Sustainability has met its maker in SIPs

Structural insulated panels (SIPs) are tailor-made, flexible in design and benefit all parties from ink to dirt to door. Few other products address budget, environment, resource, and fundamental housing concerns in a single package. SIPs distinguish themselves from other off-site construction techniques being engineered for strength allowing for open floor plans, architectural creativity and aesthetic appeal which make both professionals and homeowners proud.

The vast creative freedom of SIP projects is shown annually during SIPA’s Building Excellence Awards where builders showcase the design flexibility, sustainability and the energy efficiency possible with SIP construction. The average size of a home in the United States is under 3,000 square feet and this project category demonstrates anything but cookie-cutter homes in appearance and performance.

Building Accolades and SIPs

HERS Index Score: 27

While less than 2% of homes being built today are constructed with SIPs, consider that the average size homes sweeping the industry’s building and performance awards are panelized projects.

Controlled manufacturing of SIP panels is the starting point for hundreds of LEED Certified, Zero Energy Ready, Passive and Energy Star rated homes. The builder/homeowner transaction is hinged on a budget, design flexibility, and now more than ever, sustainability efforts. Sheri Koones, author of the Prefabulous book series, frequently showcases SIP homes and designs. Koones suggests SIPs as a solution to achieving high performance standards while considering the environmental impact.

A SIP home creates an airtight envelope where builders don’t sweat over meeting building codes, homeowners enjoy controlled indoor air quality and both parties revel in doing well by the environment.

Innovation in Manufacturing

“If you’ve always done it that way, It’s probably wrong.” 
–  Charles Kettering, inventor and engineer

The off-site construction process is an unconventional way SIPs limit climate impact, account for volatile market pricing, and achieve precision-level quality control. Within the Prefabulous books series, Koones explores the rising cost of gas and the commitment to the environment as catalysts to prefab home innovations. Products like SIPs are checking the boxes as a low embodied carbon material that creates a healthier living environment due to their airtight nature. These homes require less onsite labor, and the structure is erected in a third or half the time of a conventional stick-frame project.

Builders and designers desire consistent, reliable building materials. On average, the framing factor of a SIP project demands 70% less lumber than a conventionally built home resulting in a more stable price point.  Various lifecycle analyses point to the positive environmental impact SIP designs achieve in reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and this begins with requiring less lumber. Life cycle analyses also demonstrate that a structure built with SIPs has a lower cost to occupy and own, so homeowners celebrate the savings alongside the design professionals.

A Smarter Product for the Planet

Panelized construction may be a different approach to building our average sized homes but looking at the SIP Project Library is proof of its viability.  No other building method can balance the extraordinary performance, creative freedom and lower lifecycle costs of SIPs. Make the decision to build for the future. SIPA’s Project Library showcases 400+ projects where users can browse by performance attributes, the Building Excellence Awards and other industry awards.

Visit these resource-packed pages and start your SIP builder training today:

Building Education with SIPs Training (10-hour, AIA-accredited online program)

Sustainability and SIPs

SIPs FAQ Brochure