Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are high performance building panels used in floors, walls, and roofs in place of typical “stick framed” lumber construction. The SIP green advantage is high energy efficiency coupled with low old-growth lumber content. Factory-controlled production results in low waste, high strength and, more good news – a cost-effective construction method that reduces on-site time and labor.
Sandwiching a core of rigid insulation between two structural skins of wood composite – usually oriented strand board (OSB) – forms panels which interlock together to form a highly rigid building shell featuring extremely low air infiltration, heat conduction and radiation.
Closed-cell rigid insulation keeps air, moisture and heat from passing through the voids and thermal bridges of standard construction.
Solid walls mean:
- no spaces for moisture to accumulate and degrade indoor air quality
- no spaces to harbor rodents or termites
- no spaces to resonate from outside noises
- no spaces to sustain flames
- no hot and cold spots
SIPs were first engineered by the US government for structures in remote locations and extreme environments.
SIP structures provide 2-3 times the strength of typical buildings with superior compressive, flexural, uplift and shear resistance.
As testament to their integrity, SIPs are often used for buildings in heavy snow, earthquake and tornado situations.
For about the same cost as conventional construction, your home will reduce energy bills by about 60% while being highly termite and fire resistant, and preserving environmental resources.
Up-front costs vs. long-term savings is a major issue with many green building technologies. A large investment at the time of construction is often required in order to reap the long-term benefits of energy savings. Some installations break even only in the seventh or eight year.
This usually means that building on a fixed budget (construction loan) requires building a smaller home, or one with more hidden features and less amenities.
Since SIPs are almost on par with stick-built homes and astonishingly more energy-efficient, there is no long wait for payback time, and no sacrificing granite countertops for invisible insulation.
As with any developing technology there are numerous variants on the market today offering a sliding scale of value and efficiency.
At Chalk Hill, we prefer SIPs with polyurethane cores:
SIPs use 35% less wood than typical construction. The use of sustainable wood products and recycling of waste during production further enhance the environmental credentials of this building method.
Heating and cooling equipment can be downsized to compensate for an energy-tight building. This saves not only on front-end costs but year after year too.
Building green is looking better all the time!