A fundamental expectation for a family is to live in their own home. People want and need a safe, secure place to raise their young, as with most animals. Often one hears the phrase ‘four walls and a roof’ as the mantra for starting families.
While a home can consist of a huge variety of shapes and forms, one thing is common; the starting family prefers a brand new home. This is quite reasonable as often their parents live in their birth home and often with other family members. Let’s consider the consequences. The starting family’s new home obviously entails a large amount of energy and material to construct. Once constructed, it requires energy and material to maintain. Globally about 36% of a $17T construction industry is residential. Assume that the global GDP is on the order of $80T. Thus homes or residences contribute almost 8% to this; a strong indicator of the effort going into homes. And with the human population ever increasing then the number of homes also continues to increase.
How will this desire for a new home play out? There are over 7 billion people on Earth. And many more to come. If on average a family has 6 people in a home then this population needs over 1 billion homes. A current estimate puts the value at 1.6 billion households. A well maintained home can last for 50 years. Thus, every 50 years we will need to expand energy and resources, i.e. maintain the construction industry to rebuild 1.6 billion homes. And make and maintain new ones for the ever expanding population. Can the Earth support this? Will there be enough energy available to maintain and grow this?