Earth Day 2019: Environment-conscious millennials are driving a shift towards healthier living5 minutes
The announcement may have come on April Fool’s day, but Burger King’s new meat-free alternative meal is no joke. On April 1, the home of the Whopper announced it would be testing the Impossible Burger at 59 locations. If the limited launch is a success, the company plans to introduce the meatless Whopper nationwide.
It’s not alone. Environmentally conscious millennials are helping to drive a shift in the way people eat. Although the percentage of Americans who stick to a plant-based diet is small, it is highest among thirty and forty somethings, according to a Gallup poll. Food retailers have noticed. Sales and offerings of meatless foods are rising. White Castle sells meatless burgers and Taco Bell announced it is testing a vegetarian menu.
The millennial influence is broader than diets. Millennials frequently use their buying power to support sustainable and healthy options in all areas of their lives, including their home. Here’s how leaders in the building and construction industry are leveraging new tech to address these trends.
Healthy living will soon be a given
Eco Pulse reports that 66% of Millennials are concerned about indoor air quality (IAQ), and rightfully so. In a single year, a six-room house collects an average of 40 pounds of dust which can be laced with up to 45 toxic chemicals, according to the EPA. And we spend nearly 90% of our time indoors, where pollutants can be 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels.
This generation of tech-savvy, hyper-aware homeowners are expected to outnumber Boomers by next year. Shrewd builders, architects and other home professionals are already shifting their business strategy to serve the needs of this huge contingent of future homeowners.
“In the next 15 years, we are going to see a jump in the number of people wanting a healthy living environment,” predicts Kelly Nemergut, a partner at N2 Architecture. “There’s more knowledge out there, and the younger generations are more aware. They will do their own education, make sure they do what’s best for their bodies, eliminating products that could make them sick. For tomorrow’s consumers, a healthy home will be the price of entry,” she notes.
Green doesn’t always mean clean
Nemergut says a lot of homebuyers want eco-friendly solutions because they’re trendy, but they don’t always think about the health benefits of going green. “Architects and builders must make the connection for consumers that we’re creating better, healthier environments for them and their families to live, play and sleep in.”
As homes are built more tightly to be more energy efficient, there is an unintended consequence of poor IAQ. Years ago, when homes were built with less concern for energy efficiency, there were lots of opportunities for fresh air to enter the home and flush out the stale, contaminated air. Ventilation just happened – automatically – with air finding its way in through cracks around windows and doors, electrical receptacles, joints between walls, ceilings, and floors.
With energy efficient homes, the indoor air needs to be managed to ensure what you’re breathing is clean and pure. Studies have shown that indoor air in airtight homes can contain up to 10 times more Volatile Organic Compounds than outdoor air. VOC’s can create serious health consequences, especially for young children or those with asthma or other health challenges.
Data to assess your home’s health
A new crop of home improvement specialists are using technology – and the data gleaned from it – to assess a home’s health and make sure the residence “works well as a whole.” Home performance pros can come in and test air quality, moisture, air flow pressure and heat flow to see where inefficiencies exist. Clients are presented with actual scientific results in addition to solution recommendations, so they know where in their home to spend their money and time, and can measure how much improvement was made.
From blower door, duct tightness and exhaust fan flow tests to infrared thermal scans of enclosures, savvy contractors are already using home performance testing to prove – with hard data – that their work is better than the competition. Test results also enable contractors to guarantee their work for a very long time.
The number one goal of home performance, according to one specialist, is to give clients control of their environment and predict what’s going to happen, from how their basement will feel next winter to how much how carbon monoxide their babies are going to be breathing five years down the road.