What are SIPs? The Basics of Structural Insulated Panels

What are SIPs? The Basics of Structural Insulated Panels

With origins dating back to the early 1930s, Structural Insulated Panels, or SIPs, have long stood the test of time. While Forest Products Laboratory invented the high-performance building technology towards the beginning of the 20th century, it wasn’t until post-World War II that renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright popularized SIPs with his Usonian houses.

Still, it would be another couple decades before SIPs really took off, largely propelled by the green building movement. But what exactly is this building system alternative, and why are architects and home builders increasingly turning to SIPs for their commercial and residential framing needs?

SIPs Up Close

At their core, most SIPs consist of expanded polystyrene (EPS) rigid foam insulation. The EPS is sandwiched between two oriented strand boards (OSB), and manufacturers, like Premier Building Systems, laminate the boards and insulation together using a structural adhesive.

The result is a system that boasts superior insulating capabilities. EPS is made up of 98% air, which contributes to long-term, stable R-values with no off-gassing or releasing of chemicals. In contrast, other insulations are composed of blowing agents that diffuse out over time, diminishing the material’s ability to resist the flow of heat or cold. OSB also affords a higher insulating value when compared with wood or metal. As a USDOE Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Independent Study found, SIP panels “are up to 60% more energy efficient than 2×6 R19 construction.”

Very Tight and In Demand

SIP panels further contribute to energy efficiency by creating a very tight building envelope. Both EPS’ and OSB’s physical attributes include air impermeability, helping eliminate the possibility of air leaks. The panels themselves can be very large, up to 8’X24’, covering a greater surface area, reducing the number of gaps where air can escape. SIP panels are also easy to install and fit together like giant puzzle pieces, resulting in fewer spaces between each panel. In fact, in a side-by-side comparison with a stick-framed structure, ORNL determined that a SIP structure is 15 times more airtight, a key component to improving indoor air quality.

Thanks to this ultra-tight construction solution, a growing number of architects and builders are looking to SIPs to meet stringent green building code standards and energy efficiency requirements. With a foundation consisting of Premier SIPs, targeted performance measures are immediately realized, saving homeowners and business owners up to 60% in heating and cooling costs.

Your Go-To SIPs Manufacturer

If you’re interested in taking part in the SIPs revolution, look no further than Premier Building Systems. As the most recognized and most awarded SIPs manufacturer in North America, Premier’s expertise in residential, commercial and industrial building spaces is unparalleled. Premier SIPs are also the most decorated structural insulated panels in the industry, having received multiple SIPA Building Excellence Awards, a Green Builder magazine reader’s choice award, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Housing Innovation Award and more. Click here to connect with a regional Premier rep to meet your stronger, straighter, greener building needs today.