San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex Located in the northern San Joaquin Valley in a vast tract of wilderness outside Los Banos, Calif., the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex encompasses nearly 45,000 acres of wetlands, grasslands, and riparian habitats, as well as more than 90,000 acres of conservation easements on private lands for the protection and benefit of wildlife. The USFWS wanted to build a new visitors center for the refuge as well as relocate its existing office nearby to the preserve. The agency hired Arizona firm Catalyst Architecture to design the nearly 17,000-square-foot facility, which the agency required to target net-zero energy and LEED Platinum certification.

Click here to read the full article from Architect The AIA Magazine issue September 2012 describing this Overall Competition Winner.


Freehill - Consolidated Building Center, Energy Panel Structures, Inc.


  • 8" SIP walls
  • 22" tall SIP walls
  • Insulated exterior doors
  • Vinyl windows
  • 29 gauge zinc-coated galvanized steel exterior

Why judges like it:

  • Good example of what you can do with SIPs
  • Significant reduction in peak heating loads by using SIPs
  • Represents an opportunity for farm owners across the nation to save money on heating costs

SIP Mechanic Farm Shop Melvin IL

Commercial / Industrial / Institutional

San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex - Catalyst Architecture, Premier SIPs by Insulfoam


  • 4", 6", 8" and 12" SIP walls, 8", 10" and 12" SIP roof panels
  • LEED Platinum
  • Net Zero Energy
  • Passive solar design
  • Recycled, reused and regionally harvested materials

Why judges like it:

  • LEED Platinum is extremely difficult to achieve
  • Used regional and recycled materials
  • Architecturally intriguing
  • Excellent example of sustainability

SIP Wildlife Refuge Complex Los Banos CA

Honorable Mention Commercial / Industrial / Institutional

Finn Hill Junior High School - Mahlum Architects, Premier SIPs by Insulfoam


  • 6" SIP walls and 10" SIP roof
  • 47% more efficient than ENERGY STAR target
  • Net Zero Energy ready design
  • High Performance glazing
  • Mechanical sun shading devices on windows
  • 13 rain gardens treat 80% of site runoff

Why judges like it:

  • SIPs part of detailed energy conservation strategy
  • Designed for future addition of solar panels
  • Energy monitoring incorporated into student’s curriculum

SIP Middle School Kirkland WA


Coventry Senior Living - DBA Architects, Energy Panel Structures, Inc.


  • 6" SIP walls and 10" SIP roof
  • HERS index 48
  • Energy Star Qualified
  • Air source heat pump
  • In-floor radiant heating
  • Low VOC paints and carpets

Why judges like it:

  • Nice design – mixture of materials and styles
  • Energy performance - low HERS Index
  • Good airtightness on a complex design

SIP Senior Living Facility Mahtomedi MN

Renovations and Overall Competition Runner Up

Single Family Retrofit - Vujovich Design Build, Panelworks Plus, Inc.


  • 4" retrofit insulated panels
  • Improved air infiltration from 8.26 ACH50 to 3.97 ACH50
  • 50% reduction in total utility cost
  • Spray foam around rim joist
  • Attic insulated to R-50
  • New low-e windows

Why judges like it:

  • Innovative use of SIPs
  • 50% reduction in energy costs
  • Excellent method of improving efficiency of existing housing stock

SIP House Retrofit Minneapolis MN

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

Lemke Residence - Energy Panel Structures, Inc.


  • 6" SIP walls and partial 10" SIP roof
  • HERS Index 32
  • 0.75 ACH50
  • Geothermal heat pump
  • Energy Star Qualified
  • Spray foam used on roof
  • 2" XPS Insulation on basement walls
  • Salvaged interior doors and stained glass

Why judges like it:

  • Attained a good HERS Index largely through good building envelope construction
  • Impressive blower door test results
  • Excellent balance of energy efficient features
  • Classic, repeatable design


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

Newman Residence - Mackey-Malin Architects, The Chuba Compnay


  • 6" SIP walls
  • HERS Index 7
  • 1.01 ACH50
  • Spray foam roof insulation
  • Vertical loop geothermal HVAC system with energy recovery ventilator and humidistat
  • Solar generation
  • Thermomass foundation

Why judges like it:

  • Why the judges liked it:
  • Good blower door test results
  • Well planned site design and solar orientation
  • Sustainable - used existing foundation
  • Low HERS Index

SIP House Brooklyn Center MN

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

Hudson Passive Project - Dennis Wedlick Architect LLC, Timberline Panel Company, LLC


  • 12" SIP walls and 12" Neopor SIP roof
  • HERS Index 52
  • Certified Passive House
  • 0.15 ACH50
  • Passive solar design and operable skylights
  • HRV and two air source heat pumps
  • Serious 725 series windows

Why judges like it:

  • “Simple but elegant design”
  • Incredible air tightness
  • Lots of sustainability features
  • Simple detailing
  • Excellent performance

SIP Passive House Claverack NY

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

Barrel Vault - R-Control SIP/BIG SKY, Wickiup Builders


  • 10" and 12" SIP walls and 12" SIP roof
  • HERS Index 22
  • Curved SIPs
  • 0.17 ACH50
  • Off the grid: 4kW solar system and three 1kW wind turbines
  • ICF basement
  • Radiant heating with wood-fired boiler

Why judges like it:

  • Innovative design
  • Creative use of SIPs
  • Excellent air tightness

Curved SIP House Ennis MT