Recent years have seen increasing consumer interest in healthy homes — a term that refers to products and services marketed for making residential dwellings and their external environment healthier and safer places to live. With families spending more time than ever within their homes due to safety concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the connection between health and everyday environmental exposures in their homes.
What is the definition of a “healthy home”?
According to the National Center for Healthy Housing, a “healthy home” is defined as a household that is dry, clean, pest-free, ventilated, safe, contaminant-free, maintained, thermally controlled, accessible and affordable. Note that these are the minimum standards that need to be met for a residence to count as a healthy home. New research indicates that to support the holistic health of individuals, the whole community needs to engage in a wellness lifestyle. This demand is promoting the construction of homes and buildings that are proactively designed for this purpose.
Healthy home technologies encompass a variety of systems that include environment quality improvement products, smart sensors, IoT, and other smart home technologies, and even wearables. Any product that optimizes the home environment, provides accessibility for the elderly and the differently able, or incentivizes exercise and active lifestyles may be considered a healthy home technology.
What are the key drivers of the healthy home market?
Consumer demand for wellness lifestyle real estate and associated communities is on the rise globally. In the United States, there have been 1.3 million potential buyers each year since 2016. In addition, homes designed to improve people’s wellness have 10-25% higher price premiums.
Multiple drivers are contributing to this growing trend in consumer and industry investment in the healthy home market.
Consumer needs and household health awareness:
The Farnsworth Group’s 2018 Healthy Home Study found that 29% of homeowners and 35% of renters were concerned about the health risks posed by their homes. Indoor air quality was the top concern, with 75% of households expressing dust, pet dander, and cooking-related air pollution being brought up as the most concerning factors. Moisture, mold, dust, pests and water quality were other major concerns.
Additionally, the survey found that millennials, teenagers, and households with an associate degree or higher have an increased awareness of the origins of the products they use. Young mothers are also increasingly aware of the health impacts of the home environment of their babies, due to the prevalence of allergies and child asthma. Increased moisture and toxic products are top factors encouraging families to seek the products that are less harmful. As shown below, the 25-34 age group expressed the most concern over the effects of their homes on their overall health.
More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused people to spend significantly more time in their homes, and this, in turn, is greatly increasing awareness and interest in ensuring that the home environment is healthy and safe.
Wellness communities are gaining popularity:
Demand to provide facilities such as sidewalks, public exercise facilities, and design features that provide more opportunities for exercise in future real estate is rising, as it is far more economical to achieve a wellness community than it is to make wellness-centered renovations in existing homes.
According to the Global Wellness Institute, the market size of wellness real estate grew at an annual growth rate of 6.4% between 2015 and 2017 and is projected to grow at a rate of 8% between 2017 and 2022.
The market size of wellness real estate grew at an annual growth rate of 6.4% between 2015 and 2017 and is projected to grow at a rate of 8% between 2017 and 2022. Source: Global Wellness Institute.
In the current COVID world, individuals have to be proactive in protecting the health of not just their own, but their fellow community members as well. Hence, individuals are coming together with wellness as a common goal, and there is a growing transition of individuals into lifestyles centering on wellness communities, or “we-centered” communal living, in buildings and homes that are not only sustainable and healthy, but also have a net-zero carbon footprint, reducing their impact on the environment.
The costs of unhealthy homes:
Healthcare spending in the US is the highest in the world. The CDC states that chronic diseases add up to $3.5T in annual healthcare expenditure. Many of these diseases stem from unhealthy lifestyles, which are often encouraged in unhealthy homes and come at a cost of $8T in annual spending.
The Green and Healthy Homes Initiative states that over $100B in taxpayer funding is spent each year to address the impacts of unhealthy home hazards:
- Asthma: $81B+
- Slip-and-fall injuries: $31B+
- Lead poisoning: $50.9B+
They also provide the following estimates for annual emergency visits due to unhealthy housing:
- Injuries: 40M
- Asthma: 1.7M
- COPD: 1.5M
- Influenza: 1.2M
- Heat stroke: 4,100
Additionally, 30 million families currently live in unhealthy homes, resulting in:
- 14.2 million missed school days by students due to asthma
- 14.4 million missed work days by adults
Healthy homes are the future of healthy communities:
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problems of unhealthy home conditions, with an estimated 150 million people forced to shelter at home.
With such grave consequences of unhealthy homes, significant investment in human health through healthy homes as preventive measures can no longer be delayed. Future design and construction of homes and neighborhoods need to be centered around human health and wellness as the default approach, and not as an added luxury.
This article is based on our report titled “Consumer Interest In Healthy Homes: Market Overview and Key Techs.” The full report can be accessed here.
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