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THE INSIDE SCOOP
GREEN BUILDER RECOMMENDS
To select the right structural system for your home, examine your area’s vernacular architecture. But use common sense. If you’re building in a highrisk coastal zone, for example, why not step up to an ICF system that will make your home virtually wind proof? Certified wood is a good option in almost any climate, and SIPs can make the same claim. The key to any green structure: Build for the greatest possible energy performance and durability.


Materials with higher embodied energy—shown in Gigajoules—will need to last longer to justify their cost to the environment. This study—which compared an energy-efficient house (EEH) with a standard house (SH)—measured the energy costs for construction, maintenance, and improvement of a home with a 50-year lifespan.


STRUCTURAL INSULATED PANELS
MANY STRENGTHS
The concept here is simple. Two sturdy panels—typically oriented strand board (OSB)—are glued under pressure to a super insulating layer of plastic-based rigid foam (either polystyrene or polyisocyanurate). SIPs address air infiltration, R-value, and vapor permeability, while at the same time creating the home’s structure and providing a nailing surface for siding and drywall. So why aren’t they seen everywhere? Because they tend to cost more up front than stick framing and aren’t widely understood by contractors. But if you fi gure in the benefits in labor savings (up to 60% in some cases), plus the ongoing energy payback to homeowners, you can argue that SIPS come out on par with or lower in cost than wood framing.


STRUCTURAL INSULATED PANELS


VIRTUES
> Reduces labor time/ cost up to 60%
> Excellent insulating and air infiltration barrier


CAVEATS
> Storage on site must be dry and flat
> More expensive material costs than stick framing
> Skilled installation recommended (for the wall to roof transition especially)


 


LITEBLOK 38 (LIGHTWEIGHT CONCRETE BLOCK)
These insulating concrete blocks actually float in water. They contain only air pockets created by a temporary expanding agent—no fly ash or polystyrene— and achieve an insulating value of R-35. www.crescoconcrete.com


BELCO FSC-CERTIFIED FRAMING LUMBER
Based in Tacoma, Wash., Belco has set an example for other forest product companies in the region by becoming an FSC-certified supplier of framing lumber, demonstrating ongoing commitment to sustainable forestry. www.belcofp.com


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GreenBuilder 11.2010

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