Of 3d printing at biofabricated materials, New building technologies have grabbed the headlines as a faster and cheaper way to tackle the global housing deficit, which is expected to affect 1.6 billion people by 2025. These new technologies could also present disproportionate environmental benefits in terms of cut construction waste, while revealing carbon neutral or even negative. This enthusiasm has been very well received, but do these technologies live up to the hype?

While new housing technologies can help reduce waste and GHG emissions, they are unlikely to dent the global housing crisis unless accompanied by other changes. In fact, manufactured homes have been around since the early 1900s in the United States, popularized by Sears, which has sold tens of thousands of affordable housing “kits”. A century later, prefabricated housing technology is still seen as an innovation that has yet to take off. The reason may lie in the fact that construction is only one piece of the housing puzzle. Here are four things to remember when considering adopting new housing technology to address the global housing crisis:

  1. Focus on the customer by expanding the options available to families. By emphasizing new construction and home ownership, the global housing market has become too standardized. Although standardization is often encouraged to increase production efficiency and reduce costs, a single solution may not be the right answer. Concrete example : MexicoThe mass production of ready-made homes in undesirable locations caused the entire housing market to collapse. Many units are still empty today. Certainly, a market of this size should have more choice. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of adaptability in housing: being able to add or subtract walls, for example, or arrangements that could adapt to the needs of remote work. Beyond building new homes, many families need access to simple repairs or improvements to their existing homes. Estimates show that two-thirds of the buildings that exist today will be there by 2050, exhibiting both structural and environmental issues, in addition to other features affecting the quality of life. The good news is that the technology is already available to address these issues: 3D scans map informal settlements; machine learning software is used to support country efforts and field inspections to efficiently and cost-effectively identify buildings at risk of collapse. Newer technologies, such as light reflective paint and low cost structural renovation These techniques can go a long way in making homes safer and greener.
  2. Design innovative financing. Today, many households around the world cannot access a formal mortgage because they work in the informal economy or do not have formal land titles. Proof of income and down payment requirements also block access to mortgages. Innovations in fintech will help secure informal incomes and enable households working in the informal economy to benefit from a housing loan. In the meantime, explore options such as blockchain technology to secure clean land titles or an innovative use of guarantee funds can enable families with informal and irregular incomes to access credit at reasonable costs and to financial institutions with greater security.
  3. Create innovative housing solutions for those who cannot (or do not want) to buy housing immediately. The Economist called the near-global global focus on homeownership a big mistake, which has only created more inequality and inaccessibility in the housing market. Hire-purchase start-ups are multiplying around the world to meet the needs of this large market. Just as Airbnb has disrupted the vacation rental market, rental platforms can play a key role in supporting low-income households, refugees, and other underserved segments of the population who struggle to find. adequate rental accommodation. In many places, homeowners require exorbitant upfront fees and do not sign a formal contract with their tenants. The disruption of the global rental sector for low-income families can formalize the market, protect the rights and savings of honest tenants, and benefit from government support through housing assistance programs or guarantee funds for reduce or eliminate initial deposits.
  4. Promote long-term policy changes. The barrier to housing affordability is often linked to the high cost of urban land, which makes single-family housing expensive. In emerging markets, the issue can be more complex as urban plans are poorly implemented, infrastructure is strained and land titles often unavailable. These problems make land serviced, well located and titled prohibitively expensive and force households to live in precarious areas without access to drinking water or security of tenure. Developers are building homes far from city centers where land remains relatively cheap, extending commuting and infrastructure even further. Urban policies that encourage the strategic allocation and formalization of land, transport, green building, while leveraging proven and cost-effective technological solutions, can create liveable and sustainable cities. Mexico and Colombia have learned this lesson and have since revamped their policies to ensure that new housing investments support urban regeneration, sustainable construction and home improvements. At the end of the day, the the greenest house built in the suburbs is even more polluting than a classic urban house. To truly reduce housing costs and its environmental footprint, construction technology cannot repeat the same housing designs and mistakes that made our cities unsustainable in the past.

Technology is always looking for a problem to solve. When it comes to the housing crisis, there are a lot of them. As we embrace innovative building technologies, let’s not forget that housing is more than bricks and mortar. Solving the global housing shortage will also require innovations in policy, finance, urban planning and beyond.

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World Bank Group published this content on June 16, 2021 and is solely responsible for the information it contains. Distributed by Public, unedited and unmodified, on 16 Jun 2021 21:57:07 UTC.

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