Wondering what 2011 might bring about in the housing industry? Predicting the future is never easy; it's a far simpler thing to look back on the past year's economic ups and downs, professional triumphs and failures, and trends in design and construction.

Luckily, some people in the know—from outside as well as inside the design and home building professions—have focused their vision enough to get a glimpse of the concepts, movements, and trends we may see develop, continue, or evolve during the coming year.

The green design-minded editors of Inhabitat asked some of the most prominent thinkers and practitioners in sustainability for their 2011 predictions for green design. Notable architects and architecture writers such as William McDonough, FAIA, Michelle Kaufmann, AIA, LEED AP, William McDonough + Partners' Kira Gould, and Treehugger.com's Lloyd Alter, along with several others, contributed a variety of fascinating prognostications. McDonough predicts that "the pace of change will quicken and that Cradle to Cradle ripples will widen." And Kaufmann thinks there will be a backlash against greenwashing, big builders will finally shift to green building, and net-zero homes will become so mainstream that net-positive will become the new aspirational goal. Read all 12 individuals' forecasts here.

ra's sister magazine BUILDER drew on the past year's experiences to project into 2011 and identify housing design trends that everyone in the industry should plan for and watch. In addition to smaller, more practical houses, BUILDER reports growing interest in back-to-basics design features, urban-light developments in the suburbs, more bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate multigenerational households, greater use of panelized construction methods, and mix-and-match interior finishes (read more about these predictions). The magazine also offers up ideas for residential design trends we won't see in 2011.

Green building consultant and researcher Jerry Yudelson, founder of Yudelson Associates and author of multiple books on green building and sustainability, also has shared his forecast for green building in the coming year. In addition to the further acceleration of the movement around the world, Yudelson believes 2011 is the year that LEED and Energy Star ratings will lose their competitive advantage, and that designers and builders will instead strive to achieve net-zero energy performance. Disclosure of actual building performance, rather than modeled performance, will be the fastest developing trend, he predicts. Yudelson also expects increased implementation of water conservation strategies, and he thinks the focus of the industry will shift from new construction to greening existing buildings. Read all 10 of Yudelson's 2011 green building predictions on his blog.

New York–based global marketing communications firm JWT, via its JWTIntelligence think-tank, released a forecast for 2011 with a much broader scope, but many of the predictions contained within its "100 Things to Watch In 2011" report apply directly to housing and design. Many of the trends predicted reflect sweeping cultural and technology shifts, and some signal smaller changes that run counter to typical consumer behavior. Among JWT's top 100 predictions: 3D printers will become more mainstream for creating everything from jewelry to homes; more widespread use of bamboo as a material in buildings, kitchenware, fabrics, etc.; greater incorporation of biomimicry into architecture and everyday products; more accurate green claims and less greenwashing; increased usage of home energy monitors and management systems; increased investments in smart infrastructure; more repurposing of neglected urban spaces into landscapes and parks; and stricter green building standards.

JWT also recommends keeping an eye on the doings of enterprising young architect Bjarke Ingels, who recently opened a New York office for his Copenhagen-based firm, BIG.

What are your predictions for residential design and building in 2011? Share your thoughts in our LinkedIn Group discussion on the topic.