Using alternative building and insulation materials can go a long way in boosting your home’s “green factor.” Structural insulated panels, composite building panels used for walls, floors and roofs, have been touted as an energy-saving option, compared to a conventional framed building. Before opting for a SIP-constructed building, consider the pros and cons of SIPs’ cost, quality, and of course, environmental impact.
What is a structural insulated panel? An SIP consists of firm polymer foam sandwiched between two layers of structural board—either made of sheet metal, plywood, cement or oriented strand board.
What are the environmental perks of structural insulated panels? SIPS use less timber than conventional panels. They are lighter than conventional panels, thus saving energy, making for easier transport (and indirectly reducing transportation energy) and, as they are pre-fabricated off-construction site, reducing construction-site waste.
SIPs are typically known for good structural integrity, moisture and temperature control and higher insulating properties. Their tighter building envelope means less air can get into and out of the house, allowing for less extensive heating and cooling within. This, in turn, makes for a smaller energy output.
Other benefits of using SIPs: In addition to their high-quality composition, SIPs make for relatively quick construction times. Because of their pre-fabricated and standardized nature, SIPs require less building time than a typical frame home as well as fewer on-site workers.
Once the foundations of a house are laid, a tight construction can be put in place within a matter of days.
The strong, yet light, construction of SIPs make them easy to use for versatile purposes—as floors, walls or roofs. SIPs as floors can be particularly useful in retaining warmth when used above an uninsulated space below.
The downside of using SIPs: SIPs are more expensive than the cost of materials for a comparable framed house. However, shorter construction times, lower operating costs and reduced heating and cooling costs could make the overall costs of building a house with SIPs lower than building with a conventional frame.
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