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Special Event: Overcoming Barriers to Innovation + Attainability in Homebuilding

August 17 @ 12:00 pm - August 19 @ 3:00 pm

Visit the RECAP tab above for event recordings and (key takeaways coming soon).

There’s never been a greater need for innovation.

Half of renters and nearly a quarter of homeowners pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income for a place to live. At the same time, for those who want or need to move, demand far outweighs supply of both new and existing housing, and pricing is through the roof.

Freddie Mac estimates that there is 4 million units in pent up demand as of late 2020. Vacancies have fallen to a 35-year low, creating a shortfall of 1.6 million homes. The gap will increase by another 300K units per year for the foreseeable future, as builders are unable to keep up with new demand. And the majority of unmet need is in affordable and middle-income housing.

How can our industry make better performing housing options more readily available to the public at a market price they can afford, in a way that also makes sense for business? Are there new processes, products and materials, and construction approaches that can help us deliver better homes more efficiently?

Over the course of two half-day sessions, we discussed four key barriers to innovation and high performance and the potential tools overcome them. Scroll down for specific details on each topic and expert bios.

#1: Education: Equipping the industry with the resources required to understand, value and execute innovation.

  • Free people to think differently + progressively about home delivery
  • Ensure training + development programs – and their leaders – are preparing our new workforce (leadership, managers, factory/field crews, designers) to help drive and adopt innovation
  • Ensure the current workforce also has the knowledge + mind space to continually change
  • Provide training that is affordable + accessible
  • Ensure compensation is competitive + supports the continuing education required
  • Determine the effort needed + potential benefits of industrializing the labor force + re-educating the industry from the top down
  • Ensure there’s a big picture view of sustainability – beyond just energy efficiency

#2: Behavioral Factors + Biases: Breaking engrained habits, changing perspectives and paving the way for innovation within the industry, with local government and with consumers.

  • Overcome established preferences and the desire to maintain the status quo
  • Start thinking long-term rather than short-term gain
  • Encourage adoption of solutions that have been proven in other areas of construction
  • Encourage leadership to advocate for + even mandate innovation
  • Leverage success stories to influence the industry + drive adoption
  • Move the focus beyond first cost toward total cost of ownership – taking sustainability, resiliency + energy efficiency into account
  • Communicate benefits to consumers + get them to value what they may not be able to see or get instant gratification from
  • Communicate benefits of innovation to municipalities + get them to allow practices to be adopted in the local marketplace

#3: Risks: Ensuring the value of innovation outweighs the exposure that could result from failure and actively mitigating the risk along the way.

  • Effectively address code compliance + product liability issues earlier in the development process
  • Make sure new innovations are vetted + risks are manageable before bringing them into the mainstream
  • Ensure consumer demand will justify the investment + risks for homebuilders

What are the rewards and incentives for innovation? The most pressing risks for builders and developers? Solution providers?

#4: Fragmentation of the Industry: Driving collaboration, communication and change management throughout the value chain and the home delivery process.

  • Get people to share more openly, while keeping intellectual property in mind
  • Foster collaboration between Design, Construction + developers
  • Foster partnerships + engagement between industry players + with other industries such as automotive + aerospace to drive product, material + process innovation
  • Provide innovation commercialization models that are specific to residential construction
  • Ensure all players in the value chain have easy + equal access to knowledge about innovation

Join us for expert panels and Q+A in each area followed by working group sessions, where you’ll be an active participant – sharing your own ideas and insights.

This event is being co-hosted by RNN Architects and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), with support from the Housing Innovation Alliance. The focus is solutions for driving availability + attainability in market rate housing, and HUD will be leveraging the insights of expert panels and attendees to determine what actions could be taken in the short and long-term within HUD and among their numerous strategic partners.

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Event Speakers:

Branka Minic


Building Talent Foundation

Mitch Rotta

Director of New Construction


Sam Ruben

Chief Sustainability Officer + Co-Founder

Mighty Buildings, Inc.

Andrew McCoy

Professor and Director

Virginia Center for Housing Research

Christopher Fox

VP of Architecture + Building Science

Van Metre Homes

Karima Simmons

Director of Development + Communications

National Housing Endowment

Mackenzie Aron

Vice President of Investor Relations

Taylor Morrison

Bill Rectanus

Vice President of Homebuilding Operations

Thrive Home Builders

John Guilliams

Partner + Director of Design

KGA Studio Architects

Scott Reichensperger

Vice President of Residential Technology Implementation


Carolina Albano


Build Perspectives Podcast

Tyler Pullen

Doctoral Student

Terner Center for Housing Innovation

Gregory Heller

Executive Director, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority

Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation

Mark Babcock


Colorado Homebuilding Academy

Heather Voorman

Program Manager, Housing Finance

National Association of Homebuilders

Anthony Grisolia

Managing Director, Innovation Programs


Chris Spelke

Senior Developer

Denver Housing Authority

Don Jahnke

Energy Consultant

Extreme Panel Technologies

Nol Browne

Founder + Chairman

ADL Ventures

Tripp Shealy

Associate Professor

Virginia Tech

Greg Zick, MA, CAE

Assistant Vice President, Workforce Development



August 17 @ 12:00 pm
August 19 @ 3:00 pm

Event Recordings:

Having technical issues?
Day 1 | August 17
Opening Remarks + Education Panel Discussion

Our expert panel kicked off a discussion on how to equip the industry with the resources required to understand, value and execute innovation. Watch the panel here then find the Q&A portion below.


  • Greg Zick, MA, CAE, Assistant Vice President, Workforce Development, NAHB

Expert Panel

  • Mark Babcock, Instructor, Colorado Homebuilding Academy
  • Branka Minic, CEO, Building Talent Foundation
  • Tyler Pullen, Doctoral Student, Terner Center for Housing Innovation
  • Mitch Rotta, Director of New Construction, Tricor
Behavioral Factors + Biases Panel Discussion

Watch the panel discussion on how to break engrained habits, change perspectives and pave the way for innovation within the industry, with local government and with consumers. Then find the Q&A portion below.


  • Karima Simmons, Director of Development + Communications, National Housing Endowment

Expert Panel

  • Mackenzie Aron, Vice President of Investor Relations, Taylor Morrison
  • Christopher Fox, VP of Architecture + Building Science, Van Metre Homes
  • John Guilliams, Partner + Director of Design, KGA Studio Architects
  • Gregory Heller, Executive Director, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation
  • Tripp Shealy, Associate Professor, Virginia Tech
Day 2 | August 19
Opening Remarks + Risks Panel Discussion

The expert panel focused on what we need to do to ensure the value of innovation outweighs the exposure that could result from failure and actively mitigating the risk along the way. Watch the discussion here then find the Q&A below.


  • Sam Ruben, Chief Sustainability Officer + Co-Founder, Mighty Buildings, Inc.

Expert Panel

  • Carolina Albano, Host, Build Perspectives Podcast
  • Anthony Grisolia, Managing Director, Innovation Programs, IBACOS
  • Bill Rectanus, Vice President of Homebuilding Operations, Thrive Home Builders
  • Scott Reichensperger, Vice President of Residential Technology Implementation, MiTek
  • Chris Spelke, Senior Developer, Denver Housing Authority
Fragmentation of the Industry Panel Discussion

Watch the panel discussion on how to drive collaboration, communication and change management throughout the value chain and the home delivery process. Then find the Q&A below.

Expert Panel

  • Nol Browne, Founder + Chairman, ADL Ventures
  • Andrew McCoy, Professor and Director, Virginia Center for Housing Research
  • Don Jahnke, Energy Consultant, Extreme Panel Technologies
  • Heather Voorman, Program Manager, Housing Finance, National Association of Homebuilders