Earth Day is an opportunity to discuss how humans can live in harmony with our planet while still being human – living in homes, learning in schools, consuming and also commuting for pleasure or business. This profoundly simplified summary of human activity encompasses a huge swath of society and the occupied space of the old and young. The majority of us have hereditarily washed our hands of nomadism and have embraced the idea of returning to our home where we sleep in our bed with the comforts of our chosen consumer materials. However, it is the expectations of a home – or any structure we inhabit for long periods of time – that are developing along an eco-conscious path creating a more harmonious relationship between building industry and planet.

Result-Driven Building Codes

Mediums from all platforms have touted the need for abrupt change in building practices to combat the frivolous waste of resources and to embrace more practical, readily available sustainable building solutions. The 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) requires buildings to improve efficiency by 9.4% and reduce GHGs by 8.7% over the 2018 IECC. The now 11 energy efficiency compliance options (IECC 2018 only offered 8) are intended to provide flexibility to achieve the code’s energy savings targets. 

The energy efficiency compliance options that become more easily attainable when building with SIPs are below in bold:

  • More efficient HVAC performance
  • Reduced lighting power
  • Enhanced lighting controls
  • On-site supply of renewable energy
  • Dedicated outdoor air systems
  • High-efficiency service water heating
  • Enhanced envelope performance
  • Reduced air infiltration
  • Energy monitoring system
  • Fault detection and diagnostics
  • Efficient kitchen equipment

Panelized construction ensures SIPs are precisely designed resulting in a more airtight building envelope. This means minimal leaking and more comfort, all while being more energy efficient than alternative building materials.

Community-driven Construction Changes

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) began the Blueprint for Better campaign in 2021 to engage design professionals at all levels to transform the day-to-day practice of architecture to achieve a zero-carbon, resilient, healthy, just and equitable built environment. Millennial homeowners are increasingly more interested in sustainably built homes, naturally driving this campaign among residential living while taking root at the commercial level requires renewed ingenuity.

Economy-driven Environmental Changes

In conjunction with Blueprint for Better, the AIA’s Architecture and Design Materials Pledge encourages conscientious evaluation of products and finishes. Architects can truly impact GHG reduction goals by considering materials based on extraction practices, embodied and operational carbon as well as impact on the circular economy. This pledge also aligns with the human health and social equity objectives of Blueprint for Better with an emphasis on how material manufacturing communities are impacted socioeconomically.

It is refreshing to see and be a part of a building technique that is aligned at its core with these reputable and meaningful campaigns. This level of advocacy and professional collaboration will create the momentum the building industry needs to brighten the future. Higher expectations throughout the built environment are possible and SIPs can help shape that dialogue.

Check out these quick links below for additional SIP information:
SIP Building science articles and research studies
SIPA’s 10 AIA-accredited CEUs available online
Design Professionals SIPs Homepage