emerged, escalated and endured," said community design and marketing expert Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki, who spearheaded the study with consumer strategist Belinda Sward and architect Nancy Keenan, president of DAHLIN. "It has led to the creation of two new concept homes that will address these lasting changes and spark important dialogue about adopting more progressive home design and construction practices. The Picket Fence and The 412 will focus on the livability and buildability of attainable market rate for-rent and for-sale homes."
Both concept homes will be built in an offsite factory using a modern method of construction called volumetric modular construction, a process that is only currently used in 6% of housing starts in the U.S.1 This homebuilding solution means consistently higher quality homes, reduced environmental impacts and construction waste, and more predictable, faster delivery times.
"These concept homes will bring attention to the scalable benefits of using modern methods of construction to create livable, healthy, and sustainable homes," said Dennis Steigerwalt, president of the Housing Innovation Alliance. "By demonstrating the benefits of volumetric modular construction—just one of numerous methods in the larger building technology-solutions mix designed to bring more precision and consistency—we aim to inspire more builders and developers to consider alternative construction processes that optimize resources to address the design and build aspects of the current housing shortage and create a more environmentally responsible, energy-efficient, and attainable housing market."
From Blueprint to Reality: A Tale of Two Homes
The concept homes are driven by the principle that space, material, and construction decisions must support holistic wellness across all domains for a better, healthier life. This guiding principle aligns with the study's latest findings that wellness is more than just a design driver, but for the first time it's also a key purchase motivator.
The Picket Fence is a three-story, 2,007-square-foot townhome + 660-square-foot ADU, anticipated to open in October 2023. The ground floor is a full studio home with an entry porch. The main home above includes three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a flex space, an entry porch, and covered deck. The home is a rental, designed for Trail Blazers, a millennial demographic identified using Kantar's MindBaseTM consumer attitudinal and generational segmentation, who seek a modern and sustainable living space that suits their active urban lifestyle.
Anticipated to open in April 2024, The 412 is a paired townhome consisting of two 2,024-square-foot residences. Each for-sale three-story home will include three bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, a loft, an office, one-bay garage, and multiple outdoor living spaces including an entry porch, covered patio, oversized roof deck, and more. Tailored to meet the needs of Full Throttles—a segment of younger baby boomers identified by Kantar's MindBaseTM segmentation who have a greater interest than other groups in wellness home features like energy and water conservation, eliminating chemicals, air filtration, climate control via smart devices, and solar—The 412 is being designed for buyers who are motivated to buy based on a desire to improve their health.
"Design is not just about aesthetics, but about creating intentional spaces that enhance the way we live, beyond the conventional ways of thinking about specific rooms," said Ryan White, director of design at DAHLIN Architecture | Planning | Interiors. "We're challenging conventional design standards to create spaces that truly support the needs of today's renters and buyers, reconsidering every aspect to ensure homes provide not only shelter, but spaces that make people feel better."
Building the Future Today with Volumetric Modular Construction
To set a new benchmark in sustainable and resilient construction, the America at Home Study concept home team is pursuing three tangible goals with important ESG considerations, including the documentation of embodied carbon emissions, construction waste, and healthy home performance metrics throughout the lifecycle of these homes.
The first goal is to reduce the carbon footprint of the homes by 70% compared to equivalent site-built construction, a desirable goal given that commercial and residential buildings account for 36% of total U.S. carbon emissions2. By constructing homes in a factory setting and carefully selecting raw materials and products with lower environmental impacts, the concept homes will reduce both embodied carbon and operational carbon emissions. Each home will also meet the Department of Energy's Zero Energy Ready Home Program, providing a measurable way to reduce energy consumption and reliance on non-renewable sources.
The second goal is to reduce construction waste by at least 90% compared to an equivalent site-built home, demonstrating that factory-built homes can reduce significant construction waste through efficiency and recycling.
The third goal is to build higher-performance homes with healthier indoor environments and energy resilience in the face of a major weather event. Contaminant-resistant construction practices and whole house ventilation systems with high capture filtration technologies will provide healthier indoor air quality. Comprehensive thermal protection, effective water barrier systems, and advanced technologies ensure comfort, energy efficiency, and durability. The homes will include systems for clean water filtration and environmentally sensitive home energy management, while a single source dashboard will easily let homeowners track their energy usage and make more informed decisions to conserve resources.
"With optimized design, we're prioritizing material choices that are both planet and people friendly, while also profitable for the industry," said Eric Newhouse, vice president of innovation at Structural Modular Innovations and factory liaison to EcoCraft Homes. "Sustainability and profitability are not mutually exclusive and we're confident these homes will be a resilient business case for all aspects of the industry including financing, trades, builders, and manufacturers."
Further details about The 412 and The Picket Fence will be forthcoming as development progresses, including a digital experience by d3 Creative that will allow prospective buyers and visitors to interact with the homes virtually. The 412 is also a demonstration home project in collaboration with Pro Builder Media and SGC-Horizon. For more information and to follow the home's progress through completion, please visit pbthe412home.com and americaathomestudy.com.
About The Picket Fence and The 412 Concept Homes
The Picket Fence and The 412 concept homes are a physical manifestation of the shifts in living behaviors and needs of Americans during early, peak, and post-pandemic times. Envisioned and realized by three women leaders in the homebuilding industry who also serve as the America at Home Study founders, the new factory built concept homes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are the collective effort of DAHLIN Architecture | Planning | Interiors (architect), Structural Modular Innovations, LLC (manufacturer), EcoCraft Homes (builder), and Housing Innovation Alliance (developer). The Picket Fence, a for-rent townhome + accessory dwelling unit, and The 412, a for-sale paired townhome, are anticipated to open in October 2023 and April 2024, respectively. The intent is to inspire new ways builders and architects can think about designing healthier high-performance homes using modern methods of construction, while maintaining a focus on market attainability.
About the America at Home Study
The America at Home Study (americaathomestudy.com) was hosted online in three waves, revealing Americans' desire for home purchases, how they feel about and live in their homes, and what changes they'd like to see as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first wave took place April 23-30, 2020, with a nationally representative sample of 3,001 consumers 25-74 years of age with household incomes of $50,000+. The second wave took place September 24-November 6, 2020, with 3,935 responses, and the third wave took place October 6-31, 2022, with 3,000 responses. The America at Home Study was spearheaded by community design and marketing expert Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki of tst ink, consumer strategist Belinda Sward of Strategic Solutions Alliance, and architect Nancy Keenan, president of DAHLIN. The second and third waves were further enhanced with Kantar's MindBaseTM consumer attitudinal and generational segmentation, providing deeper insights across 12 unique consumer targets.
1 Modular Building Institute: https://www.modular.org/2023/02/24/one-federal-code-for-modular-construction/
2 U.S. DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy "Carbon Emissions in a Typical New Production Home: A Case Study," February 2023