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From across the globe

From across the globe

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The big topics affecting housing globally, along with new innovative products, were key features at the 2023 International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

Laura Valic

Editor

Inflation, skills shortages, open-source tools, energy policies, digitisation and housing affordability were the big topics in the spotlight at the International Housing Association (IHA) Annual Meeting, held in Las Vegas in February. HIA represented Australia at the forum, which included delegates from housing associations around the world, such as Japan, US, Canada, Israel, Peru, Norway, Ireland, Thailand and Taiwan.

Here, member countries could address globally significant priority areas, common concerns and share strategies about engaging with governments on policy and regulatory issues.

The celebration begins at the International Builders’ Show (IBS)
IBS is a super-sized event full of product showcases and business session

Simon Croft, HIA Executive Director – Building Policy & Services, says decarbonisation and the move to the electrification of buildings was a key discussion point this year. ‘Everyone is facing similar sets of challenges for housing in their countries,’ he says. ‘Like Australia, they’re all looking at energy efficiency stringency changes, particularly in the US where states like California are pushing forward a range of green energy policy reforms.’

Simon adds that several countries are concerned about the looming challenge of sustaining a skilled workforce to keep up with demand. ‘A big focus for countries around the world will be on how to boost numbers of workers in the building industry,’ he says. ‘The impact on rising interest rates, ongoing concerns with housing affordability and declining home ownership rates were other key issues that were common across each country in attendance.’

Around 70,000 visitors took part at IBS. Photo: Oscar Ein zig
Daring colour schemes ‘are being used everywhere’, says HIA’s Simon Croft

Standouts from the show

Delegates were also invited to attend the International Builders’ Show (IBS), a super-sized three-day event full of product showcases and business sessions for residential construction professionals. Around 70,000 visitors descended on the Las Vegas Convention Centre where more than 1300 exhibitors used the networking event to reveal innovative material and product ranges, from solar batteries and EV charging units to everything currently available in smart home technology.

With energy regulations ramping up in the US, products to improve energy efficiency in buildings took up a lot of floor space. ‘There were large ranges of different types of insulation and wall wraps,’ says Simon, who was on the ground at the show. ‘How they build cavities and air spaces into the walls was interesting, with 140mm wide studs and wall sheathings commonly used in US housing.’

When moving towards the kitchen and bathroom exhibitions, Simon says he was blown away by the use of colour. ‘It’s being used everywhere – in splashbacks, benches, cabinetry and tapware. There were sinks in green, yellow or red as well as a huge range of copper fixtures. The use of timber in tapware was an example of how manufacturers are experimenting with textures and materials.’

Some of the other eye-openers were the oversized appliances. ‘The ovens and fridges were 1200mm wide and showcased with enormous copper or timber rangehoods. With COVID, it seems people are spending more time at home and it’s having an impact on design trends. These are real entertaining spaces they’re creating.’

'The New American Home 2023’ by architect and builder Michael Gardner
The sprawling two-storey, luxury exhibition home has strong sustainability credentials

Housing tour

As part of the event, a housing tour through ‘The New American Home 2023’, located just outside the city, was available for building professionals. Australian expat Michael Gardner of Luxus Design Build was the architect and builder for the net-zero project dubbed ‘Byron Bay’ and described as ‘Vegas sophistication’. The sprawling two-storey, luxury exhibition home has strong sustainability credentials with a focus on biophilic design.

Simon says the indoor/outdoor connection was so powerful it was hard to know where the house started. ‘You were immediately met with huge pivot doors, 1.5 metres wide by three metres high, but as you walked through them, you entered a courtyard,’ he explains. ‘This allows the open-plan kitchen, dining and living area to be completely opened up to the outdoors. A customised stacker glass door system with six two-metre-wide panels could be configured in a number of ways.’

Throughout five ensuite bedrooms, and multiple flexi spaces, layered effects and finishes were integrated with organic materials and warm neutral tones. ‘The level of detailing was incredible,’ Simon says. ‘There were concealed door hinges and concealed drains on the balconies which I thought were quite innovative features. I also liked how the upstairs balustrade was made from leather straps. It was all tastefully done.’

The exhibition home showcases cutting-edge design and technology in both construction methods and use of materials.

Products improve energy efficiency in buildings. Photo: Nick Hagen
'It seems people are spending more time at home and it’s having an impact on design trends’

Excited for IBS 2024?

If you’re interested in getting a look at some of the new building trends being released to market and forging connections with international manufacturers and suppliers, then consider heading over to IBS 2024.

Next year’s event will again be held in Las Vegas between 27-29 February 2024. Registrations open 1 September this year. Visit IBS for more information.

First published on 23 March 2023

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