High-performance construction trends in 2020

High-performance construction trends 2020 you should know

What the experts say you should expect.

It’s a new year, and with it comes new trends. As we hit the ground running in 2020, I wanted to get a pulse on what industry experts believe we can expect for high-performance construction trends in 2020. What’s the dirt, so to speak.

As Yogi Berra once said, “The Future ain’t what it used to be.”

I can think of no other place that’s more true than the construction industry (ok, that might be an exaggeration).

But the construction industry is having its growing pains and it’s seeing remarkable skill, craftsmanship and ingenuity come out of all areas of the industry. So, I hit the ground running and dialed up some experts. Read on to learn what the experts say you should expect to see in the construction industry in 2020.

Michelle Apigian: Icon Architecture

Michelle Apigian, architect, construction industry

“I believe that the key to building truly high-performance is airtightness continuity, which can’t be evaluated without testing.

The majority of our buildings are not being tested, because it has not been required in most contexts, and is therefore considered an unnecessary added expense. However, we are encouraging owners to consider the value of understanding where there may be weaknesses so that we can address them and ensure the building performs as intended.

Proper air barrier installation requires attention to detail and craft. It’s not just about the product and how much it costs. It’s about how easy it is to work with, how many steps are required and the sequencing. We need to demonstrate that we value the work that each trade is contributing, and in so doing, empower them to execute effectively.

High performance buildings are critical to addressing climate change, but also an opportunity to reinvigorate the building sector and the trades, who are critically important to our success.”

How to reach Michelle:

Mike Cairns: Innotech Windows + Doors

Mike Cairns, window rep

“In terms of important skills in the next year, we’re going to see an increased need for energy advisors as new building codes and rigorous standards are being implemented. We’re also going to see an increase in air sealing specialists who are dedicated, knowledgeable people who can apply concepts and oversee an air sealing strategy.

These positions will become absolutely critical in the future. Large commercial projects are learning the hard way that building the way they have always built will not meet new standards.

Trades in general are going to start investing in continuing education in ways they never expected. Plumbers probably never expected taking an air sealing course.  But changes are coming, and we are on the cusp of this transition and air sealing is really coming into play when it never mattered before.”

How to reach Mike:

Foster Lyons: Foster Lyons Building Science

Foster Lyons, building science expert

“12 months isn’t a long period of time; I don’t see any world changing inventions in the next 12 months. However, I do think we will see a lot more of the same. Less of others.

In terms of more of the same, one of the biggest impacts on high performance building and passive house is the speed at which knowledge is being transferred between experts and beginners and people who want to be practitioners. This knowledge transfer is being driven by social media. It’s happening on platforms like LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram with experts like @buildingsciencefightclub and others who provide huge volumes of useful and important information. 

It’s easier these days for new practitioners to quickly come up to speed vs even 5 years ago. 5 years ago you had to buy a book, go to a conference and it was time and money intensive. Now you can sit in your PJs as you sip coffee and you can learn how to build a high-performance structure. This is a significant change that will only increase over the next 12 months.”

How to reach Foster:

Zack Semke: Passive House Accelerator & Zola Windows

Zack Semke, Founder of Passive House Accelerator to boost passive house construction

“There is unprecedent concern about climate change right now. A poll released this week reported that the percentage of Americans concerned about climate change has tripled from 2014 to 2019. That number dwarfs the number of Americans who disregard climate change. With Greta and the climate marches on the national, state and city level we are seeing more and more jurisdictions step up to the plate and understand that buildings are a really big piece of how we can go about reducing climate impact.

In the next year, we are going to see decision makers, activists and people who are trying to make change looking for solutions in the building space and one of those is passive house.

The accelerated awareness of passive house and uptick in policy making means that we’re at the tipping point where passive house is going to become the norm.”

How to reach Zack:

Sandro Stefanucci: Abstract Homes and Renovations

Sandro Stefanucci, Builder Construction

“The industry is going to catch up to the demand for higher performing homes in 2020. Manufacturers are coming out with more products for high-performance homes and this trend is going to continue to meet market demand. Canada has been 20-30 years behind other countries with the availability of higher-performance products. I think we’re going to see more push from builders to get the products we need to meet consumer’s demand for energy-efficient buildings. Already we’re seeing a shift in the market – we’re seeing products with greater R values, better clip system for exterior insulation come out. The tech is really going to catch up and be available for the average builder to build a high-performance home without having to go to specialty suppliers.”

How to reach Sandro:

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Avatar for Jessica Kumor

Jessica Kumor

Jessica is SIGA North America's Marketing Director. It's her job to deliver you the latest research and practical tips for building air and weathertight buildings. When she's not interviewing customers and posting about building science you can find her refinishing furniture.

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