May 31, 2012 – Despite the slow recovery of the U.S. housing market, the structural insulated panel (SIP) industry experienced only a modest decline in 2011, according to a survey conducted by the Structural Insulated Panel Association (SIPA). Based on production data from all 59 SIP manufacturers operating in the U.S. and Canada, the survey shows a drop in total SIP production of 4 percent in 2011, compared to an 8.5 percent drop in single-family housing starts—the industry’s primary market segment. Among SIPA member manufacturers, responsible for 69 percent of all wood-faced SIP production, volume increased 6.3 percent in 2011.
SIPs are a panelized building system composed of insulating foam sandwiched between two structural facings, providing an energy-efficient building enclosure for both residential and commercial buildings. Sixty-seven percent of all SIPs are used in residential buildings. The SIP industry has experienced growth in its single-family residential market share over the last five years and now hovers around 1 percent of the market.
“Like the rest of the homebuilding industry, SIP manufacturers have experienced the ups and downs of the housing market,” said SIPA Executive Director Bill Wachtler. “But the nation’s growing interest in green building and our cumulative increase in market share really prepare the SIP industry for strong growth as the economy recovers.”
Of the 20 million sq. ft. of SIPs produced in 2011, 32 percent went to nonresidential buildings, including schools, retail, and agricultural buildings. Nonresidential SIP production declined 6.3 percent from the previous year. An estimated 1,013 commercial buildings were built in 2011 using wood-faced SIPs. SIP roofs remain a popular option for enclosing space quickly, accounting for 55.2 percent of SIP use in nonresidential construction.
“Architects looking at more rigorous energy codes and green building rating systems are realizing that SIPs can significantly reduce labor costs on large commercial projects,” said Wachtler. “Nonresidential and multifamily buildings remain important market segments with strong growth potential for the SIP industry.”
SIPA’s production survey contains data for SIPs made with oriented strand board (OSB), plywood, or fiber cement facing materials. Of these, OSB accounts for 91 percent of all SIP facings.
The survey also polled SIP manufacturers regarding their geographic distribution. The top ranking U.S. regions for SIP use were the East North Central (upper Midwest), Mountain, and West North Central regions.