Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) elevate the notion of modular residential building to a higher
level of energy efficiency. Homeowners determined on securing a coveted Energy Star home certification should
start with SIPs;
green building practices
start at the beginning of the project.
When Cap and Trade legislation takes effect, energy costs are going to go through the roof.
Theres many things that homeowners can do to control energy usage and
lower power bills.
For new construction this is the place to begin.
Exactly What are Structural Insulated Panels?
The name says it all; this home construction technology is focused on building in a modular fashion.
The panels are first designed by a building engineer or an architect using construction software.
They are then manufactured in the assembly facility according to specs.
These custom panels are utilized in house roofs, walls, and even floors. The SIP mill constructs
every panel in a sandwich fashion.
The exterior panel surfaces are composed of Oriented Strand Board
(OSB). The core itself is rigid foam plastic insulation.
Dont confuse SIPS with ICFs. ICFs Insulated Concrete Forms are a similar technology, yet stronger.
Theyre hollow blocks constructed with Styrofoam sides.
They are assembled, then wet concrete is poured into the interior of the blocks. This forms the wall.
Things to Consider with New Home Construction
Because the panels are put together at a remote site before being assembled at the construction site,
layout, panel cutting, and traditional wood framing cease to be such an issue. Whats beneficial
One of the primary things is that the structure may be dried in quicker than with traditional
construction. This boils down to less time lost because of rain outs and minimal exposure to wind,
rain, and snow.
The sooner the house is protected from the elements, the sooner inside build-out and trim work can
commence. This means fewer logistics issues for the building contractor. Also, the homeowner has a
better chance of scheduling the eagerly anticipated move-in day.
Whats the Connection Between SIP and Energy Star?
Home construction with SIPs technology may be conceived of as being the preliminary building block (pun
intended) in the quest for Energy Star and LEED certification. These foam core panels will make the
house virtually airtight.
Because of this, the structure may be expected to be conserve least 50% more energy than traditional
residential wood framing.
After the house is completed, it has pass a standardized energy efficiency test to earn an Energy
Star rating. If the test is successful, the house is included in the index referred to as HERS (Home
Energy Star Rating System).
How does the test work? Its comprised of a comprehensive visual review, a door blower test
(to determine the structures air tightness), and then a duct blaster test, which detects leaks in
the houses duct system.
The efficiency test also looks at large appliances. Finally, having energy efficient Energy Star
label windows is a priority.
Take Advantage of Energy Efficiency Tax Credits
In 2005, the United States Energy Policy Act designated energy tax credits for homes that met the
standard. Homes built with SIPs are in this category.
Under the act the credit was $2000!
Energy tax credits have changed with the Obama economic stimulus package, mostly for the better.
Tax credits are designed to lessen the amount of taxes a homeowner owes, whereas deductions
apply to the earned income that is subject to tax.
Energy Efficient Mortgages and Construction Loans
EEMs, or Energy efficient mortgages, are suitable for green home contractor/builders, so
SIPs construction is just what they are designed for. The concept is that the mortgage-holder
feels secure lending a larger amount of money.
Or in todays real estate meltdown, lending any mortgage financing at all.
Because residential utility bills continue to rise at a rapid rate, one can conclude that they will
impose an increasingly painful bite on the homeowner.
However, as stated above, SIPs modular homes can save approximately 50% more than conventional framing.
Simply put, the risk factor on the loan is much lower.
Likewise, as the mortgage market continues to constrict, mortgage-holders will gaze much more
favorably at making construction loans for green, sustainable buildings. Their investment is on a
superior building technology and if they ever have to foreclose, they have a more viable asset.