The construction and operation of buildings has a significant impact on the environment. Buildings account for 39% of total U.S. energy consumption and 38% of carbon dioxide emissions. Sustainable buildings use less energy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and playing an important role in combating global climate change. Buildings also use a tremendous amount of natural resources to construct and operate. Constructing sustainable buildings that use these resources more efficiently, while minimizing pollution that can harm renewable natural resources, is crucial to a sustainable future.
Structural insulated panels (SIPs) are one of the most airtight and well insulated building systems available, making them an inherently green product. An airtight SIP building will use less energy to heat and cool, allow for better control over indoor environmental conditions, and reduce construction waste.
Check out these two EPSIA Bulletins (pdf download):
Building with SIPs creates a superior building envelope with high thermalresistance and minimal air infiltration.• Oak Ridge National Laboratory(ORNL) Whole-wall R-valuestudies show that a 4-inch SIP wall (nominal) rated at R-14 outperforms a 2×6 stick framed wallwith R-19 fiberglass insulation.
The major components of SIPs, foam and oriented strand board (OSB), take less energy and raw materials to produce than other structural building systems. SIPs are also fabricated in a controlled environment, allowing for greater efficiency than site-built framing. The NAHB estimates that the construction of a 2000 sq. ft. home produces 7,000 lbs. of waste. SIPs have the ability to drastically reduce the waste generated during construction by using advanced optimization software and automated fabrication technology to ensure the most efficient use of material.
A SIP home or commercial building allows for better control over indoor air quality because the airtight building envelope limits incoming air to controlled ventilation. Controlled ventilation filters out contaminants and allergens, and also allows for incoming air to be dehumidified, reducing the possibility for mold growth.
There are a variety of ventilation strategies that can employed to provide fresh air to airtight homes. These vary by climate, but most are relatively inexpensive and operate on automatic control systems without the need for homeowner action.
SIPs do not contain any VOCs or other harmful chemicals that can affect occupant health. The components used to make SIPs (foam, oriented strand board, and adhesive) meet some of the most stringent standards for indoor air quality.
Learn more about OSB and formaldehyde
Learn more about expanded polystyrene (EPS) and HBCD flame retardants