Academic journal article Cityscape

Adoption of High-Performance Housing Technologies among U.S. Homebuilding Firms, 2000 through 2010

Academic journal article Cityscape

Adoption of High-Performance Housing Technologies among U.S. Homebuilding Firms, 2000 through 2010

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article describes foundational processes of a larger project examining U.S. home builders' choices to adopt innovative housing technologies that improve the environmental performance of new single-family homes. Home builders sit at a critical juncture in the housing creation decision chain and can influence how new housing units change related to energy consumption, and the units they produce can also reflect shifting technology, demography, and policy landscapes. With some exceptions, U.S. home builders have been characterized as being slow to adopt or resistant to the adoption of product and process innovations, largely because of path-dependent and risk-averse behavior. This article focuses on home builder choices by analyzing a summary of innovation adoption literature and that literature's relationship to homebuilding. Researchers then describe analytical approaches for studying home builders' choices and markets at a Core Based Statistical Area level, the data and statistical methodologies used in the study, and the policy implications for promoting energy efficiency in housing. Future work will draw on the foundation presented in this article to specify versions of this generic model and report results using improved quantitative analyses.

Introduction

In the National Climate Assessment, researchers report that the warming of the U.S. climate during the past 50 years is significantly related to human (Melillo, Terese, and Yohe, 2014). They argue that a strong need exists for businesses and individuals to adopt innovative products, processes, and thinking that changes how products are produced and energy is consumed. Failure to move toward these innovations, scientists believe, will result in continued growth in the severity and types of risks to the United States.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reports that the housing stock has been increasing energy efficiency since 1980. Houses built most recently are 14 percent more energy efficient (EE) than homes built 30 years ago and 40 percent more EE than homes built 60 years ago (DOE, 2014). With respect to energy consumption, in 2014, all residential buildings consumed 21.15 quadrillion BTUs (British Thermal Units) of energy, down 1.1 percent from 2010.

From 2005 to 2010, the academic literature focused on climate change doubled in size along with heavy expansion in the range of topics, geographies, and disciplines analyzed (Burkett and Suarez, 2014). One study area has had an expansion of analysis is in regard to innovation applied to issues of environmental change and performance. Innovation can be a powerful lens to process empirical information about changes within markets and can be used as a framework for gaining increased understanding of potential solutions to environmental problems. After more than 100 years of innovation research, scholars can show that adoption and diffusion of innovation are critical forces that build competitive advantage, disrupt existing markets, and create new markets (Christensen, Anthony, and Roth, 2004). Despite innovation being applied to a wide swath of disciplines, until recently, scholars of innovation have not focused a great deal on construction. Few diffusion-ofinnovation modeling techniques have been applied in the commercial construction literature (Kale and Arditi, 2009, 2006, 2005; Rose and Manley, 2014, 2012) and scholars have not regularly experimented with advancing variations of innovation diffusion models within residential building construction or new and existing housing. At the same time, U.S. home builders have been characterized as being resistant or slow to adopt innovation.

In light of these industrial concerns, a substantial opportunity for new analysis exists. This work (and article) sits at the convergence of these topics and serves as a foundational step of a larger project examining U.S. home builders' choices to adopt innovative housing technologies that improve the environmental performance of new single-family homes. …

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