17 Innovative Construction Trends for 2020

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Con­struc­tion trends encourage builders to utilize innovative methods and products that create sus­tain­able, durable, and healthy buildings. Construction trends also help to create a more efficient and safe job site. As builders and archi­tects embrace these trends, they must also struggle with increas­ing con­struc­tion and labor costs.

Construction Industry Trends for 2020

As we enter a new decade, builders should consider these 17 con­struc­tion trends for 2020. The trends fall under six categories: sustainability, health, resilience, construction tech­nol­o­gy, increas­ing con­struc­tion costs, and job site safety

Sustainable Trends

Sustainable building practices reduce the industry’s impact on the environment by limiting carbon emissions and conserving natural resources - like energy, land, water, and raw materials. Reducing carbon emissions helps to maintain good air quality. Poor air quality leads to many diseases, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and dementia. Limiting the use of natural resources can help keep the Earth’s fragile ecosystem in balance and ensure the stability, survival, and existence of the whole environment.

Three sustainable construction trends for 2020 include implementing the whole-building systems approach and selecting sustainable products, like Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICF) and TrueGrid Permeable Pavers.

1. Whole-Building System Approach

The whole-building design makes efficient use of electricity, water, and other natural resources during construction, and also aims to reduce materials and waste.

The whole-building system approach treats the building as a single energy unit in which each system impacts the per­for­mance of the whole-building. Buildings constructed with the whole-building approach are nearly 70 percent more energy-efficient than buildings constructed by conventional methods.

2. Sustainable Fox Blocks ICFs

Fox Blocks ICFs provide a superb wall system product for creating a sustainable building. They are energy-efficient, with a high-thermal mass and an R-value of 23, which contributes towards lowering the carbon footprint. The durability and disaster-resistance of Fox Blocks makes them durable and long-lasting. Moreover, the manufacturing of Fox Blocks does not use gases that deplete the ozone, and the blocks contain at least 40 percent recycled content by weight.

3. Sustainable TrueGrid Permeable Pavers

TrueGrid Permeable Pavers provide an inexpensive and maintenance-free stormwater permeable paving system for parking lots, roadways, well sites, residential driveways, pathways, muddy event parking, emergency vehicle access, and more. TrueGrid pavers have a compression strength of 120,000 lbs per square foot before the addition of rockfill, which adds to the strength of the final product.

TrueGrid offers many features that make it a sustainable and eco-friendly building product:

  • Less CO2 emissions over asphalt and concrete production.
  • Returns the same amount of clean water to the community as it uses in its production
  • Contains ultraviolet stabilizers and remains dimensionally stable in extreme hot or cold environments - both features that make it durable and long-lasting.
  • Utilizes microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and yeast, to degrade hazardous substances into less toxic or non-toxic substances.

Healthy Trends

In 2020, commercial, residential, educational, and gov­ern­ment structures all demand healthy building design that furnishes a comfortable, safe, and productive indoor envi­ron­ment for its occupants. Two vital elements of healthy building design include superior indoor air quality (IAQ) and indoor sound quality (ISQ).

4. Excellent Indoor Air Quality

In 2020, a crucial design trend involves ensuring excellent IAQ. Three essential design features for creating good IAQ include an application of a high-performing air and moisture barrier (to stop the growth of mold), the use of non-toxic building materials, and proper ventilation.

Fox Blocks ICFs Help Ensure Excellent IAQ

Fox Blocks creates an air- and moisture-resistant solid continuous monolithic concrete wall, with a perm rating below 1.0. The two layers of continuous interior and exterior EPS insulation, along with the concrete, provide vapor and air barriers on both sides of the wall, which stops moisture accumulation within the wall and the growth of unhealthy mold.

Fox Blocks do not contain volatile organic compounds VOC, which further promotes excellent IAQ. Of concern, VOCs can cause many health issues, including headaches, nausea, damage to the central nervous system, and liver, and eye, nose, and throat irritations.

5. Indoor Sound Quality

In 2020, the design of new homes and buildings should create quiet and pleasant spaces. Unwanted noise infringes on privacy, adds stress, and reduces the quality of life for the occupants. A con­struc­tion trend in 2020 includes effective ISQ.

Fox Blocks Create Optimal Acoustic Spaces

They lessen sound transfer from outside to inside, which improves the occupant's comfort and productivity. The Fox Blocks Series obtained a high ASTM E90 Sound Transmission Classification (STC) rating of more than 50.

Resilient Design Trends

The recent dev­as­tat­ing impacts from hurricanes and tornadoes demand storm-resistant design in all new construction. In 2018, Hurricane Harvey damaged 203,000 houses, destroy­ing 12,700. The same year, the Camp Fire in Butte County, California, killed 85 people and destroyed 14,000 homes.

In 2020, con­struc­tion trends must include flood-, wind-, and fire-resilient construction. In addition, many new homes and buildings will need to include a safe room or shelter.

More and more schools, churches and community centers across the country are looking for resilient designs to protect the occupants and are turning to ICFs.

6. Flood-Resistant Design

A vital construction trend for 2020 includes flood-resistant design, par­tic­u­lar­ly in flood hazard zones. Flood-resistant buildings protect against heavy rains, storm surges, and tides. A flood-resistant design includes elevated struc­tures, products that can get wet, and design assem­blies that easily and quickly dry when exposed to moisture, like Fox Blocks ICFs.

Fox Blocks Produce Flood-Resistant Buildings and Homes

Fox Blocks solid continuous monolithic concrete walls provide moisture-resistance and permeability (perm rating below 1.0). Fox Blocks make sure that moisture that infiltrates the wall system dries out and won’t move on to nearby materials. They won't degrade when wet and maintain their original integrity and shape during and after a flood.

7. Wind-Resistant Design

To hold a structure together during severe wind events, the design of a wind-resistant building or home must include a con­tin­u­ous load path. A con­tin­u­ous load path protects a structure against loads, including uplift and lateral (hor­i­zon­tal) loads. The continuous load path ensures that loads move from the roof, walls, and other elements to the foun­da­tion and finally into the ground.

Wind-Resistant Fox Blocks

Fox Blocks reinforced concrete walls offer a superior solution for creating a continuous load path that can resist severe wind events during tornadoes and hurricanes. They will maintain their integrity during severe winds of over 200 mph and can resist projectile debris traveling faster than 100 mph.

8. Fire-Resistant Design

In the United States (U.S.), 4.5 million homes are at high or extreme risk of wildfire - making fire-resistant design a critical building trend in 2020. A fire-resistant design includes passive fire protection that limits the spread of smoke and fire and protects the structural components to prevent the building from collapsing during a fire emergency.

Fire-Resistant Fox Blocks

Fox Blocks provides the perfect solution to producing passive fire protection and limiting the spread of smoke. Fox Blocks have a fire-resistance rating (ASTM E119) of 4 hours for the 6-inch blocks and 2 hours for the 4-inch blocks. Fox Blocks also provides ASTM E84 reported values for flame speed of less than 25 and smoke development of less than 450.

9. Including a Safe Room

With nearly 1253 tornadoes attacking the U.S. yearly, the design of community spaces, homes, and small businesses should include safe rooms. Safe rooms can help ensure the safety of the occupants from the severe wind forces of tornadoes and hurricanes.

Fox Blocks Safe Rooms

Fox Blocks ICF provides a superior product for a FEMA approved safe room. Fox Blocks ICF safe rooms meet and surpass the standards for a FEMA safe room construction and design for a continuous load path and impact resistance.

Construction Technology Trends Continue to Transform the Industry

In 2020, technological advancements in the construction industry help builders combat daily challenges, as well as more complicated problems.

10. Drones

Drones offer the building industry a quick, precise, and cost-effective way to obtain an aerial view of the building site, which permits more accurate surveying and mapping of a job site.

11. Automated Technology

In time, more and more building companies will turn to self-driving vehicles for construction projects. Caterpillar manufactures a driverless truck for mining operations, which increases productivity and cuts costs.

12. Augmented Reality (AR)

Architects use augmented reality to put together 3D versions of their blueprints. The 3D versions make it easier to pinpoint structural errors or miscalculations and also gives the architect an accurate idea of the final look of the project. Fox Blocks has a full library of BIM details available.

Increasing Construction Costs

In 2020, the rise in labor and material costs in the building industry is challenging contractors to find innovative ways to reduce overall building costs. The increase in building costs since 2014, reached a high point in 2018 of 5.7 percent. Most building professionals attribute the construction cost increases to a labor shortage and material costs.

13. Increasing Labor Costs

In the U.S., 80 percent of contractors report problems finding skilled hourly workers. To combat this issue, two-thirds of the companies have increased base pay, and 29 percent have offered bonuses and incentives to attract skilled laborers.

Fox Blocks Provides a Solution to Increasing Labor Costs

Fox Blocks ICF construction provides a solution to rising labor costs because Fox Blocks ICF needs less labor and requires less time to build than concrete masonry units (CMU) walls or wood-frame construction.

Fox Blocks also provides contractor training for the installation of the product and placement of concrete.

14. Increasing Material Costs

Building material prices continue to rise. In 2016 prices rose by 2 percent, in 2017 by 2.9 percent, in 2018 by 4.9 percent, and in 2019 by 1.7 percent. Many blame the increase on the tariffs set by the Trump administration.

15. Modular and Panelized Construction

Modular construction offers a solution to increasing labor expenses due to worker shortages. Modular con­struc­tion reduces building time over conventional methods, like concrete,on-stick built, or metal, by more than 50 percent.

Modular construction has several disadvantages: limited design options, finance difficulties, and the problems associated with traditional stick-built homes, like disaster-, termite- and fire-resistance, diminished IAQ, moisture intrusion, noise control, and low thermal mass.

Improving Jobsite Safety

A vital construction trend in 2020 involves improving safety for con­struc­tion workers. In 2016, out of all industries, private construction reported the highest number of fatal injuries.

16. Safety Meeting Mobile Apps

Safety-meeting mobile apps improve safety by providing workers a means to quickly produce safety data and conduct safety meetings from the job site. These apps can save money and time, prevent injuries, improve account­abil­i­ty, and enhance compliance with OSHA.

17. High-Tech Safety Attire

Exoskeleton Suits

Exoskeleton suits help workers lift heavy objects with minimal effort - and can reduce muscle fatigue by up to 60 percent. The exoskeleton suit can reduce back injuries and improve the overall health and safety of the industry.


SmartBoots improve communication and safety. Smartboots connect to Wi-Fi and notifies others if the user falls or gets tired. They also provide quick and automated alerts about unsafe environmental conditions and improve overall job site awareness.

Construction Trends for 2020

These 17 construction trends are paving the way for 2020. To talk more about how ICF can be incorporated into your 2020 plans, contact a professional at Fox Blocks today.