Image courtesy of Sipsco
There many kinds of structural insulated panel systems, mostly using oriented strand board (OSB) onto which the finished surfaces can be attached. The insulating core is typically EPS or polyurethane foam, but SIP's manufactured with MEPS is preffereable because the process does not emit ozone-depleting gas. The advantages of these systems are that they are air tight, well insulating (dependng on the type and thickness of the insulation) and easy to install. Also the panels can be used as insulated roof components. It is estimated that a SIP building might use 30% less wood than a conventionally framed one.
Image courtesy of Ecopan Corporation
One disadvantage of these wood-clad panels is that they don't provide any thermal mass as part of their composition. While SIPs with EPS cores will burn, it has been demonstrated that they remain structurally sound for a lenthy period during a fire and do not emit fumes any more hazardous than those of wood products. Another possible concern is with insects or rodents nesting in the insulation since this can be an ideal habitat for them. One last concern is that a well-constructed SIP structure is practically hermetically sealed, which means that the walls are not breathable; for this reason they require some sort of mechanical ventilation system for healthful habitation.
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This approximately 2430 square foot modern santa fe style home home could function as passive solar heated in two different orientations (front or rear elevations could face south). It has two bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths, and features a lofted living room as well as a family room. It is designed to be built with structural insulated panels (SIP's).
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