LEED Massive SIP School Cherokee NC

Location: Cherokee, NC

Project Information

Project Type: Commercial, Other Commercial
Manufacturer: Insulspan
Builder: PanelWrights, LLC.
Design Professional:
Year Built: 2007


High Performance: Yes
HERS/EUI Index Score:
ACH50 - Blower Test Results:
CO2 lbs./sq.ft./year:

Awards/Certifications: Building Excellence Awards, LEED Platinum, Silver

BEA: 2009 Commercial Winner

Structural Insulated Panel Association member Panelwrights, LLC, installed structural insulated panels (SIPs) on what is the largest SIP building ever constructed in the U.S.  Panelwrights, a W.Va based SIP distributor and installer, installed SIPs on a 494,224 sq. ft. school in the Eastern Band Cherokee Indian Nation in Cherokee, N.C.  The architect of record for the project was Padgett and Freeman Architects, PA, Asheville, N.C. The General Contractor of the project is BE&K Building Group of Greenville, S.C.

The school handle kindergarten through 12th graders in 16 separate “pods,” or separate structures with walkways.  Fourteen of the buildings use 8¼-inch SIPs for exterior walls and all sixteen buildings use 10 ¼ -inch SIPs for roofs, creating an energy efficient building envelope.  A total of 376,000 sq. ft. of SIPs will be used on the project.

A growing body of recent research is focused on building high performance schools that save energy and provide an environment conducive to learning.  In addition to reducing the energy use of the schools, an airtight SIP building envelope allows for better control of indoor air quality—creating a healthy environment for students. 

Panelwrights Project Manager Wayne Hess said that SIPs were chosen for the school based on their green building characteristics and the project architects aimed for silver certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

In addition to producing a high performance building, Hess says that SIPs will reduce the building’s overall construction time.  “The panels are large and go into place quickly,” Hess said.  “A small, well trained crew can cover a lot of space in a day.”

The Panelwrights crews installed prefabricated jumbo panels as large as 8’ x 24’ over the building’s structural steel frame.  In place of a drop ceiling, all HVAC, sprinkler systems and lighting will be installed directly to an exposed SIP ceiling.  All electrical wiring, including data lines, runs through the exterior SIP walls using precut channels called “chases.”  Although Hess says this is unusual, it demonstrates the flexibility of structural insulated panels in accommodating various mechanical and electrical schemes.

Affiliated Members

Insulspan SIPs

Blissfield, MI
PanelWrights, LLC
Shenandoah Junction, WV


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