Can the Solar Industry Create a Sustainable House that appeals to Baby Boomers Looking to Age in Place?
HBN team is designing and building a house that unites modern construction practices, energy-efficient appliances, home automation technologies, renewable energy systems, and passive design strategies.
The result will be a sustainable home that is well-adapted for the harsh Chicago climate and minimizes its impact on the surrounding environment.
House by Northwestern (HBN) is Northwestern University’s first-ever entry to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, a competition that “challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.”
With the solar industry targeting baby boomers, HBN’s target customers are wealthy Baby Boomer couples aged 55-65 years old who plan to live in the Chicago North Shore area. This segment is generally still working at least part-time, are recent empty-nesters, and are looking to downsize from larger homes they own.
This population is looking to age in place: this means their homes must be able to accommodate varying ability statuses and challenges that come with aging.
While the demand for a house that meets these requirements is growing, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University estimates only 1 percent of the current housing stock is suitable for people to age in place—the other 99 percent lacks accessibility features.
HBN has done a great deal of research to find out what users wanted in a house with sustainable features that is also beautiful, healthy and comfortable. Through HBN’s user research, they have seen that when looking for a home, their target customers value comfort and livability, high-performance with functionality, and easy home maintenance; sustainability is often less important to them
Technology offers a great solution to this dilemma. Companies looking to sell these types of homes should consider Dataman Group’s GreenAware list, that overlays commitment to sustainability on top of the target age and income information to insure that they are reaching out to the best prospects for this offer.