Innovative 2009 Projects Using SIPs

The Structural Insulated Panel Association (SIPA) recognized five of the most energy-efficient and unique buildings constructed with structural insulated panels during 2009 at the SIPA Annual Meeting & Conference in Chicago, Illinois. Now in its eighth year, the SIPA Building Excellence Awards highlight innovative projects using high performance structural insulated panels (SIPs) as the basis for energy-efficient, green buildings.

To be eligible, all entries must use SIPs for at least 50% of the building envelope. Entries were evaluated on energy efficiency, design and structural engineering innovation, and other SIPs-related factors that contributed to the overall success of the project.

Las Vegas architecture firm SSA Architecture took top honors as the Overall Competition Winnerand winner in the Commercial/Industrial/Institutional category with the Jacob E. Manch Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada. SSA succeeded in reducing energy use of the 68,000 sq. ft. school by 50 percent over the Clark County School District’s typical construction methods without increasing the construction budget. Working with SIP manufacturer Premier Building System sand dealer/distributor Shell Building Systems, crews were able to dry in the building in just 90 days, knocking 50 to 60 percent off of the construction schedule. The school is 100 percent daylighted and uses off-perpendicular walls to mitigate noise reverberation from a nearby Air Force base. Students are encouraged to learn about the energy and water saving aspects of the school’s construction through several Building as a Learning Tool stations positioned throughout the building.

SIPA added a new category for SIP renovations this year and the inaugural award was claimed by Greentech Construction for applying SIPs to a salvaged 1862 timber frame. GreenTech dismantled and then reassembled the complete timber frame from a nineteenth-century farm house and clad the home with SIPs from Insulspan. The resulting 6,000 sq. ft. home has a geothermal heating system and a heat recovery ventilator,resulting in a HERS Index of 40. 

An honorable mention was awarded in the Single Family Homes Under 3,000 sq. ft. category to Timberline Panel Company for the Brandt/Schaller Eco Home in New Hartford, Connecticut. This extremely energy-efficient 2,700 sq. ft. home has a HERS Index of 4 and uses close to net zero energy over the course of a year.


VanGelder Farm Shop – Energy Panel

Structures Features:

  • 18’ tall, 8” thick plywood-faced SIP walls
  • Radiant heating with modulating boiler

Why the judges like it:

  • Simple, repeatable design
  • Significant energy savings over typical agricultural shop construction

SIP Farm Shop and Storage Sibley IA

Commercial / Industrial / Institutional

Jacob E. Manch Elementary School – Premier Building Systems, Shell Building Systems, SSA Architecture


  • High performance school w/ 50% reduction in energy use over typical district schools
  • 100% day lighting
  • Sound reduction measures to mitigate noise from nearby air base

Why the judges like it:

  • Innovative use of SIPs, design & engineering
  • Used SIP construction to meet tight budget constraints
  • Opening new markets for SIP construction

SIP Case Study Building Green Las Vegas NV

Building Green SIP School Las Vegas NV


Sarann Knight Apartments – Premier Building Systems


  • 4 stories, 82 units
  • Installed in just 80 days
  • Heating & cooling costs reduced by 60%

Why the judges like it:

  • Speed of construction
  • Innovative use of SIPs & engineering

ENERGY STAR SIP Apartments Las Vegas NV


Kelly’s 1862 Timber Frame – GreenTech Construction


  • HERS 57.
  • 6” SIP walls, 8” SIP roof.
  • 1862 timber frame house that was dismantled, moved 15 miles & re-erected on a new foundation.

Why the judges like it:

  • Unique use of SIPs to supplement antique timber frame.
  • Energy efficient.

SIP Case Study Re-imagining Timber Frame Delaware OH

Re-imagined SIP Timber Frame Delaware OH

Single Family Homes - Over 3,000 sq. ft.

Kenilworth Bungalow - Domain Architecture & Design and Panelworks Plus, Inc.


  • HERS Index 49
  • 6.5” SIP walls & 10.5” SIP roof
  • LEED-H Platinum
  • Diverted 67% construction waste
  • 3 rain gardens

Why the judges like it:

  • Well-executed design strategy
  • Repeatability, potential for use in urban infill sites
  • Extremely resourceful and energy-efficient materials

SIP Case Study Kenilworth Bungalow Minneapolis MN

Kenilworth LEED SIP Bungalow Minneapolis MN

Single Family Homes - Under 3,000 sq. ft.

Sampson Family Home - Ferrier Custom Homes


  • HERS Index 47
  • 4.5” SIP walls & 8.25” SIP roof
  • LEED-H Platinum
  • Passive solar design

Why the judges like it:

  • Extensive cost benefit analysis conducted to select energy-efficient technologies
  • Well-integrated, whole building design approach
  • Careful site orientation and climate-specific passive solar design

LEED SIP Country House Cleburne TX

Honorable Mention

Brandt/Schaller Eco Home - Timberline Panel Company, LLC


  • HERS Index 4
  • 6.5” SIP walls & 10.25” SIP roof
  • Salvaged wood, door, cabinetry
  • Passive and active solar design

Why the judges like it:

  • Cost-effective net zero energy design

High Performance SIP Eco House New Hartford CT