Posted by: Tessa  /   Category: Boulder Work / Design Principles / Modern Homes in Boulder / Residential Architecture / Sustainable Houses   /   Date: Jan 14, 2015

Building a house and wanting it to be extremely energy efficient? You may want to consider structural insulated panels (SIPs).

SIPs are a building system made from foam insulation sandwiched between 2 sheets of oriented strand board, think ice cream sandwich.

sip-panel (1)

SIP panel

These panels compose the walls of your house acting as a monolithic entity – as opposed to conventional stick frame construction that uses hundreds of individually joined 2-by-4s. As a result, SIPs homes tend to have several advantages including excellent thermal performance and air-tightness. The building envelope is so tight that some claim homeowners can save up to 50% on heating and cooling costs. Still not convinced?

Using SIPs construction also results in low-waste and faster construction. The panels are typically pre-engineered offsite by a manufacturer where any waste from fabrication can be readily recycled. Once the SIPs are delivered onsite, it’s a fairly simple process of maneuvering the panels and tilting them into position, the process estimated to be as much as 3 times faster than conventional stick frame construction.

Lifting a SIP into place

Lifting a SIP into place

So what’s the catch?

The upfront costs of materials are considerably more for SIPs homes than a conventional framed home. However, once you factor in energy efficiency and performance of the home, the price is close to comparable.

At Fänas Architecture, we have experience using SIPs technology as a building system in several homes. If you are interested in this method of construction, please feel free to get in touch with us by calling 303.444.5380 or emailing us at

Big Green Boulder

Image courtesy Life of an Architect

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