I’m not immune to the unease inherent in flying from my home in Chicago to anywhere during a pandemic. Still, I was excited for the International Builders’ Show/Kitchen & Bath Industry Show—known collectively as Design & Construction Week (DCW)—that took place in Orlando, Fla., in early February, so I booked my tickets and hopped on a plane.
In this case, excitement outweighed apprehension. After a two-year hiatus, I was eager to attend DCW in person. And the show didn’t disappoint.
Foremost on display this year was the turnout: DCW attracted over 1,200 exhibitors and more than 70,000 visitors (about the same as the Super Bowl). And I heard the phrase, “It’s good to be back” used to the point of cliché. But that much was expected. Less expected was how young the crowd was, or at least appeared—which was encouraging, as 57% of the builder membership of the National Association of Home Builders is 55 or older.
From packed young-professionals meetups to students from the University of Denver on the Show Village stage earnestly speaking about exciting new products and the growing use of Environmental Product Declarations, fresh faces were a hallmark of this year’s show. Among my own favorite product discoveries was a glow-in-the dark floorboard from Glowry, a company founded by Carlos Mongalo, an early 30-something who also helped launch the National Flooring Contractors Apprenticeship Program.
But fresh faces weren’t the only thing new at the show; the thinking is changing, too. There was a clear focus on health and wellness, as well as on energy efficiency. Popular topics included antibacterial coatings, indoor air quality, optimizing home electricity (check out Span’s smart electrical panel, if you haven’t already), and making solar more accessible (see GAF’s nailable solar shingle). There’s a shift in the way home builders and remodelers think about these, and other, topics: they’re no longer wish-list items but are increasingly an expectation among homebuyers. The underlying mantra is: “Build smarter, cleaner, and more efficiently.”