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Insulspan SIPs

Insulspan® SIPS used for an Artist’s Energy Efficient Studio
An artist unleashes his creativity to design a three-story addition with Insulspan® SIPs

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Artist Brian McKelvey is nationally recognized for his realistic caricatures of college town pubs and cityscapes. When it came time to create a custom art studio on his lakefront property in St. Johns, Michigan, McKelvey dreamt big—designing a three-story studio and library connected to his home with an elevated causeway.

“I wanted to create a space you didn’t want to leave,” he said. “I designed it down to the inch. It’s  been a dream in progress.”

McKelvey selected the Insulspan® Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System for the walls and roof of his new 3,262 sq. ft. studio. Finalizing the plans brought McKelvey into a collaborative relationship with Insulspan’s in-house design department.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA“I got to visualize the design process really well, and I loved the plans that came to me,” he said. “I needed to see my vision, and Insulspan helped make that a reality.”

Insulspan SIPs also provided McKelvey with superior energy efficiency and comfort due to their solid core of rigid foam insulation. Without the gaps in insulation, thermal bridging, or air leakage common in traditional wood framing, homes built with Insulspan SIPs maintain a more consistent temperature and a comfortable
indoor environment.

“Being high up, I wanted to have the warmest environment,” said McKelvey. “Insulspan SIPs gave us faster construction and a sturdier feel to the structure.”

“In the future I will build again, and I will use Insulspan,” he added.

“It was a pleasure to work with such a creative homeowner and help him realize his vision using the Insulspan SIP System,” said Insulspan Blissfield Sales Manager Aaron Hinde. “Now he has a studio that is comfortable, quiet, and energy efficient.”

Find out more about Insulspan SIPs at http://www.insulspan.com

 

Nineteenth Century barn gets new life as the timber frame for an energy-efficient home

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

For a pair of ambitious Michigan homeowners, the conception of their new, cutting-edge home began not on drafting board, but 80 miles away from their building site with an abandoned 1840s barn outside of Fowlerville, Michigan.  The aging structure was built using a traditional mortise and tenon timber frame that they felt was worth preserving as the skeleton for their new, energy-efficient home.

Crews meticulously disassembled the barn and erected the salvaged 34-foot-tall timber frame at the new building site.  But the antique timbers required additional structural support and a full building enclosure system to complete the home.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA The homeowners chose the Insulspan® Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System for the walls and roof of their new 2,500 sq. ft. home.  Prefabricated Insulspan SIPs provided a structural building enclosure and insulation in a single step, saving labor and reducing construction costs.

“Insulspan SIPs were cheaper than the competition and we needed to have structural support for these old timbers,” said the homeowner.

Another major consideration for the homeowners was energy efficiency. With a core of continuous rigid insulation, Insulspan SIPs deliver better effective thermal resistance because they avoid thermal bridging at wood studs. Adding to the efficiency of the SIP building enclosure, the homeowners installed a ground-coupled heat exchanger that draws pre-tempered incoming air through a tube buried in the ground, taking advantage of the consistent temperature of the soil.

“We liked the long term benefits of the Insulspan SIPs,” said the homeowner.  “We expect to have very low heating and cooling costs with the geothermal system and the building envelope.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA“It was a privilege to be involved in the construction of a unique home like this,” said Aaron Hinde, Insulspan Blissfield Sales Manager. “The addition of Insulspan SIPs really helped reduce heating costs, making this beautiful home more sustainable and affordable to live in.”

Learn more about Insulspan SIPs at www.insulspan.com

Follow us on twitter @InsulspanSIPS or @InsulspanSIPSCa

Insulspan® SIPS Prove Integral to Award-Winning Energy-Efficient Establishment

MEC-North-Van---Insulspan-SIPs[1]August, 2014

A national program of Sustainable Architecture & Building Magazine and the Canada Green Building Council recently awarded eight (8) projects the Canadian Green Building Award for exemplary sustainably-designed buildings in Canada.

The Mountain Equipment Co-op Store in North Vancouver was one such project. Using Insulspan Structural Insulating Panels (SIPs) for the walls and roof, along with other sustainable design considerations, MEC was able to develop a sustainable structure worthy of the prestigious award from the Sustainable Architecture & Building Magazine.

The judges for the award commented about the structure, saying “A beautiful building with impressive performance – as a retail facility that needs to attract and engage customers. The site development and integration with the park is carefully considered. MEC raises the bar every time it develops a new store.”

The Insulspan SIPs made this unique design possible while still providing the thermal envelope and sustainable attributes that continue to be an important element to the MEC organization. Insulspan SIPs provide superior energy efficiency, improved air quality, strength and security, with a commitment to high quality sustainable building solutions.  MEC also chose Insulspan SIPS for a retail store in Ontario and its head office in Vancouver.

Read more about the MEC Project in our Project Profile: http://www.plastifab.com/pdf/how-to/project-profiles/MEC%20North%20Van%20-%20Insulspan%20SIPs[1].pdf

To view the award, visit: http://www.sabmagazine.com/blog/2014/06/04/2014-award-winning-project-mountain-equipment-co-op-store-north-vancouver/

 

Insulspan

For more than 30 years, Insulspan has led the industry in the development and manufacture of structural insulated panels. Insulspan SIPs have been named the number one green building product by the editors of Sustainable Industries magazine. In the words of the judges, “Not all SIPs are created equal, and Insulspan is the best.” Insulspan continues to pursue innovation in structural insulated panel fabrication and performance.

For more information on Insulspan, visit www.insulspan.com

 

PFB Corporation

PFB® manufactures innovative, high-quality insulating building products and technologies that, when used as components of a building envelope, enable residential and commercial structures to be highly energy-efficient. We are experts in geotechnical application of our products. Our core competency is our expertise in expanded polystyrene foams (EPS). We are the only vertically integrated EPS company in North America; which as a consequence, provides us with technical expertise positioning us in a unique leadership position in the EPS industry.

For more information, visit www.pfbcorp.com

Insulspan® SIPs help homeowners create an energy-efficient and durable Michigan home

powamo houseWhen building a custom two-story Colonial house, a couple  in Powamo, Michigan began their research by examining alternative building systems that would create a higher quality home than traditional wood framing.

“Before we started building I was looking at alternatives like superior building materials,” said the homeowner.  “We wanted to find something that was better than what everyone else has.”

Their search led them the Insulspan® Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System.  Insulspan SIPs provide exceptional energy efficiency and durability due to their insulating core that is continuous throughout the prefabricated panels, virtually eliminating heat loss caused by thermal bridging at wood studs, gaps, and air leakage.

“I have the satisfaction of knowing I will never have air gaps or insulation settling,” said the homeowner.  “I like the idea that my home is just built better with better materials.”

Insulspan’s industry-leading ready-to-assembly building system also saves time and labor during the construction process.

 

Builders install the Insulspan SIP walls for this southern Michigan homeowner.

Builders install the Insulspan SIP walls for this southern Michigan homeowner.

“The builder was familiar with SIPs, had built his own house with SIPs, and was a huge advocate of the Insulspan System,” said the homeowner.  “The builder nudged me along and removed a lot of his labor costs to not do stick framing.”

“We really like working with builders who understand the value behind the product and how it works,” said Aaron Hinde, Insulspan Blissfield Sales Manager.  “Our Ready-To-Assemble package goes a long way, but a builder who really stands behind the technology and building system makes the project a success.”

Learn More about Insulspan SIPs at http://www.insulspan.com

 

Building Energy Efficient Walls with Insulspan SIPs
Written by Aaron Hinde

Why is the insulation of your walls so important? Well for starters, 40% of the world’s energy consumption is in buildings. That energy converts to dollars. When building a home you want the most energy efficient method available, and Insulspan SIPs provides an excellent energy efficient solution.

The Insulspan Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System “sandwich” of performance-rated oriented strand board (OSB) structurally laminated to a continuous core of expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation allows you to build and insulate your building in one step. You gain benefits not only from the energy efficiency of the product, but also from the speed of construction, the designed system that is tailored to each project (see Designing with Insulspan SIPs Blog), and a Ready-To-Assemble end product which includes your essential materials such as lumber in one complete package.

Red Wood Terrace by Insulspan SIP by Design
Our design process reduces construction time and improves efficiency. Blueprints for your home are loaded into our computerized factory equipment, where Insulspan SIPs are manufactured to your exact specifications, then delivered to your location as a ready-to-assemble building system.

Energy Efficiency
Higher R-value keeps conditioned air in. The R-value of a wall is a measure of its ability to keep heat from flowing through it. Higher R-value for walls means less heat loss from the interior or gain from the exterior means less energy needed for heating and cooling. The Insulspan closed cavity wall design limits air movement. The continuous core of EPS insulation in an Insulspan SIP vastly reduces air leakage and heat loss, while also allowing better control of indoor air quality.

SIPs under Construction
Insulspan delivers a full ready-to-assemble package for your walls where we do a complete HSB wall layout showing all connection and lumber detailing. The panels are cut with precise CNC equipment to meet specified tight tolerances. The walls come to the job site with all splines, corners and window and door bucking installed to make installation fast and accurate. The top and bottom plates are supplied and installed in the field to make for connections between top and bottoms of the panels. Insulspan cuts all lumber at connection points for the wire chases saving you the time in the field.

Insulspan tries to do everything in the factory setting and throughout design to save you time and money during the installation process. We also use the highest quality of adhesives and material to assure you receive the highest quality product the market can offer.

So in short, by using our structural insulating panel system, you have built an incredibly energy efficient, higher quality wall system.

Tips & Tricks
To see our product in action, and learn some of the tips and tricks used by the pros, check out our YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE604FB4BC11E368B&feature=plcp

SIPs are just one of the methods available to help create the most energy efficient home.

plastifab.com | advantageicf.com | insulspan.com

Insulspan SIPS CanadaEnergy Efficient Commercial Roofing with Insulspan SIPs
Written by Aaron Hinde, Sales Manager, Insulspan Blissfield

This week we are finishing off the commercial structure series with the final product solution blog, covering the roof.  In the previous blog, we talked about PlastiSpan sloped roofing insulation as one excellent solution for commercial roofing. Today I will cover the Insulspan Structural Insulating Panel system (SIPs), another energy-efficient product that uses PlastiSpan insulation as a core material for the SIP. The energy efficiency of the SIP system, paired with the reduced site time and labor requirements make it an excellent all-in-one solution for commercial roof applications.

Insulspan SIPs are a good solution in commercial roofing for many reasons. Since time is money, and BOTH time AND money are important elements to control on a commercial construction site, you want to make sure you are using the best product to help you achieve that.

SIP-RoofSpeed
Roofs built with SIPs combine the tedious labor of framing, sheathing and insulating into an ultra-quick, one step installation process.

Completing your commercial structure with an Insulspan SIP roof is cost-effective due to the speed of completion you are able to achieve. SIPs require less skilled labor, equaling less time spent on-site. The building envelope can be locked up and ready for other sub trades quickly and be secured against theft, keeping costs down.

Insulspan manufactures what is known as jumbo panels; panels that are manufactured in dimensions of 8’x24’. Dependent upon load, SIPs can be designed to achieve spans with reduced spline connections (longitudinal lumber at panel joints) and therefore less overall material in the roof. The maximum span between supports such as beams or rafters will depend on the snow load, the thickness of panel, and the spline connection at the panel joints.

Appealing to architects & Engineers
In addition to the product itself being a good solution for commercial roofing, Insulspan also provides a large library of supporting documents for architects, engineers and specifiers. You can reference SIP code listing, installation manuals, MasterSpec, and even installation and construction details in either PFD or AutoCAD format at http://www.insulspan.com/product_specs/sip_details.aspx

Energy Efficiency
Not only do SIPs save resources in production and minimize waste generation, the high R-value and airtight nature of SIP construction when combined with other energy-efficient elements in the building envelope also reduces the amount of energy used in heating and cooling for the building, an important element when dealing with large commercial spaces.

Insulspan SIPs incorporate a core of PlastiSpan expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation with an R-value of 3.75 per inch. EPS is a closed-cell insulation, which maintains a constant R-value for the life of the product.

Thermal Insulation

The Insulspan SIP System provides airtight roof assemblies with higher effective thermal resistance than other construction methods. These properties allow the Insulspan SIP System to work in concert with other energy-efficient building components like windows, doors, and HVAC systems to reduce heat loss from 40 to 60 percent compared to typical wood-framed construction.

Completing your commercial roof with Insulspan SIPS means much less waste generated at your construction site. With conventional stick framing, several dumpsters full of sawn-off construction materials are hauled to landfills. But at Insulspan, we pre-engineer your entire project. Our computer-controlled, automated production environment means precise measurements and very little material waste in our manufacturing facilities. On-site, wall and roof panels fit together precisely, eliminating framing mistakes and cutting down wood studs to the desired length and throwing the rest away. You’ll save on site clean-up costs and waste disposal fees.

Ready to Assemble
The Insulspan SIP System is an industry-leading COMPLETE ready-to-assemble (RTA) system that gives a real competitive edge over traditional stick frame construction. The roof panels, like wall panels, are marked for location, interior side, and exterior side. In the RTA system, the spline lumber is all installed into the panels, so once you attach your lifting plates (also provided by Insulspan) to the panels, you are ready to fly them in and complete your project, one panel at a time.

So there you have it. A complete, enclosed commercial building, with excellent energy efficiency, high R-values, and completed with the speed and accuracy unrivaled in conventional framing.

Additional Resources:

US & Canada Code Reports: http://www.insulspan.com/product_specs/code_reports.aspx

Installation and Assembly Details: http://www.insulspan.com/product_specs/sip_details.aspx

The Insulspan MasterSpec: http://www.insulspan.com/product_specs/masterspec.aspx

Learn more about Insulspan SIP Roofs @ http://www.insulspan.com/product_specs/product_bulletins.aspx

 

insulspan-cutaway
Multipurpose travel stop marks the gateway to northern Canada
Valleyview, Alberta is often labeled as the “crossroads to Canada’s north.” In fact, an estimated 2 million travelers pass through Valleyview annually, many en route to northern Alberta’s oil and gas industry facilities. It is no surprise that Valleyview is the site for a new one-stop travel centre that will serve as a gas station, full service deli and grocery, and a liquor store for both travelers and locals.

The 8,200-square-foot Valleyview Travel Centre was designed to resemble a turn of the century train station, with a wraparound porch and authentic roof dormers. When builder Todd Teolis of AWP Contractors received the plans for the travel centre, he knew immediately that the hip roof and large dormers posed a framing nightmare.

valleyview travel centre

“To stick frame and insulate the roof wouldn’t have been impossible, but it would have been a challenge,” said Teolis, an experienced timber framer and general contractor based in St. Albert, Alberta.

With his background in timber framing, Teolis knew that the Insulspan Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) system would simplify the roof construction. Insulspan’s time-saving, ready-to-assemble panels arrived at the jobsite pre-cut and labeled for a quick assembly.

“[With SIPs] you can get a building closed-in very quickly and have less labor onsite or need less guys to put them up,” said Teolis. “It is just quicker and easier, and, at the end of the day, about the same price.”

For Teolis, the benefits of Insulspan SIPs extend beyond the productivity gains. Factory quality control ensures a straighter, more consistent product than onsite framing, with better energy efficiency as well. The 10.25-inch SIPs provide an effective R-value of R-36 that virtually eliminates thermal bridging and air infiltration.

Teolis commented on working with the Insulspan sales staff that “they did an excellent job and I would definitely use panels again.”

Stay tuned for next week’s blog on SIP Best Practices in Commercial construction and we continue in our commercial solutions series.

insulspan-cutawayA nature conservancy visitor center demonstrates top notch
energy-efficient design

Building green was never considered optional for Kent and Kathy Lawrence. As the founders of Kickapoo/Mud Creek Nature Conservancy in Oregon, Ill., reducing the environmental footprint of their new Kickapoo Center was a priority from day one. The Lawrences wanted the center not only to serve as a meeting place and house educational displays for the conservancy, but also to set an example for cost-effective green home construction.

kickapoo 01
“We had a specific functional purpose from the beginning,” said Kent Lawrence. “We wanted to get low energy usage and modern day ambient conditions at real market prices.”
To design the 1,200-square-foot center, the Lawrences worked with fellow Oregon resident Victor Zaderej of Solar Homes, LLC. “What I’ve found is that a well insulated thermal envelope is really the most cost-efficient way to reduce energy use,” said Zaderej.
The thermal envelope begins below the ground with 8.5 inches of PlastiSpan EPS insulation beneath the center’s concrete slab. Advantage Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs) were used for the below grade walls. Zaderej then specified the 12-inch Insulspan Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) system for the walls and roof.
“The key was that we eliminated all the thermal shorts,” said Zaderaj. “SIPs and ICFs also do a really good job of sealing the home and stopping heat loss through air infiltration.”
Zaderej used the center as a testing ground for several innovative techniques to reduce energy use. His patent-pending solar roof uses a fan system to transfer the warm air beneath the building’s metal roof to a network of pipes in the concrete floor, where the heat is stored and slowly released. When combined with the efficiency of the super insulated building envelope, no furnace is needed, only a back up heat source powered by the center’s water heater.

Learn more about energy efficiency in commercial construction at www.plastifab.com, www.insulspan.com, or www.advantageicf.com

Insulspan SIPS CanadaInsulspan® SIPs help cut energy use in multifamily housing development
Richmond, Indiana, USA

Insulspan SIP ProjectRedwood Terrace Supportive Housing in Richmond, Indiana offers a supportive housing environment with 24-hour onsite supervision for the mentally and physically impaired. Funding or the 57,000 sq. ft. building was largely provided through the .S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) OME program. But the funding came with strict guidelines for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.

Architect Sam Miller and the design team at ARCHitecture trio took a whole-building design approach to sustainability that included a passive solar design, high performance building envelope and efficient HVAC system.

Red Wood Terrace by Insulspan “One of the things we do from the beginning is think of the entire building as an integrated unit,” said Miller. “For example, if you get a really efficient envelope you can reduce the size of your air handlers.”

Miller specified the Insulspan® Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) system for the walls and roof of the 60-unit building.

“We had some familiarity with Insulspan and thought it would be a really excellent choice to make an energy-efficient building,” he said.

Insulspan SIPs have a continuous core of expanded polystyrene insulation and less framing than wood framed walls with cavity insulation, reducing the effect of thermal bridging through studs. Air leakage rates for energy efficient buildings using Insulspan SIPs will typically be lower—another potential source of energy savings.

The combination of Insulspan SIPs with energy-efficient windows and air handlers achieved calculated energy savings of 40 percent over the 2006 code, according to REM/Rate software. These improvements are projected to save $44,000 annually for nonprofit building owner Centerstone.

Insulspan SIPsRedwood Terrace received the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce Community Improvement Award for its significant improvement to the quality of life in the community.

“With a relatively simple solution of good design, Insulspan SIPs, and energy-efficient HVAC systems, ARCHitecture trio attained tremendous energy savings,” said Plasti-Fab Sales Representative Aaron Hinde, who assisted on the project.

For more information about SIPs visit www.insulspan.com

Insulspan SIPS CanadaA Michigan lakeside homeowner chooses Insulspan SIPs for an energy efficient garage
Looking out over the lake, homeowner Patty Rank realized she wanted a garage to house her family’s boat as well as the vehicles. But not just any garage would do. Patty wanted her garage to be comfortable year round and be up before the snow flies this year. She knew it needed to be energy efficient so her family could hold get-togethers there when the weather at the lake was not ideal.

Her first stop was Insulspan SIPS, the local structural insulating panel manufacturer.

“I have been familiar with Insulspan my whole life. They are a staple of our town, and stand by their product,” says Patty. Concerned with labor cost and the speed that the garage needed to be constructed, the homeowner chose to use Insulspan’s Ready-to-assemble (RTA) package.

Aaron Hinde, Insulspan representative says, “Our ready-to-assemble packages really make projects run smoother, have less site waste, and provide a more prepared product for the crew to install.” Click here for more information on the RTA system from Insulspan.

After receiving the site plans for the lakeside lot Insulspan’s design team worked out the shop drawings and configured the project in their HSB software, a system that allows them to create a 3D model of each project ensuring all the details are met for each customer. Once cut, the panels were picked up by the contractor in the morning, and on their way to the job site. The garage was complete in 16 hours with only a crew of 3.

“It was amazing to see how fast the walls went up,” Patty says, “the longest wall that was about 23 feet long, was all one piece. Once it was tilted up over the sill plate, one fourth of the garage was finished! And now all the neighbors are saying how nice and straight my garage is, not to mention how quick it was done.”

insulspan-cutawayNew Technology adapting Northern homes to the North 

Where in the North can a family of seven, in a  two story, 1.336 square-foot home, cover all its household utilities of $270 a month? Repulse Bay, of course. Really. That’s where the NWT Housing Corporation built the energy-efficient home in todays profile.

The utility costs average $270.50 a month for this Insulspan SIP home, ranging from just under $100 a month in July to about $460 in March.  With the average fuel consumption for the home being 317 litres of fuel oil a month.

“The major difference is the walls” said Bill Fandrick of Synergy Solutions, a Northern consulting company that specializes in energy-efficient housing. 

Panels on roofThe walls, floors and roof are structural insulating panels manufactured by Insulspan, the SIP division of Plasti-Fab, Ltd. SIPs are a solid, one-piece unit with structural OSB (Oriented strand board) sandwiching an EPS foam core. EPS is the acronym for moulded expanded polystyrene, a rigid closed cell foam plastic. EPS is inert to a wide range of chemicals and has no food value therefore will not support the growth of insects, parasites or animals. The EPS insulation, manufactured by Plasti-Fab, is used in the construction of buildings to insulate roofs, walls, floors or foundations. It is also used as the insulation component in energy-efficient building systems, such as the Insulspan® SIP System, which was used in this project. The technology may be new to the North, but it’s been around for decades. The first SIP houses were built in Michigan in the 1950s.

“I spent five days at the (Repulse Bay) house during winter, there were 80-kilometre winds, it’s a truly comfortable house.” Fandrick said. 

Cost of efficiency

Aside from the comparable cost, this style of house can be built beyond the conventional construction season and construction can continue during windy conditions. Another plus, it is practical to sealift** the panels, according to a report prepared by Fandrick in December.

**Sealift refers to the re-supply of isolated communities with fuel, building materials, foodstuffs, vehicles and other goods. This is the most common method used for the coastal communities of Northern Canada due to the lower cost and the larger capacity of ships and barges over aircraft. An annual occurrence in the Arctic, the sealift is usually performed between July and October, when the sea is ice free.

“This is a success story. The innovations in this house are saving 50 to 60 per cent of the operating costs.” 


Another feature of the home – a single appliance provides not only in-floor heating but also the domestic hot water supply. Fuel oil used to heat the home as well as the hot water is also used to preheat air drawn through the heat recovery ventilation system.

Ultimately, savings realized through more efficient homes could be put into building new homes to meet the growing demand in the North.  There’s no question that there is a demand for homes in the Northwest Territories.  The NWT Housing Corp. survey concluded there is a shortage of 4,350 homes. The housing corporation is attempting to address the shortage. The goal of the plan, which includes building new homes and improving existing homes, is to help 2,000 families in the coming years.

Insulspan SIPS Canada

Insulspan SIPs being used for more Laneway Homes in Vancouver
As the City of Vanouver started accepting the building of laneway homes in 2009, it was Lanefab Design/Build making the most of the opportunity, being the first to build the first laneway house in the city.

These small secondary residential units or “laneway homes” that takes the place of a garage along back lanes or alleys now total more than 500 as of May of 2013. Among these dwellings it is Lanefab that significantly takes the spotlight due to its environment-friendly approach on the design of laneway homes.

Lanefab co-owner Mat Turner considers Insulspan SIPs as an advantage because of its sustainability features such as a higher effective R-value, more efficient construction and a continuous air barrier that limits heat loss due to air infiltration.

“With SIPs, we can do an extremely airtight building and we can do it very quickly,” said Mat Turner, owner of Lanefab Design/Build.

laneway-homes3

The combination of Insulspan SIPs with triple-glazed windows and triple-glazed glass doors has allowed Turner to downsize the heating system of the home into a small air-to-water heat pump.

Applying these features resulted in an EnerGuide rating of 87, making it one of the most energy-efficient homes in the city of Vancouver once it the place was developed. This system has been repeated successfully by Lanefab, providing laneway homes with EnerGuide ratings of 88 and 89.

“I’ve been working with Insulspan for quite a long time,” said Turner. “The panels are extremely precise, they are always done very quickly, and the coordination is always good.”

“Lanefab is building on the sustainable EcoDensity program by reducing the energy use and carbon footprint of their homes with the Insulspan SIP System,” said Insulspan SIPS Sales Manager Dave Stevenson.

More on Insulspan SIPS @ www.insulspan.com

Insulspan SIPS CanadaEnergy-efficient laneway homes help green Vancouver’s Urban Areas
In August of 2009, the City of Vancouver initiated the EcoDensity program, a comprehensive city plan focusing on environmental sustainability. Under the new program, owners of single family homes can construct smaller, “laneway” homes in place of a garage on the city’s numerous back lanes.

“It is lower impact because we are building in already established zones and by densifying these zones we should be able to attract more infrastructure such as public transit,” said Mat Turner, owner of Lanefab Design/Build.

Laneway Turner was the first to construct a laneway home in Vancouver. Adding to the inherent environmental benefits of a smaller home, he built the 710 sq. ft. house with the Insulspan® Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System to save energy. Borrowing from the German Passive House concept, Turner used 10-inch thick SIP walls and a 12-inch thick SIP roof to virtually eliminate space heating.

“Because of the efficiency and high insulation value we’re getting, we are able to downsize the heating and cooling systems,” he said. “Most of our heating and cooling is passive, but I’m required to have some sort of space heating, so we have a small amount of electric radiant heating to warm the floor.”

laneway3In addition to the energy-saving benefits of SIPs, Insulspan’s ready-to-assemble system saves Turner’s crews valuable on site construction time and lowers their overall construction costs. With a crew of only three people Turner is able to close-in a home in just eight to ten hours.

“We can actually build these homes cheaper and way more efficiently than a standard stick frame house,” said Turner. “Insulspan has been very supportive and they’re always there to give you a hand with any technical issues.”

“Laneway homes are emerging as an excellent way to densify housing in Vancouver,” said Insulspan SIPS Sales Manager Dave Stevenson. “With SIPs, these homes can be built quickly and with greater energy efficiency.”

More on Insulspan SIPS @ www.insulspan.com

Insulspan SIPS CanadaPoints of Interest: Active House & Insulspan SIPs
With the successful completion of the first ever Active House in North America, it was accompanied by media and articles depicting not just the homeowner’s story, but the energy efficiency and product performance story as well. The Saint Louis Business Journal and Eco-Living Pulse were two venues that added voice to this project.

St. Louis Business Journal
Living Green: $500,000 home; $0 energy bill, by Section Editor- St. Louis Business Journal

When St. Louis native David Smith set out in 2011 to build a new home for his wife Thuy and daughter Cameron, he approached the decision with the typical mindset of a new homebuyer: get the most square feet per dollar. Instead, they ended up with a home with the potential to eliminate all energy costs.
Read the Article

Eco-Building Pulse
From Start to Finish: Active House USA

Our holistic approach to systems and design incorporates many top-of-the-line products and industry-leading green building innovations. For example, the home will be built using SIPs paneling for the roofing and walls, solar water heating, and utilizing solar energy that feeds and pulls from the main grid at net-zero efficiency. The home will be automated to read humidity, temperature, and external conditions in order to signal automated skylights to open and close to moderate the indoor air comfort.
Read the Article

Eco-Building Pulse
Active House Enters Testing Phase, by Matt Belcher of Verdatek Solutions

Originally, when the opportunity to be a part of the team to construct an Active House prototype in the United States was presented to us, it was apparent that the goal of the Active House specification and the NGBS were complimentary. Part of our mission with this prototype is to demonstrate how similar they are and create opportunities to expand the market familiarity and impact of both. The project has been wholly rewarding and the results have so far been even better than anticipated. Our client will be the beneficiary of long-lasting efficient performance and comfort that will now not be obsolete for quite possibly decades, which begs the question: Why would you build any other way?
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Insulspan SIPS CanadaInsulspan® SIPs play key role in North America’s First Active House
Builder Matt Belcher is no stranger to building sustainable homes. His resume as a custom-home builder and consultant boasts several of the nation’s top green homes, authoring a book on sustainable construction, and direct involvement in the development U.S. building codes and green building standards.

 

Active House USA

In 2011, Belcher was approached by the Belguim-based Active House Alliance with an entirely new take on green building. Following a holistic approach to net zero energy design, the Active House standard merges energy-efficiency with a focus on environmental impact and indoor air quality. Belcher’s consulting firm Verdatek Solutions partnered with Hibbs Homes to construct the North American prototype: Active House USA.

Active House USA1Reaching the energy efficiency metrics of the Active House standard demanded a robust building envelope to reduce heating and cooling loads.

“It all starts with the building envelope,” said Belcher. “SIPs give you the confidence going in that the building envelope is not going to be an issue.”

Belcher and his team specified the Insulspan® Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System for the walls and roof of the home. By selecting Insulspan SIPs, they greatly reduced both thermal bridging and air infiltration. “We used a salvaged 2.5 ton electric furnace as a temporary heat source during construction and heated the house all winter with that little furnace,”said Belcher. “The thermal performance was incredible.”

Building on the efficiency of the SIP envelope is a 98% AFUE natural gas furnace, an energy recovery ventilator, high performance windows and doors, a solar thermal system, and a 4.8kW PV array. The home is expected to reach net zero energy use.

Active House USA2“My experience with Insulspan was good,” said Belcher. “The end result is a superior home, and that is what we were going for.”

“We are excited that the Insulspan SIP System helped Matt reach the energy performance and indoor air quality goals of this new, emerging standard,” said Insulspan Sales Representative Aaron Hinde.

For more information on the Active House, visit www.insulspan.com or http://activehouseusa.com/

Insulspan SIPS CanadaInsulspan in Sustainability: Project Pictures

In addition to the SAK house we featured on Monday, Insulspan has been part of many sustainable projects over the years. Here are just a few of our projects during the construction phase of the sustainable homes.

For more information on the sustainable projects shown here, visit the links below:

Captain Planet Zero Energy House: http://www.insulspan.com/about/zero_energy_gre.aspx

Active House USA: http://www.pfbsustainability.com/

NextGen House: http://www.nextgenhome.com/Events/LifeStyle/index.aspx

 

Insulspan SIPS CanadaSustainable Affordable Kit House packages Insulspan® SIPs with sustainable materials
It all started when Ricky Cappe built a custom home. Despite his construction background and career as a sustainable building consultant, he was astounded by the amount of time, effort and cost involved. And he knew the difficultly most homeowners face when confronted with the myriad of sustainable materials and energy-saving technologies available today.

sak-house-01Cappe sought to simplify the process by creating the Sustainable Affordable Kit (SAK) House—a complete set of building plans, material lists, suppliers, project schedules, and everything needed to construct a stylish and sustainable home.

“I wanted to give people the opportunity to build a home that is not toxic, that is durable, of high quality, and utilizes cutting edge materials,” he said.

A key component of the SAK™ House is an energy-efficient building envelope constructed with the Insulspan® Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System.

sak-house-03“I looked at a lot of different forms of construction, and I decided that SIPs were the system that I wanted to use,” said Cappe.

The Insulspan SIP System provides higher effective thermal resistance and lower air infiltration than comparable building systems, making the SAK House even more affordable by reducing heating and cooling costs.

Prefabricated SIPs from Insulspan also offer faster construction times and improved design flexibility for all five available SAK House designs.

“The whole system goes up so fast and efficient that it was truly a pleasure to work with,” said Cappe. Each SAK House is equipped with dual-pane argon-filled windows, radiant heating, ENERGY STAR appliances, and low-flow fixtures and toilets. The home designs themselves are climate specific, with passive solar features for further energy savings.

sak-house-02“The SAK House provides real value to homeowners by giving them a solid design with sustainable materials like the Insulspan SIP System, which will save them money as long as they own the home,” said Insulspan SIPS Sales Manager Dave Stevenson.

For additional information on Insulspan SIPs and the SAK house, visit: www.insulspan.com

Or download the project profile in full here:

http://www.insulspan.com/downloads/projectprofile/Sustainable%20Affordable%20Kit%20House.pdf

R-2000 Net Zero Energy Ready Home
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

R-2000 Net Zero Energy Ready HomeArthur Lo has been building energy-efficient homes for over 17 years. His Vancouver-based company Insightful Healthy Homes has certified all their projects through Natural Resources Canada’s R-2000 program, offering homebuyers a high degree of energy efficiency and a solid return on their investment. But his latest project takes this philosophy a step further—a 2,400 sq. ft. home that is net zero energy ready and the first home in British Columbia to meet the new 2012 R-2000 Standard.

Meeting the requirements of the new R-2000 standard is not easy. The 2012 version is twice as efficient as its predecessor, requiring special attention to the building envelope to limit heat loss. Lo designed the 2,400 sq. ft. net zero energy ready home with double stud walls and the Insulspan® Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System for the roof to cut heating and cooling costs.

R-2000 Net Zero Energy Ready Home2Lo specified 10-inch-thick Insulspan SIPs for their continuous high R-value insulation and exceptional air sealing. Unlike traditional wood framing systems, the Insulspan SIP System avoids thermal bridging of wood framing members by providing uninterrupted insulation. And the large ready-to-assemble sections greatly reduce the possibility of air leakage to the outside.

“Among all the measures to achieve energy efficiency, insulating the exterior walls and roof is our first priority,” said Lo. “We had to build a vaulted ceiling and I can say that the Insulspan system is the only solution to meet our insulation requirements for a vaulted ceiling.”

The home’s thermal performance was further enhanced with fiberglass frame triple-pane windows, a well-insulated crawlspace, and durable metal roofing that reduces solar heat gain. A solar thermal system supplies domestic hot water and wiring is in place for a
photovoltaic system capable of producing as much energy as the home consumes.

R-2000 Net Zero Energy Ready Home1“Arthur has shown how building with the Insulspan SIP System can result in a higher quality home, a healthier living environment
and longterm ulitility savings for homeowners,” said Insulspan SIPS Sales Manager Dave Stevenson. “It is a perfect solution for progressive builders like Aruthur looking to meet the new R-2000 standard, reach net zero energy and reduce the environmental impact of their homes.”

For more information on Insulspan SIPs and the energy efficiency they provide, visit. www.insulspan.com

Plasti-Fab Solutions Home: SIP Roof
Written by: Dave Stevenson
Insulspan Division, PFB Corporation

In keeping with our Plasti-Fab Solutions Home blog series; after previously discussing below grade insulation, ICF foundation and above grade ICF and exterior rigid insulated sheathing wall systems; as well as SIP floor and wall applications, the next obvious topic for discussion would be that of ‘how best to insulate the roof of the house’? The answer really depends on the roof design, but in most cases a SIP roof can be the perfect solution.

First off, it is important to understand that SIP roof panels are not intended to be installed on top of standard trusses. They are intended to replace the trusses altogether in order to create design possibilities more commonly associated with a post and beam style of construction. This doesn’t mean that the panels can completely support themselves. In fact, the panels still need to be supported by beams or rafters of some sort, but the resulting open space can be left as a vaulted ceiling above a great room, a mezzanine level can be added, or even an entire upper floor. The maximum span between these beams or rafters will depend on the snow load, the thickness of panel, and the spline connection at the panel joints.

So flat roofs, gable roofs, shed roofs, winged roofs, gambrel roofs, and even roofs with dormers work very well with SIPs. But ‘why’ you ask is a SIP roof any better than a conventionally framed vaulted ceiling? So glad you asked.

Aside from the fact that you get all this extra volume and the aesthetic appeal of a cathedral ceiling in a timber framed building, roofs built with SIPs also combine the tedious labour of framing, sheathing, insulating and vapor barrier into an ultra-quick, one step installation process. Talk about a time savings! Consider this, a typical 3000sqft roof panel package can take an experienced crew as little as 2 days to install. Just try hand framing, sheathing, insulating and installing vapor barrier to a 3000 sqft vaulted ceiling.

And then there’s the sustainability and energy saving aspect of the roof panels:

SIP Roofs Save Resources
The major components of SIPs, Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and Oriented Strand Board (OSB) take less energy and raw materials to produce than other structural building systems.
• EPS is 98% air
• EPS is recyclable; even the ‘off cut’ material from the manufacturing process can be returned to the EPS molder for use in the manufacture of other EPS products
• EPS provides long term thermal resistance; when used in SIP applications, it will save many times the energy embodied in the petroleum used to make EPS
• OSB is manufactured from fast growing, carefully managed forests
• OSB does not contain any urea-formaldehyde adhesives

Not only are the raw materials used to manufacture SIPs less taxing on the environment from manufacturing standpoint, but there are actually less raw materials required to build a SIP house. Consider this; a SIP building typically uses about 30% less dimensional lumber because studs can be placed every 48” compared to standard 16” or 24” o.c ‘stick frame’ construction.

SIPs also drastically reduce job site waste. Because the panels arrive pre-fabricated and ready to install, there are no off cuts, insulation left overs, plastic bags, or scrap pieces of vapour barrier to deal with.

So not only do SIPs save resources in production and minimize waste generation, the high R-value and airtight nature of the building envelope also reduces the amount of gas and electricity used in heating and cooling the house.

Finally, a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) conducted by BASF comparing SIPs to conventional stick framing revealed that SIPs have a significantly lower impact on the environment. Not only do they save natural resources and energy, but they also help to decrease carbon emissions. BASF Sips Life Cycle brochure

Learn more about Insulspan SIP Roofs @ www.insulspan.com

Next week we will cover the last solution for our home using PlastiSpan Insulation to insulate a cathedral ceiling. Stay tuned as we wrap up our series in the coming weeks.


Building Walls with Insulspan SIPs
Written by Aaron Hinde

If you have been following along in our blog series, you know that we have now insulated the foundation of the house with multiple products and methods, discussed insulated floor systems, and talked about how to insulate above grade walls using exterior insulating sheathing methods. Staying with the above grade walls of the home in this week’s blog, I discuss yet another solution: Structural Insulating Panel wall systems.

Why is the insulation of your walls so important? Well for starters, 40% of the world’s energy consumption is in buildings. That energy converts to dollars. When building a home you want the most energy efficient method available, and Insulspan SIPs provides an excellent energy efficient solution.

The Insulspan Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System “sandwich” of performance-rated oriented strand board (OSB) structurally laminated to a continuous core of expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation allows you to build and insulate your building in one step. You gain benefits not only from the energy efficiency of the product, but also from the speed of construction, the designed system that is tailored to each project (see Designing with Insulspan SIPs Blog), and a Ready-To-Assemble end product which includes your essential materials such as lumber in one complete package.

SIP by Design
Our design process reduces construction time and improves efficiency. Blueprints for your home are loaded into our computerized factory equipment, where Insulspan SIPs are manufactured to your exact specifications, then delivered to your location as a ready-to-assemble building system.

Energy Efficiency
Higher R-value keeps conditioned air in. The R-value of a wall is a measure of its ability to keep heat from flowing through it. Higher R-value for walls means less heat loss from the interior or gain from the exterior means less energy needed for heating and cooling. The Insulspan closed cavity wall design limits air movement. The continuous core of EPS insulation in an Insulspan SIP vastly reduces air leakage and heat loss, while also allowing better control of indoor air quality.

SIPs under Construction
Insulspan delivers a full ready-to-assemble package for your walls where we do a complete HSB wall layout showing all connection and lumber detailing. The panels are cut with precise CNC equipment to meet specified tight tolerances. The walls come to the job site with all splines, corners and window and door bucking installed to make installation fast and accurate. The top and bottom plates are supplied and installed in the field to make for connections between top and bottoms of the panels. Insulspan cuts all lumber at connection points for the wire chases saving you the time in the field.

Insulspan tries to do everything in the factory setting and throughout design to save you time and money during the installation process. We also use the highest quality of adhesives and material to assure you receive the highest quality product the market can offer.

So in short, by using our structural insulating panel system, you have built an incredibly energy efficient, higher quality wall system.

Tips & Tricks
To see our product in action, and learn some of the tips and tricks used by the pros, check out our YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE604FB4BC11E368B&feature=plcp

SIPs are just one of the methods available to help create the most energy efficient home. Next week, Colin will discuss the use of an insulating concrete forming system as yet another energy efficient solution for exterior walls.

plastifab.com | advantageicf.com | insulspan.com


Insulspan SIP Floor Applications
Written by Dave Stevenson

We have insulated the foundation walls of our Plasti-Fab Solutions Home using three different methods as discussed by Melissa and Colin in the previous blogs. Now we move on to the floor system of the home. Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) for floor systems can be used in applications where an insulated floor deck is required. In these types of applications they become an integral component in the overall building envelope, adding to the energy efficiency of the home.

SIPs for floors may be used in conjunction with pier foundations where structural support beams span from pier to pier; either in cold arctic regions where the tundra does not allow for a more typical slab or stem wall, or in mountainous areas where the floor extends out from the sloping grade and is exposed to the air from beneath. Another less common application is above garages or carports where there is living space above.

In any case, it is important that the placement of the structural support beneath the panels be adequate for the span based on load requirements determined by the engineer on the project, and that the deflection criteria is not exceeded. The pier foundations, with structural beams, create a platform for the panels to rest on. Once the panels have been installed, a layer of minimum 5/8″ T&G plywood sheathing is fastened down to the top side of the panels, staggering the joints in the plywood with SIP longitudinal joints.

Another important consideration in using SIPs for floor applications is to ensure that the underside of the floor in appropriately protected. The underside of the SIP should not be exposed to open air space below when supported on a pier foundation above the ground, nor to the interior of the garage or carport below a living space. The type of protection used must ensure that the underside of the SIP floor will not be subject to damage due to exposure to weathering or high humidity/moisture conditions.

So whether its living space above a garage, exquisite mountain homes, or arctic temperature living, the use of Insulspan SIPs as floors provides another solution in developing the complete energy efficient home.

For more information on structural insulating panels and energy efficient insulating solutions, visit www.insulspan.com

Next week: Insulating Above Grade Walls with Exterior Sheathing


Mountain Equipment Co-op
North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Written by: Chris Schwind

MEC selects Insulspan® SIPs for signature green retail store

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) has built a reputation for providing Canadians with quality outdoor gear and doing so with environmental sustainability in mind. The company’s goal to protect the natural playground enjoyed by their customers is reflected in their products, operations, and new 21,000 sq. ft. retail location in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

“MEC builds and operates some of the most energy-efficient retail buildings in Canada,” said CFO Sandy Treagus. “The North Vancouver store exemplifies our commitment to reducing our environmental impact through a highly evolved green building program.”

To cut down on the building’s energy use and meet the stringent LEED Gold standard, MEC selected the Insulspan®
Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System for the walls and roof. Insulspan SIPs enclosed the building with rigid closed-cell foam plastic insulation and a complete air barrier—greatly reducing heating and cooling needs. MEC estimates the building will use 45 percent less energy than a code-built retail facility.

“Insulspan’s structural insulated panels met several key objectives: they provide a high performance airtight wall assembly that can be erected relatively fast and, at the end of the building’s life, disassembled in large pieces,” Treagus added.

Clerestory windows in the building’s distinctive sawtooth roof disperse natural light over the retail floor, while daylighting and occupancy sensors dim electric lights when they are not needed. An innovative radiant heating and cooling system circulates hot or cold water through the building’s concrete slab based on predictive controls that adjust for the upcoming weather forecast. These high tech features are blended with native landscaping, onsite stormwater management, and siting that seamlessly integrates with the adjacent trails of Lynnmouth Park.

“We are very pleased that MEC has specified the Insulspan SIP System for this impressive green building” said Insulspan SIPS Sales Manager Dave Stevenson. “It is truly exciting to see our product help meet the amibitious energy-saving and sustainability goals of a progressive company like MEC.”

Download the Printable PDF

For more information visit: http://www.insulspan.com


Designing with Insulspan SIPs
Written by guest writer Keith Nelson, Insulspan Designer

Why Design with Insulspan SIPS? A panel is a panel is a panel, right?

I believe in helping people, giving the best possible effort, and doing right by others. I believe that the “pictures” I draw are more than lines on a screen or a page. I believe that they are a person’s dreams, realized. My name is Keith Nelson and I design SIPs at the Insulspan plant in Blissfield, MI.

Being entrusted with someone’s dream is an awesome and daunting responsibility, with equal parts trust, excitement and trepidation. Architects have the visionary work; designers translate their concepts into reality. Mechanics and metrics, software and load paths are all part of that translation, but those things are just the tools that I use to actualize their dreams. The purpose behind those tools is improving the quality of life that the homeowner will enjoy, the pleasure they’ll take everyday living in their dream. I endeavor to give each of them the most energy efficient, cost effective version of that dream.

After receiving the plans from the customer, I recreate their two dimensional information in a 3D model using HSB Cad. HSB is cutting edge software that integrates with AutoCAD Architecture. Starting at the top, I work my way down through the structure, I trace the loads imposed on the panel, transferring them out and down to the foundation. Each door and window, opening and exterior wall is digitally recreated. Every SIP and piece of lumber in the project is then modeled from that data for maximum efficiency and minimal waste. Panels are maximized in size, thermal breaks are minimized, the design tweaked to provide the best performance possible within the given structural requirements. That care and attention to detail will have direct impact on every utility bill the customer receives.

Insulspan panels are consciously designed for the people who will use them, for their comfort and enjoyment, for their future and the actualization of their dreams.

What I do everyday makes a difference in people’s lives; not just in their energy savings, but in their level of comfort, and in their sense of home. I maintain that an Insulspan panel isn’t like any other you can purchase, by design.

Visit www.insulspan.com for more on panel design and options.


R-value – EPS core SIPs vs. Others
Written by Dave Stevenson
Follow Dave on twitter @DStevensonSIP

One of the criteria that most energy rating programs have in common is an emphasis on R-value. In fact the NetZero Energy Home Coalition, the Passive Haus Standard, Canada’s EnerGuide Rating System and the USGBC’s LEED Rating System (just to name a few), all consider R-value to be a primary indicator of a building’s energy efficiency. For those who don’t know, R-value is the unit of measure for resistance to heat loss through a particular material; so simply stated, the higher the R-value the better thermal resistance, and hence, the lower the heat loss over time through the material.

Although R-value should be considered a serious factor when determining what materials will make up the building envelope, it’s important to understand that R-value only deals with heat loss by the 3 modes of heat flow through a material – conduction, convection and radiation. To put things into perspective, up to 60% of a building’s heat loss and energy use can be the result of air leakage, but I digress…

We’re here to discuss R-value; and in particular, Insulspan’s Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) core Structural Insulated Panel.

Here are some compelling reasons for choosing Insulspan’s EPS SIPs over any other type of SIP or insulated wall assembly.

  • Bang for the buck EPS insulation has the highest R-value per cost ratio vs. any other insulation.

For example; fiberglass insulation is cheap, but as an insulator it is more subject to convection heat loss around it due to installation issues between framing members. When real world factors such as air infiltration, extreme temperatures and thermal bridging are present, field-installed fiberglass insulation can lose more than half its R-value. Blown in insulation such as urethane, or polyisocyanurate board insulation, may have slightly higher initial R-values, but are much more expensive, and come along with a whole host of other issues and limitations.

  • EPS insulation is an air filled plastic insulation. This means it doesn’t off-gas or loose R-value over time.

Insulspan’s EPS core SIPs have an R-value of roughly R-4 per inch of thickness and the EPS core does not loose R-value over time. The same can’t be said for urethane or polyisocyanurate core panels that start out at an impressive R-7 per inch of thickness, but off-gas their blowing agent which provides the higher initial R-value, and settle over time at closer to R-5.

So in a nutshell –
R-value is important (maybe not as important as air-tightness), and Insulspan’s EPS core SIPs have the highest R-value to cost ratio compared to other insulated wall assemblies – they don’t off-gas, and they maintain their R-value over time.

Thermal Performance of the Insulspan SIP System
The Insulspan® SIP System provides wall and roof assemblies with higher overall (effective) thermal resistance (R-value) than other construction methods. The overall R-value of a building assembly includes the effect of thermal bridges as a result of framing members and is a measure of its ability to resist heat flow through it. The higher the overall R-value of a building assembly, the lower the long-term energy costs will be for heating and cooling.

The table below provides typical overall R-values calculated for wall and roof assemblies built with the Insulspan SIP System based upon:

  1. Wall and roof assemblies with gypsum board applied on the interior face.
  2. Wall assemblies with vinyl siding on the exterior face.
  3. Roof assemblies with sheathing paper with asphalt shingles on the exterior face.
  4. Insulspan SIP with expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation core and exterior skins: of engineered oriented strand board (OSB) exterior rated sheathing.
  5. Panel to panel joint design options include OSB surface spline or 2x dimensional lumber.

R values in the Real World

For more information on R-values check out http://www.insulspan.com


Energy-Efficient Laneway Homes Help Green Vancouver’s Urban Areas
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@InsulspanSIPsCa & @InsulspanSIPS

In August of 2009, the City of Vancouver initiated the EcoDensity program, a comprehensive city plan focusing on environmental sustainability. Under the new program, owners of single family homes can construct smaller, “laneway” homes in place of a garage on the city’s numerous back lanes.

“It is lower impact because we are building in already established zones and by densifying these zones we should be able to attract more infrastructure such as public transit,” said Mat Turner, owner of Lanefab Design/Build.

Turner was the first to construct a laneway home in Vancouver. Adding to the inherent environmental benefits of a smaller home, he built the 710 sq. ft. house with the Insulspan® Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System to save energy. Borrowing from the German Passive House concept, Turner used 10-inch thick SIP walls and a 12-inch thick SIP roof to virtually eliminate space heating. “Because of the efficiency and high insulation value we’re getting, we are able to downsize the heating and cooling systems,” he said

“Most of our heating and cooling is passive, but I’m required to have some sort of space heating, so we have a small amount of electric radiant heating to warm the floor.” In addition to the energy-saving benefits of SIPs, Insulspan’s ready-to-assemble system saves Turner’s crews valuable onsite construction time and lowers their overall construction costs. With a crew of only three people Turner is able to close-in a home in just eight to ten hours.

“We can actually build these homes cheaper and way more efficiently than a standard stick frame house,” said Turner. “Insulspan has been very supportive and they’re always there to give you a hand with any technical issues.”

“Laneway homes are emerging as an excellent way to densify housing in Vancouver,” said Dave Stevenson, Insulspan’s Western Sales Manager. “With SIPs, these homes can be built quickly and with greater energy efficiency.”

View more of the Laneway Photos and project


Electrical Wiring & SIPs
Written by Dave Stevenson
Follow Dave on twitter: @DStevensonSIP

There’s no getting around the fact that electricians don’t like SIPs, but the reality is that SIPs aren’t any more difficult to wire than any other type of construction – just different.

If you’ve never worked with SIPs, contact an Insulspan representative before the panels even arrive and ask for your very own set of plans. If you take the time to strategize beforehand, the time spent on site will be significantly reduced. Clearly marked on the drawings, you will see a grid work of hatched lines, both horizontal and vertical, marked W.C (wire chase), that indicate every chase location within the exterior shell of the building. Trust the drawings.

All of the wiring can be run within these 1 ½” diameter chase-ways, and as long as the installers have remembered to drill similar diameter holes down through the bottom plates corresponding with the vertical chases in the panels, the wiring should be a breeze. The electrician can simply use a hole saw (any diameter is fine) to cut out a ‘plug’ at any vertical and horizontal junction. Then just use a ‘fish tape’ to pull the wire up from the floor. At that point, the electrician can either decide to wire in the outlet and run back down into the floor and then over to the next vertical chase, or run the wire horizontally through the chase over to the next junction or outlet.

The horizontal chases are completely unobstructed, which means that an electrician could install an outlet on one end of a wall and run the wire horizontally all the way to the other end without having to drill a single stud. This process would literally take only minutes. Once inside the wall, the wire can be run horizontally and vertically. If enough forethought has been put into the design, it is conceivable that an outlet or fixture could be located virtually anywhere along the plane of the wall or roof. The boxes that are typically used with SIP construction are standard ‘renovation boxes’ or sealed ‘flanged’ boxes that are fastened to the face of the OSB sheathing. These boxes are available at any building supply store.

If all this still sounds like too much, there are other options. For example, many architects, builders and homeowners are attracted to the panels because of their energy saving qualities, such as greater R-values and reduced air leakage. For this reason, they are reluctant to introduce any chase-ways what-so-ever to the exterior building envelope, and are compulsive in their efforts to eliminate all electrical wiring from the exterior shell by either moving everything into partition walls or furring out the inside surface of the SIP wall with 2 x 4s.

The point is, the electrician need not be overly intimidated by the panels. There is a way to run the wiring within the panels. It may be slightly different from conventional methods, but once an electrician has a few under his belt, he may even find panels easier and less time consuming than ‘normal’ 2x construction. For more information on wiring SIP panels I recommend YouTube. Simply enter in ‘SIP Wiring’ (or anything to that effect) and everything you need to know about this subject (with video) is right at your finger tips.

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Plumbing and SIPs
Written by Dave Stevenson
Follow Dave on Twitter @DStevensonSIP

One of the questions I get asked most is how plumbing is run within the solid EPS core of a SIP wall.

The answer to question is simple: Plumbing within a SIP wall assembly should be avoided. Plumbing cannot easily be run within the solid core of an EPS panel; and even if it could, most building codes in the United States and Canada limit the practice of incorporating plumbing into any type of exterior wall.

Plumbing is generally kept to the conditioned side (interior side of the vapour barrier) of the building envelope to avoid expansion and contraction of the pipes and fittings.
The obvious concerns are freezing and condensation.

A broken water line within the exterior wall assembly of any building can have very serious consequences, and the struggle of getting to the source of the problem can be a difficult and expensive process. For this reason, water lines are typically run within interior walls, between floor joists, and hidden below bathroom vanities and kitchen countertops.

Vertical ventilation stacks coming off sinks, toilets and washers and dryers that are located against exterior SIP walls can be accommodated by using ‘island vents’ which route the stacks through the floor and into the nearest interior partition wall. See Figure 1.

Sprinkler systems, which are becoming more and more common, should also be kept to the conditioned side of the roof assembly. If sprinklers are required, then the ceiling should be furred down using 2x dimensional lumber attached to the bottom skin of the SIP roof panel, or simply left exposed.

Check in again next time when I will tackle the question of running electrical wires in SIP walls and roofs.

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SIP Ventilation Part 3: The Roof
Written by: Dave Stevenson

Welcome to Part 3 of my series regarding appropriate venting applications when building with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). You may recall that in the previous blog we dealt with rain screen requirements for walls built with Insulspan SIPs; and previous to that, in Part 1 of the series, we discussed HVAC requirements for buildings built with SIPs. Review the Rain Screen Blog or the HVAC Requirements Blog.

Now to the roof
The type of ventilation discussed in this blog is not to be confused with roof ventilation referred to in most building codes. The International Residential Code (IRC) 2006 and the National Building Code of Canada 2005 each have a similar provision stating that ‘except where it can be shown to be unnecessary’, an enclosed attic which is defined ‘as the space formed by application of finish material to the underside of roof rafters’, must have cross ventilation. The Insulspan SIP system is a closed cavity building component that does not include ‘rafters’ as defined above, and since the EPS insulation is in direct contact with the underside of the OSB top skin of the SIP, there is no opportunity for a condensation plane to develop within the core of the panel. PIB_207_-_Building_Code_Roof_Ventilation_Requirements

To summarize, the cross-ventilation requirement referenced in the code does not apply to a SIP roof.

So, the subject of this blog is ventilation of roof cladding systems above the roof deck or top skin of the SIP. There are some pretty strong arguments for the practice of ‘over-cladding’ a SIP roof.

Effect on Shingle Life
The durability of asphalt shingles correlates directly with temperature and ultra-violet radiation. The greater the temperature and UV exposure, the shorter the life of the shingle. Generally speaking, shingles installed over unvented ‘hot roof’ assemblies like SIPs operate at a slightly higher temperature and therefore some reduction in shingle life may be expected. Having said that, the choice of shingle colour, roof orientation and geographic location will likely have a more profound effect on shingle life than the effect of a slightly higher shingle temperature.

Telegraphing at Panel Joints
The moisture content in the top OSB layer of a SIP roof assembly changes regularly with the seasons and can result in the panel joints ‘telegraphing’ through asphalt shingles (other roofing materials such as wood shingles, shakes and metal roofing are not affected). This can also happen with stick-frame or rafter type roofs (See APA publication K310N – “How to Minimize Buckling of Asphalt Composition Shingles).” One of the key concerns to avoid shingle buckling or ridging than can also lead to this issue is to ensure that the underlayment and roofing are applied over a dry roof deck.

Although the ‘telegraphing’ at panel joints in no way has any structural effect on the roof assembly, there is the small matter of aesthetics. This problem can be avoided by ‘over-cladding’ – adding another layer of sheathing on furring strips to the top of the panels. This could be considered the ‘cold roof’ over ‘hot roof’ approach.

Ice Damming
Ice damming occurs when the temperature of the roof surface is above the freezing temperature when the outside air is below freezing. In stick frame roof applications, ice damming occurs due to air leakage from the interior of the house. A SIP roof is inherently more air tight than a stick frame roof so ice damming due to air leakage is less likely.

However, snow has some thermal resistance value and in areas where heavy snow fall is normal, the depth of snow can add additional thermal resistance above the roof deck. The added thermal resistance above the roof shifts the thermal gradient in the roof assembly, which may lead to ice damming if heavy snowfall accumulates on the roof.

Thus in extreme areas where heavy snow accumulation on the roof is possible, adding a vented airspace between the SIP and roofing material allows trapped heat due to the insulating properties of the snow to be flushed away. This reduces the potential for ice-damming when the temperature of the roof cladding is above freezing and when the temperature outside is below freezing with snow on the roof.

So in a nutshell, and to sum it all up –
Asphalt shingles can be applied directly to a SIP roof assembly with a secondary line of defense, such as a permeable underlayment. However, adding a vented space above the roof deck can provide some advantages in certain applications as noted above.

Wood shakes and shingles however, should always be installed over furring strip assemblies or drainage mats that can provide a vented drainage plane.

Metal roofs also work best when installed over drainage mats or furring strips with an additional layer of OSB, but it is not always necessary, and depends largely on the climate. (Reference – Builder’s Guide to Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) for All Climates by Joseph Lstiburek).

And of course, the builder should always be aware of the specific requirements of the local building code and apply roof cladding accordingly.

This ends our discussing on venting requirements for SIP buildings. I hope this series has been informative and provides architects and contractors some guidance that results in more effective methods for siding and roofing applications.

Stay tuned for my next blog which will delve into the matter of electrical and plumbing applications in a solid SIP shell.


Venting (rain screen) requirements for SIP wall designs
Written by Dave Stevenson

Welcome to Part 2 of our discussion regarding appropriate rain screen and venting applications for SIP walls. You may recall that in the previous blog we dealt with HVAC requirements for buildings built with Insulspan SIPs. [SIP Ventilation Part 1]

Venting (rain screen) requirements for SIP wall designs
The short answer to the question whether exterior wall cladding design requires venting is ‘No’. SIP walls don’t always have to be vented, but because all exterior claddings pass some rain water, especially wind driven rain, SIP wall design should always include some form of a secondary drainage plane. A ‘drainage plane’ is defined as any water repellent material, such as building paper or house-wrap, that is located behind the cladding and designed to drain water that gets past the cladding downwards and outwards.

Whether ventilation in the form of an air space is required between the sheathing and the cladding depends partially on the type of siding being applied, the climate where you are building, and also on what the local building code has to say about the matter.

I can’t comment on every local building code, except to say that the builder should be aware of the specific requirements and apply the cladding accordingly.

As for the type of cladding being applied, only vinyl and aluminum siding should be applied over a sheathing membrane applied to the exterior OSB facer of a SIP wall. This is because they are inherently ‘back ventilated’ due to their profile.
Wood siding and cement fiber board siding should be furred out using spacer strips that are applied over the drainage plane and can be as thin as ¼”, but again this will depend upon the local code requirements and cladding suppliers’ requirements.

For cedar shingles, stucco and stone veneers – drainage mats made of polypropylene mesh resembling large rolls of plastic Brillo pad® work very well. The cedar shingles can be applied directly over the drainage mats, but with the stucco and stone finishes, a layer of ‘tar paper’ should be installed over the mat to keep it from becoming clogged. (Reference Builder’s Guide to Structural Insulated Panels by Joseph Lstiburek).

In summary; although not all cladding requires venting in the form of an air space, all exterior claddings do pass some rain water. So especially in areas where rain is common, it is probably prudent to couple the secondary drainage plane with a vented air space behind the cladding, regardless of what material is used.

Join the conversation again next time for the final segment on SIP ventilation – Part 3 Venting Requirements for SIP Roof Design.


SIP Ventilation Part 1: HVAC
Written By: Dave Stevenson, with contributing writer Jim Whalen P. Eng.

Welcome again to the Plasti-Fab Insulspan SIPs’ blog. This time, I’d like to dive right into a subject that even the most knowledgeable building professionals seem to struggle with. Specifically; what is to be done regarding ventilation of SIP buildings? Does the indoor conditioned space of a SIP building require mechanical ventilation? And what about the exterior wall cladding and roof finish design? Should these be vented, as well?

These are all very good questions and ones that are brought up regularly by architects, HVAC system contractors, building envelope consultants, city building department officials, and most of all, by the builders themselves.

Let’s start with Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) requirements for buildings built with Insulspan SIPs. The short answer to the question whether these buildings require mechanical ventilation is ‘Yes’. Generally speaking, building envelopes built with SIPs have a higher thermal resistance and are much more air-tight than typical wood framed buildings. Because of the reduced air-leakage, an energy efficient SIP building requires some sort of mechanical ventilation to supplement natural ventilation. The controlled ventilation will exhaust contaminants from within the building and control indoor relative humidity.

It is therefore very important that HVAC contractors are aware of the higher R-values and increased air tightness, and take these into account when designing the HVAC systems. Proper design of the system will typically result in a smaller and more efficient furnace that can easily maintain required indoor air temperatures without short cycling, and in most energy efficient buildings will also include a heat recovery ventilator to provide the required ventilation. (Reference PIB 206 – HVAC System Requirements)

It should be noted that SIPs are not unlike any other air tight, energy efficient building system with regards to mechanical ventilation, and the decision to build with SIPs does not necessarily equate to additional cost due to ‘special’ HVAC requirements. It simply means that like any air tight, energy efficient building , the design of the HVAC system should suit the application for which it is intended.

Stay tuned for my next blog where we will move to the exterior of the building and discuss appropriate rain screen and venting applications for wall and roof claddings.

Experience the Energy Efficiency of SIPS
Listen to a SIP customer as they talk about the difference of living in a Structural Insulated Panel home.

For additional information on SIPS and energy efficiency, follow Dave Stevenson on twitter: @DStevensonSIP

The Energy Efficiency of SIPS

Written by Dave Stevenson, @DStevensonSIP

Welcome again to the Plasti-Fab Insulspan SIPs’ blog. I’d like to continue the discussion with an installment on ‘Energy Efficiency’. Last time, if you recall we looked at ‘Sustainability’ in the context of ‘Green Building’ and many may wonder what the difference is between ‘Energy Efficiency’ and ‘Sustainability’.

My take on it is that Energy Efficiency is perhaps the one measurable entity of an abstract and difficult to quantify, far reaching sustainable green building strategy.  Sustainability includes energy efficiency, of course, but also raw material use, recyclability, pollution and toxicity (the list goes on). Building a structure as sustainable as our budgets will allow makes us feel good about ourselves on an emotional level as well as contributing to the goal of sustainability. We all want to do our part for the environment by leaving a smaller footprint. Building ‘energy efficiently’, on the other hand, is a more tangible reality we can evaluate when we are considering what to use when it is time for us to build. We all want to save money by using less energy, and the savings can easily be quantified.

Did you know that buildings account for almost 40% of total energy consumption? If we can reduce the amount of energy required to manufacture the material used to construct the building in the first place and then reduce the energy to operate our buildings, not only can we save money, but we can simultaneously reduce the amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.

SIP Buildings Use Less Energy
Starting with the EPS insulation used to manufacture SIPs –
The Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) used to manufacture most SIPs takes less energy to produce than glass fiber insulation.

EPS also provides exceptional long term thermal resistance so that when used in SIP applications it will save many times the energy embodied in the petroleum used to manufacture it.

Download the  SIPS LCA Brochure, explaining the Life Cycle Benefits of SIPS, and the impact on reducing global warming.

This is a function of R-Value –
The R-value of a wall or roof is a measure of its ability to keep heat from flowing through it. Higher R-value for the walls and roof means less heat loss and less energy needed for heating and cooling.

There is also heat loss, and therefore energy consumption, due to conduction or Thermal Bridging –
SIPs wall and roof assemblies contain less dimensional lumber. In wood-framed construction a thermal bridge is created between the exterior of the building and the finished interior when insulation is interrupted by wood studs which leave up to 20% of the wall and roof area uninsulated. SIP wall and roof assemblies lose less heat to conduction and provide higher R-values because there are significantly fewer thermal bridges.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there can be significant heat loss due to air leakage –

Up to 40% of a home’s heat loss is due to air leakage, and heating and cooling account for the largest part of a family’s energy use. The closed cavity wall and roof design of SIP building significantly reduces air movement. In wood-framed construction, wall and roof R-value is decreased by insulation gaps around wood framing and by settling of insulation. These defects increase air leakage through the construction. This not only increases energy use, but can lead to condensation on the surfaces of wood components within assemblies. The continuous core of EPS insulation in a SIP vastly reduces air leakage and heat loss, while also allowing better control of indoor air quality.

So there you have it.

Structural Insulated Panels are one of the most airtight and well insulated building materials available. The Insulspan SIP System provides airtight wall and roof assemblies with higher effective thermal resistance and less thermal bridging than typical construction methods. These properties allow Insulspan’s SIPs to work in concert with other energy efficient building components to reduce heat loss by up to 60% over wood framed construction, while significantly reducing energy consumption.

Build with SIPs, look at your energy bill, and be amazed.

Dave Stevenson
Plasti-Fab Ltd.
Manufacturers of Insulspan SIPs

Stay tuned for our next SIP topic in a few weeks!
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The Benefits of Building with SIPs: Sustainability

Written by Dave Stevenson
Follow me on twitter @DStevensonSIP

Welcome again to the Insulspan SIPs’ blog.  Today’s topic will be ‘The Benefits of Building with SIPs: Sustainability’.

As I have mentioned already in previous blogs, there are several advantages to building with SIPs; the big three being sustainability, speed of construction, and factory controlled quality assurance. Each of these benefits can be further dissected into several more directly related sub-benefits such as energy efficiency, reduced site labour costs, and precise CNC fabrication tolerances. The value or importance attached to these benefits is directly dependent on the perspective of each stake holder in the project. For example; the contractor may particularly value the ‘speed of construction’ as it will allow his crew to build more houses in a year, while the architect may be more concerned about the exacting tolerances of the panels; and the home owner, the fact that she is doing her part to reduce the environmental footprint of her new home.

Because of the extensive range of benefits, and in the interest of brevity (I could ramble on for pages extolling all of the virtues of building with SIPs), I will begin a blog series that focusses specifically on one topic at a time: starting with Sustainability.

So what does sustainability in the context of ‘green’ building really mean? Plasti-Fab believes that to be sustainable, we need to do our best to use natural resources at a rate at which they can be replenished.  ‘Green’ building therefore, is the practice of minimizing the impact a building has on the natural environment by constructing buildings that use resources more efficiently, while minimizing pollution that can harm renewable natural resources.

SIPs Save Resources

The major components of SIPs, Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and Oriented Strand Board (OSB) take less energy and raw materials to produce than other structural building systems.

  • EPS takes 24% less energy to produce compared to fiberglass insulation
  • EPS is 98% air
  • EPS is recyclable; even the ‘off cut’ material from the manufacturing process can be returned to the EPS molder for use in the manufacture of other EPS products
  • EPS doesn’t contain any ozone depleting chemicals; it is inert
  • EPS provides long term thermal resistance; when used in SIP applications, it will save many times the energy embodied in the petroleum used to make EPS
  • OSB is manufactured from fast growing, carefully managed forests
  • OSB does not contain any urea-formaldehyde adhesives

Not only are the raw materials used to manufacture SIPs less taxing on the environment from manufacturing standpoint, but there are actually less raw materials required to build a SIP house. Consider this; a SIP building typically uses about 30% less dimensional lumber because studs can be placed every 48” compared to standard 16” or 24” o.c ‘stick frame’ construction.

SIPs also drastically reduce job site waste. Because the panels arrive pre-fabricated and ready to install, there are no off cuts, insulation left overs, plastic bags, or scrap pieces of vapour barrier to deal with.

So not only do SIPs save resources in production and minimize waste generation, the high R-value and airtight nature of the building envelope also reduces the amount of gas and electricity used in heating and cooling the house.

Finally, a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) conducted by BASF comparing SIPs to conventional stick framing revealed that SIPs have a significantly lower impact on the environment. Not only do they save natural resources and energy, but they also help to decrease carbon emissions. Download the EPS Life Cycle brochure

Follow my next blog as we continue our discussion on SIP benefits and in particular ‘Reduced Energy Consumption’.

Dave Stevenson
Insulspan Division, PFB Corporation

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Check out the images below to see some appropriate SIP applications:

Also if you are interested, you can read the technical data on the appropriate applications of SIPs in our Technical Bulletin. Technical Bulletin 118 – Roof Panel Design Charts – NBC of Canada 2005

——————————————————————————–

Appropriate SIP Applications

Written by Dave StevensonWelcome again to the Insulspan SIPs’ blog. This time I’d like to discuss Appropriate SIP Applications.

I have heard it be said “if you can build it with 2x framing, you can build it with SIPs”. Generally speaking, I suppose this statement is correct. On a more practical level however, I think it’s important to understand the most suitable applications for SIP construction in order to achieve all of the benefits that led to the decision to use SIPs in the first place. I will be delving into the benefits of building with SIPs in future blogs, but suffice to say that the big 3 are energy efficiency, speed of construction, and factory built quality.

Any architect, engineer or general contractor knows that incorporating the right building product into a project is crucial to the project’s success. And choosing just the right product from all of the choices can be a difficult decision. The final decision usually comes down to several factors pertaining mainly to structural capacity, aesthetics, and ease of construction. Even though a homeowner may be ‘sold’ on a certain product, sometimes compromises are necessary to get the mix just right. To use a cliché, there is no point trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

That brings us back to SIPs: Where they work best and where they don’t work.

For the most part, with the walls in particular, SIPs can be substituted quite easily for a stick framed wall. Some accommodations have to be made depending on seismic zone applications and heavy wind load areas, but the statement “if you can build it with 2x framing, you can build it with SIPs” generally applies. The roof however, is a completely different animal altogether.

I can’t tell you how many people have called to tell me that they have made the decision to use SIPs on their next building and then proceed to send me architectural drawings specifying a truss roof. When I call the customer back to confirm that their intention is to use panels for the walls only, the invariable answer is “no, I want SIPs for the roof, too.” Good grief!

It is important to understand that panels are not intended to be installed on top of standard trusses; they are intended to replace them altogether in order to create design possibilities more easily achieved with post and beam construction. This upper space can be left ‘as is’ for a vaulted ceiling above a great room, a mezzanine level can be added, or even an entire upper floor. This doesn’t mean that because the panels are structural they can support themselves, nor does it mean there are magical skyhooks holding the roof panels in place. In fact, the panels still need to be supported by beams or rafters of some sort, but the post and beam design results in an open space that would otherwise not be possible using standard trusses. The maximum span between the support beams depends on the snow load, the thickness of panel, and the spline connection at the panel joints.

So buildings designed with regular trusses and attics are not suitable to SIP roofs. What else?

Hip roofs are also tough to incorporate into a SIP building because the beams and posts required to support the SIPs are difficult and expensive to design and install. The hip beams typically obstruct head room, and the posts often have to be located right in the middle of the open space below the intersection of the hip beams and the ridge beam. Keep in mind that all beams and rafters need to be supported and this is usually accomplished by incorporating posts into the exterior wall panels. A house designed with SIPs on top of a hip roof can be a real challenge for the designers and engineers who want to keep the area open and post free.

On the other hand; flat roofs, gable roofs, shed roofs, winged roofs, gambrel roofs, and even roofs with dormers work very well with SIPs. It is important to get the roof support in the right location of course, but any designer or architect with a set of connection details and load span tables should be able to incorporate SIPs into their design and meet the three objectives of structural capacity, aesthetics, and ease of construction.  Keeping in mind that standard panel dimensions are 4’ wide and up to 24’ long, roofs built with SIPs can be extremely quick to install, with minimal thermal bridging.

I mentioned earlier that “for the most part, 2x stick frame walls can easily be replaced with SIP walls”. The one caveat to this statement is ultra-modern buildings with exceptional amounts of glazing. One of the benefits of using SIPs is that because of their 4’ modular nature they can reduce thermal bridging by eliminating much of the dimensional lumber that would typically be found in a stick framed wall. If thin panels packed with 2x material to support headers or massive shear resistance are being used between windows, then there really isn’t much point. SIPs are better suited to walls with normal openings and lots of wall area where the 4’ panels’ inherent R-value, air-tightness and reduced thermal bridging can fulfill their true potential.

That is all for this time but please be sure to comment or raise questions about this blog, or SIPs in general. I am interested in hearing your thoughts and want to encourage a discussion that will create more interest in the product and lead to a better educated readership.

Dave Stevenson
Insulspan Division, PFB Corporation

__________________________________________________

See the speed of construction associated with the use of Insulspan SIP construction as this McDonalds in Dawson Creek only took 10 weeks to complete. 

What is a SIP?  

Written by: Dave Stevenson

Welcome to Dave Stevenson’s inaugural SIP blog.

I happen to be one of those unfortunate members of the X generation, graduating in the ‘80’s and just barely missing the boat at the beginning of computer revolution. I bought my first computer at age 31 and have been frantically trying to catch up (and keep up) with all the hardware, soft ware, web portals, chat rooms, abbreviated lingo, ‘apps’, and social media sites, ever since. I would never have imagined myself participating in an on-line ‘blog’ a month ago, let alone being the author of my very own. I’m sure that many of you older builders out there reading this now can empathize with my plight and will allow me some time and leeway to develop this blog into something we can all gain valuable knowledge and expertise from.

This blog will be dedicated to Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), or stress skin or sandwich panels as they are also commonly known. It is not my intent to use this blog as just another ‘on line’ sales avenue pitching the virtues of SIPs to a younger, more tech savvy group of builders; although no doubt many of these virtues will be touched on and will surely lead to rigorous and engaging topics of discussion for our forum. No, the main purpose of this blog will be to assist those builders who are already building with SIPs and want to add to their knowledge and refine their methods, and also to provide the confidence to those builders who have not tried SIPs yet to take the leap, by providing the best information and expert advice to ensure a successful completion.

Building with SIPs is certainly different than building with ‘stick frame’ systems as most builders have experienced on past projects. It’s comparable in some ways to my introduction regarding computers. It is a relatively new technology for many of you, and for this reason it is important to understand things like suitable SIP applications, design limitations, installation methods, and how other building materials interface with the SIPs; just to mention a few potential topics.

So let’s begin at the beginning –

What exactly is a Structural Insulated Panel?

A Structural Insulated Panel is composed of a solid, continuous core of rigid insulation that has been laminated or expanded between two sheets of substrate sheathing. The most common type of core insulation used in SIP fabrication is expanded polystyrene (EPS). The most common sheathing material is Oriented Strand Board (OSB).

The look of the OSB/EPS composition, or standard Plasti-Fab Insulspan SIP, is something akin to a giant ice cream sandwich. Regardless of the composition or ‘ingredients’ of the panel however, the common result is a strong, energy efficient building component that can be used for walls, floors and roofs of single family homes, multi-unit complexes and light commercial buildings.

Insulspan SIPs come in 5 standard thicknesses of 4 ½”, 6 ½”, 8 ¼”, 10 ¼” & 12 ¼” with a nominal R-value of R-4 per inch, and large sheets of OSB allow us to laminate ‘jumbo’ panels of up to 8’ x 24’. Although the panels can be manufactured and sold as ‘blank’ rectangular panels, the majority of Insulspan SIPs are pre-cut to exacting tolerances using 3D modeling and CNC fabrication. Edge relief as well as lumber spline connectors and headers are then incorporated into the panels to create a completely ready to assemble, pre-fabricated package.

There are some obvious benefits to SIPs when comparing against standard ‘stick frame’ construction. The panels are generally much quicker and easier to install and also provide superior thermal performance and air-tightness. The panels are fabricated in a controlled environment adhering to more stringent quality control than is possible for on-site stick frame construction. The Insulspan SIP manufacturing process includes a strict ISO 9001-2010 quality assurance program, which includes third party certification of the manufactured product, and all the project designs are sealed by a professional engineer who confirms the structural capacity of the panels in accordance with the applicable code requirements. The Insulspan SIP System has also been independently evaluated for code compliance – CCMC Evaluation Report 13016-R for Canada and ICC-ES Evaluation Report ESR-1295 for the United States.

The list of advantages goes on and on, but for the time being I just want to get the conversation started. No doubt, there will be plenty of comparisons made for and against SIPs, as well an endless supply of questions that should help keep the forum informative and compelling to participate in. I plan on uploading a new blog topic every 3 weeks, so please stay tuned for the next edition ‘Appropriate SIP Applications’, and in the interim I encourage you to join the conversation by posting your questions and sharing your experience and expertise.

Whew! I really didn’t know what a ‘blog’ was until they made me do it.

— Dave Stevenson

Plasti-Fab, Ltd.:  Manufacturers of Insulspan SIPs

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Frank Baker permalink
    September 22, 2011 3:08 pm

    Dave
    Nice start on the new Insulspan blog.
    Good luck on this and let me know if I can be of assistance.
    Frank

  2. January 5, 2013 6:16 am

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  3. January 16, 2013 5:50 pm

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  4. January 23, 2013 10:29 pm

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