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DCD (Design Cost Data) January-February 2016 (article exploring SIPs construction benefits)

SIPS Stand for
Structural Insulated Panels and So Much More

Structural insulated panels (SIPs) are a high performance building system consisting of an insulating foam core sandwiched between two structural facings, typically oriented strand board (OSB). SIPs are manufactured under factory controlled conditions and can be fabricated to fit nearly any building design. The result is a building system that is extremely strong, energy efficient and cost effective. Building with SIPs will save time, money and labor.

Green Buildings & SIPs. It’s All About the Energy
Buildings account for 39% of total U.S. energy consumption, 38% of carbon dioxide emissions and up to 40% of a home’s heat loss is due to air leakage.

SIPs create a superior building envelope with high thermal resistance and minimal air infiltration which prevent heated and cooled inside air from infiltrating outside in an uncontrolled manner. In fact, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Whole-Wall R-value studies show that a 4-inch SIP wall (nominal) rated at R-14 outperforms a 2x6 stick framed wall with R-19 fiberglass insulation.

SIPs Saves Resources
SIPs are also fabricated in a controlled environment, allowing for greater efficiency. The National Association of Home Builders estimates that the construction of a 2000 sq. ft. home produces 7,000 lbs. of waste. SIPs have the ability to drastically reduce the waste generated during construction by using advanced optimization software and automated fabrication technology to ensure the most efficient use of material.

Not only that but, the wood used to sandwich the insulation in a tradition SIP is made from oriented strand board, or OSB, which is manufactured from fast-growing, underutilized, and often less expensive wood species grown in carefully managed forests. The OSB manufacturing process is also very efficient and results in very little scrap. In fact, about 85-90 percent of a log can be used to make high quality structural panels, and the remainder – bark, saw trim, and sawdust – can be converted into energy, pulp chips or bark dust.

And the traditional insulating core material expanded polystyrene, or EPS, it is a lightweight and composed mostly of air. Only 2% of EPS is plastic. Over the lifetime of a house, the EPS insulation used in SIPs will save many times the energy embodied in the petroleum used to make EPS. Scrap EPS generated during the manufacturing process can be recycled into new EPS products.

Are Structural Insulated Panels More Expensive?
Building with SIPs generally costs about the same as building with wood frame construction when you factor in the labor savings resulting from shorter construction time and less jobsite waste. Other savings are realized because smaller heating and cooling systems are required with SIP construction.

For more information on SIPS please visit www.sips.org.

Article originally published by DCD (Design Cost Data)


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