Research Papers

The Changing Socioeconomic Context of Buildings

[+] Author and Article Information
Clinton J. Andrews

E.J. Bloustein School of Planning
and Public Policy,
Rutgers University,
33 Livingston Avenue,
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING: INCLUDING WIND ENERGY AND BUILDING ENERGY CONSERVATION. Manuscript received June 2, 2016; final manuscript received September 25, 2016; published online October 18, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Patrick E. Phelan.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 139(1), 011001 (Oct 18, 2016) (10 pages) Paper No: SOL-16-1250; doi: 10.1115/1.4034911 History: Received June 02, 2016; Revised September 25, 2016

This paper examines demographic, economic, and sociotechnical trends to the year 2050 that will shape future demand for buildings. It uses historical data and projections from the United Nations and other authoritative sources. The paper finds that it is likely that there will be more people, hence more or larger buildings in some regions. People are living and working longer, older people are becoming a macroeconomic burden, and proportionally fewer children are entering the demographic pipeline, all of which will contribute to smaller household sizes and allow more floor area per person, while also placing a premium on user-friendly and accessible buildings. International and rural-to-urban migration will continue to cause episodic shortages of affordable housing. Continuing urbanization will place buildings in increasingly larger, but not necessarily denser cities. Economic activity and inequality are likely to continue growing, thereby supporting much new building construction, while potentially failing to deliver adequate amounts of affordable housing. The changing energy price mix for buildings is likely to favor electricity. The occupational mix is likely to continue changing, leading some workers to become more mobile and others to enjoy more leisure time, albeit with great disparities across countries and occupations. Flexibility is likely to be prized in future commercial buildings, and residential buildings will continue to be used intensively for both work and leisure pursuits. Smarter buildings will need to remain user-friendly for occupants, even as an emerging transhumanism augments personal capabilities. Each of these factors will influence the amount and qualities of shelter we will require, the home/workplace split, the functions required of future buildings, and the energy and environmental footprints of buildings.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME
Topics: Structures , Cities
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.



Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

World population projections to 2050. Source: from Ref. [26].

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Regional population projections to 2050. Source from Ref. [27].

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Projected median age to 2050 by region Source from Ref. [28]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Projected old age dependency ratio to 2050 by region. Source from Ref. [29].

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Projected net migration rate to 2050 by region. Source from Ref. [34]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Projected proportion of population living in urban areas to 2050 by region. Source from Ref. [37].

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Projection of percentage of urban population to 2050 by size class, Source [41] with linear extrapolation by author from 2030 to 2050

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Declines in urban density (persons/hectare) for 25 cities 1950–2050. Source based on Ref. [42].

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 9

Gini coefficients showing income inequality for selected countries from 1950 to 2050. Source: Historical data from Ref. [49], with projections by author. Average projection is quadratic (R2 = 0.20) and represents mean of 187 countries. Individual country projections are either linear or quadratic and their R2 range from 0.17 (China) to 0.95 (USA). A higher Gini coefficient indicates more inequality. A hypothetical “Equity” scenario for the world, not based on curve fitting, is also shown to suggest an alternative trajectory.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 10

OECD average annual hours actually worked per worker in 2000 and 2014. Source: Data from Ref. [64].

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 11

U.S. Occupational employment from 2004–2024. Source: Data and projections from Ref. [70,71]




Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In