Green Building Elements: Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)

December 27, 2008

Fast becoming staples of the green building industry are pre-assembled structural insulated panels, or SIPs, which replace conventional framing and offer greater energy efficiency, reduced lumber usage, and quicker construction.  SIPs are polystyrene foam sandwiched between oriented strand boards that provide structural framing, insulation, and exterior sheathing in one piece.  They can be used as floors, walls, and roofs and provide much greater energy efficiency than insulation in stud walls with an R-value improvement of 15% to 40%.  The oriented strand boards are made from wood of fast growing trees and emit very low levels of urea-formaldehyde.  The polystyrene foam can also consist of recycled content.

Architects submit the building design directly to the SIPs manufacturer who then build them to specifications and deliver them on-site, ready for immediate installation.  Openings such as doors, windows, and skylights can come pre-cut and the work done at the factory significantly reduces on-site waste.

Builders who are seeking ENERGY STAR ratings can save money on the certification process by using SIPs.  They will not need to perform a blower door test or a duct blaster test.

The pictures are from Philadelphia’s PostGreen, who are attempting to build a green home for $100,000.  Read about their project here.

Some SIPs resources:


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