Monday, May 5, 2008

Building Green with SIPs

My last post was about building green, which is really hot right now. I've been doing more research on the topic and it seems to be like more fuel efficient cars - research and development, as well as implementation, really kicks in when the economy makes it an attractive concept.

Which is totally correct; we live in a market-driven economy. It's interesting how much ado is made of pollution today without reflection on how much progress has been made in the past fifty years. Can you believe it; we used to have rivers that would spontaneously break into flames?

So we have moved forward. The trick is to keep moving ahead. Kudos to the building industry for making strides forward.

A very innovative new combination of building materials and building technology are SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels). The idea is simple - foam insulation sandwiched between two sheets of OSB (Oriented Strand Board).

The panels are designed and sized using residential construction software and the assembled off site. Once they're delivered to the new home or commercial building site, they're put together and taa-dah! You've got an almost completely air-tight structure.

Isn't it much more expensive than conventional building methods? Surprisingly, no. The streamlined process improves building flow and saves on labor (think framers). It also minimizes wasted material (cut-off sheathing, 2" X 4" studs, etc). Nobody likes to pay for extra dumpster-pulls!

Using SIPs puts the home or commercial building on the fast track to Energy Star certification. The final hurdle is to get more building contractors up to speed. But never fear, the innovators are busy doing that right now.

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