Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Structural Insulated Panels in a Green Home

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are helping homeowners cut their heating bills in half.

SIP panels, sometimes known as stress skin panels, are made of an insulating foam core with OSB (oriented strand board) bonded to either side. There are three types of foam cores – EPS (expanded polystyrene), XPS (extruded polystyrene), and urethane (either polyisocyanurate or polyurethane), ranging in R-Values from 13 to 40 (R-value refers to a materials ability to resist transferring heat), far above conventional wall construction with fiberglass or cellulose insulation.

Panels are typically installed vertically on the home walls. Panel connections are fastened with splines or cams and then expanding foam insulation is sprayed directly into the remaining space, sealing the connection and creating a continuous thermal insulating wall for the home. (In a timber frame or post and beam home, the panels are wrapped around the exterior of the timber frame.)

Panel wall R-Values differ according to insulation type and thickness, but all are superior when compared to conventional construction. Walls made of 2x material with fiberglass or cellulose insulation have a reduction in R-Value at every stud, but panel walls form a continuous thermal envelope with no reduction in R-Values. This means increased energy efficiency, lower heating and cooling costs and a drastic reduction in drafts in the home.

If reducing your energy costs by close to 50% isn’t enough, SIPs provide other benefits; a healthy living environment, reduced construction site waste, design flexibility, fast installation and reduced labor costs, a finish-ready exterior and superior strength to meet wind and snow loads.

For an estimate on building a green home with structural insulated panels, give us a call or send an email describing your project.