Picking SIPs Is Like Picking a Cooler

Picking a structural insulated panel and picking a cooler…not two things you’d normally connect. But they actually share a lot in common. Let’s start with coolers. They generally use either expanded polystyrene (EPS) or polyurethane foam. EPS models are the common “throw-away” coolers found in grocery stores – plain white and not very sturdy.

EPS coolerEPS cooler

Top-of-the-line coolers from brands like Igloo or YETI use polyurethane foam. These coolers are sturdier and can keep items cold for up to seven days. They work better because the polyurethane foam allows for better construction and, most importantly, better performance.

polyurethane coolerPolyurethane cooler

Now here’s the connection between coolers and structural insulated panels: There are two types of SIPs, as well – EPS and polyurethane. They differ significantly when it comes to R-value and their response to fire. The R-value of EPS foam is just 3.8 per inch; polyurethane foam has an R-value of 6.9 per inch. While EPS softens at around 180 degrees and completely melts when exposed to flame, Thermocore SIPs made with polyurethane NEVER melt. In fact, we add a fire-retardant to make the foam self-extinguishing.

When choosing your structural insulated panels, think about how you’d choose a cooler. Do you want the option that won’t last as long or work as well? Or do you want to invest in something that makes a big difference in performance and your long-term return?

Energy-Efficient Homes Bring Higher Sale Prices

You might expect that if you sell your energy-efficient SIPs home, prospective buyers will appreciate the monthly savings on their utility bills. In fact, according to a recent report from the North Carolina Building Performance Association (NCBPA), high-performance homes garnered an average 9.5% premium. Using the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index (a way to quantify how much energy you save), the study showed a strong correlation between lower HERS scores and higher total sale prices and prices per square foot.

Guess what? Homes built with Thermocore structural insulated panels consistently score lower on the HERS Index – which means a higher expected return if you ever choose to leave your comfortable, energy-efficient SIPs home. The NCBPA’s report studied three North Carolina metro areas, but experience shows the same results across the country. A higher sale price is just one more payback from your Thermocore SIPs investment.

Energy Efficiency and Magazine-Worthy Design

When Jamie and Simon Sangar decided to build a modern, energy-efficient home in Indianapolis, they carefully considered options to meet their dreams for design and functionality, while staying within their budget. The resulting three-story home turned out so well that Indianapolis Monthly magazine featured it as Home of the Month in their January 2018 issue.

In choosing what to cut and what to keep in their budget, the Sangars included Thermocore structural insulated wall and roof panels. “Choosing Thermocore SIPs meant that our walls were built indoors in a factory, unexposed to the weather elements, and then delivered on two semis to the job site,” Jamie said. “A crane and a framing crew set the walls, which drastically cut down on framing labor and time.”

In her Mod Abode blog, Jamie added, “All of our electrical and window/door rough opens were cut by computers, taking the human error factor out of the equation. Conduit is run through the foam wall panels where electrical is needed, structural headers are placed inside the wall panels where needed above windows and doors, and extra support can be planned within the walls if you know that you’re going to have something heavy to hang (for example, our bathroom floating cabinets).”

The Sangar’s SIPs decision means lasting payback. “In the coldest of winter months, our heating bill is $40 to heat our entire 3,600 square foot home!” Jamie said. “We’re very happy customers and would highly recommend Thermocore SIPs for future projects!”

Come See Us

Want to see what Thermocore SIPs can do for you? Need tips to make your timber frame or log home more efficient and easier to build? Visit us at one of these Johnson’s Log Home and Timber Frame Consumer Expos:

Grand Rapids, MI
November 10 – November 12, 2017
Deltaplex Conference Center
West River Hall

Allentown, PA
January 5 – January 7, 2018
Allentown Fairgrounds
Agri-Plex Annex

Columbus, OH
January 26 – January 28, 2018
Ohio State Fairgrounds
Rhodes Center Building

Visit Johnson’s Log Home and Timber Frame Shows for tickets.

No Limits

Don’t let anyone tell you that building with SIPs puts any limits on architecture. With Thermocore’s customized structural insulated panels, Indianapolis design firm One 10 Studio has won numerous awards for both residential and commercial projects.

A 3,300 square-foot home they designed in Bloomington, Indiana, won the 2015 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Indiana Merit Award. The SIPs also helped minimize irritations for neighbors. “That was a relatively tight lot, and Thermocore’s SIPs installers were able to come in very quickly and efficiently and get the shell up in just a couple days, as opposed to having framers out there banging wood together for weeks,” said Patrick Kestner, project manager and associate at One 10 Studio.

On the commercial side, the firm designed a $1.2 million, two-story office building for Reliant Partners in Indianapolis. That project won the 2016 Indy Chamber Monumental Merit Award for Architecture and the 2016 AIA Indiana Citation Award. “Reliant Partners wanted something well-designed, but they were also looking to keep operating expenses to a minimum,” Patrick said. “With Thermocore structural insulated wall and roof panels, they saw the value and the payoff of using more sustainable systems.”

One 10 Studio’s design for Irvington Lofts—two three-story buildings with 50 affordable housing units near downtown Indianapolis—won the 2017 AIA Indianapolis Citation Award, 2015 AIA Indiana Honor Award, 2015 Lt. Governor’s Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing–Urban, and 2014 Indy Chamber Monumental Merit Awards for Neighborhood Revitalization and for Real Estate Development. “Constructability and the economics of SIPs definitely played a part, especially for the Lt. Governor’s and Indy Chamber awards,” Patrick said.

Building with SIPs not only reduces energy costs and provides a more comfortable environment—it also supports some of the best architecture around. (See One 10 Studio’s case study.)

SIPs Construction Survives Massive Winds

When a “microburst” (massive, sudden winds during a thunderstorm) hit Evanston, Illinois, trees crashed down, sidewalks buckled, and part of a hospital roof flew off. But the Thermocore home almost finished with installation of R-40, 6 1/2” structural insulated wall panels and R-50, 8 1/4” structural insulated roof panels suffered zero damage. As crews worked to clear the city’s streets, the builder lost no time completing this home. I think that’s a testament to the strength of Thermocore SIPs, great SIPs installation, and effective planning by the structural engineer. After the fire that destroyed this homeowner’s previous residence, they sure were happy that this home stood strong!

For photos of this SIPs home right after the storm, check out Thermocore’s Recent Projects.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Or maybe it’s unseasonably warm today. If there’s anything you can count on, it’s unpredictable weather. You can also count on super insulated Thermocore SIPs to maintain your ideal indoor temperature no matter how much ice, cold, or surprising weather Old Man Winter throws at you. With the holidays behind us, the next couple months typically bring some of the coldest weather. When it comes to fighting back against chilly temperatures and high utility bills, Thermocore’s structural insulated wall panel system provides a powerful weapon. If you’re entering into the building process, start with the environmentally friendly building envelope that brings savings as well as the fastest way to frame and insulate. The process is simple. Just email your plans for a free, no obligation quote on Thermocore SIPs. You’ve got nothing to lose and lots of warmth and savings to gain.

SIPs and the Island “Buildstyle”

Thermocore Panel Systems recently completed a fifth SIPs home on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Though not our highest concentration of SIPs homes, for an island it’s tops! As crews completed installation of Thermocore insulated wall and roof panels in less than a week, I was struck by the difference between building on mainland vs. an island. Consider that all the materials for this home had to be moved to the island by ferry. That makes efficiency extremely important. With Thermocore insulated roof and wall panels, the builder ferried the framing and insulation in one product—precut so there’s no waste. How much less waste might be generated if you knew you’d have to ferry it away? Maybe the laid-back island lifestyle isn’t the only thing worthy of dreams. Couldn’t the efficient island “buildstyle” benefit the environment and all homeowners’ wallets?

Why 30 Is Better than 70

Every homeowner has a list of priorities for a new home. If you’re reading this, energy efficiency probably made your list. The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index gives you a way to quantify how much energy—and money—you’ll save.

A new graphic from the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), the nonprofit organization that created the HERS Index, shows the range of possibilities. A home built to the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code receives a HERS rating of 100. According to RESNET, homes that score 70 on the HERS Index are 30 percent more energy-efficient than that reference home. Sounds pretty good, right? But why stop there? The lower the HERS score, the more energy and money saved—and homes built with Thermocore structural insulated panels score in the low 30s on the HERS Index!

Sixteen percent of greenhouse gases generated in the U.S. come from residential homes. When you build with Thermocore SIPs, your energy-efficient home helps save the world and fill your wallet.

A Cut Above

What makes Thermocore structural insulated wall and roof panels “a cut above”?  Figuratively, we could give you many reasons. But quite literally, it’s the CNC cutting process used in the manufacturing of our SIPs. CNC stands for “Computer Numeric Controlled,” and it’s simply the most accurate way to cut materials. Thermocore began utilizing CNC cutting 14 years ago. Prior to that we hand-measured and hand-cut panels, as many SIPs manufacturers still do. But our CNC machine is always accurate to 1/32nd of an inch across an entire 24-foot insulated panel. We even double-check accuracy by reviewing CNC files. For each project, we customize the CNC settings to meet the specifications of your building plans. That precision makes Thermocore SIPs installation faster, easier, and less expensive, with no extra time or labor trying to get the pieces to fit right at the jobsite.

Our CNC machine doesn’t just cut the outline of structural insulated panels. Thermocore also incorporates electrical boxes and conduits standard with every insulated panel system, and our CNC machine precisely cuts the location of each electrical box and draws with a marking pen all the conduit runs. Your electrician will have an easier job and the envelope of your home will remain true to your exact requirements.

Not all structural insulated panel companies utilize CNC cutting, so it pays to ask. For better home construction, hand-cut your stakes; CNC cut your SIPs.