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 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?

Renewed Tax Credit

Congress has passed 45L tax credit which allows for $2,000.00 tax credit for building with Thermocore Panels.  This is an extension of the Energy Efficient Home credit.  Here is the gist of it…..

45L Tax Credit

Recent tax legislation extended the Energy Efficient Home Credit which offers a 45L Tax Credit of $2,000 per dwelling unit to developers of energy efficient apartment buildings and homes.

Eligible 45L Tax Credit Apartment Buildings & Condos:
A dwelling unit should provide a level of heating and cooling energy consumption that is significantly less than certain national energy standards, dependent on when the unit is sold or leased. Based on current construction trends, many developments already exceed these standards. Given that current energy codes have evolved tremendously over the past five years, many developers are already building to specifications that would meet the criteria for this credit. All apartment buildings and residential condominium developments completed within the last 4 years are worth assessing for potential 45L tax credits. Eligible construction also includes substantial reconstruction and rehabilitation. Developers can still claim the 45L tax credit retroactively if they did not claim them on previous tax returns.

Who can benefit?

Apartment, Condominium, and Single-Family Residence Developers.
The Energy Efficient Home Credit offers a tax credit of $2,000 per dwelling unit to developers of energy efficient buildings completed after August 8, 2005. The following types of projects should be considered:

 Affordable housing (LIHTC)  Rehabilitation
 Apartment buildings  Residential condominiums
 Assisted living housing  Student housing
 Production home developments  Substantial reconstruction

Sample Benefits:

50 qualified units = $100,000 in 45L tax credits
100 qualified units = $200,000 in 45L tax credits
1000 qualified units = $2,000,000 in 45L tax credits

How SIPs and Energy-Efficient Financing Upgrade Your Home

Turns out SIPs not only save money in energy costs, they also help you afford a nicer home! According to an article about financing energy-efficient homes on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website, an energy-efficient mortgage (EEM) can help you qualify for a more expensive home.

How does it work? To verify energy savings, EEM lenders consider the HERS rating from a home energy audit. The smaller the number on your HERS report the better—and homes built with Thermocore structural insulated panels consistently score lower on the HERS index. For instance, Bart Rynish of Barton Designs achieved a HERS rating of 35 with Thermocore SIPs, saving the homeowner hundreds of dollars per year on heating bills.

Lenders figure the less you spend on utility bills, the more you can afford for mortgage payments when you build, remodel, or refinance. Not only will you enjoy the comfortable temperatures, quiet, and sturdiness of your Thermocore SIPs home, you’ll relax in upgraded livings spaces thanks to energy-efficient financing.

SIPs and Global Warming

The Federal Government just put forth another round of global warming information. Did you read it? Do you care? Most people say they do care. Unfortunately, most people’s actions say they don’t care.

We now live in a world where it’s possible to get 40 miles per gallon in our cars and consume 1/3 less energy in our buildings. But both options take an upfront investment—something most people aren’t doing, despite the long-term savings.

No one says they want their children to inherit a world that’s warmer and more polluted. However, without action, the experts agree that’s where we’re headed. If that does become the future, how will later generations view us? We recognize the problem but are unwilling to take steps to correct it.

I’m much better at asking questions (the easy part) than providing answers (the hard part)—until it comes to building. Structural insulated panels are a significant answer to much of the global warming process. Surely too bold a statement. Until you consider this:

  • SIPs use OSB instead of studs for structure, meaning up to 35% less lumber with SIPs vs. stick framing. Leave the trees in the ground where they do the most good at protecting the Earth and our future!
  • Buildings with structural insulated panels use less energy than stick-framed structures. Period. No debate. More SIPs equals less energy used.

Structural insulated panels can and will reduce global warming…as long as you choose to build with them.

SIPs Contribute Energy Efficiency for New Apartment Complex

Here’s an example of Thermocore SIPs in a unique commercial application:

Irvington Lofts, designed by One 10 Studio, provides housing for moderate-income residents in a historic neighborhood near downtown Indianapolis. Thermocore SIPs helped achieve multiple goals of the project. “We utilized six-and-a-half-inch insulated wall panels on the first floor for structural issues, with four-inch panels on the upper floors,” said Patrick Kestner, One 10 Studio project manager and associate. “That allowed us to stay at the budget number we needed, but also provide the energy efficiency we wanted.”

The contemporary-style apartment complex will receive a Silver rating under the National Association of Home Builders Green Building Standard. “Obviously, the SIPs are huge in being able to achieve that, since they’re the building envelope,” Kestner said.

Read more about One 10 Studio’s experience with Thermocore structural insulated panels. It’s not just homeowners who get energy savings in a quieter, sturdier structure!

How Will Adding HERS Scores to the MLS Affect the Housing Market?

This is a great question posed in a recent news article. There has been a national push to include Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index scores in real estate listings (often referred to as the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS). In essence, a home’s energy performance will be included along with the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. That’s the equivalent of putting the yellow ENERGY STAR rating sheet, commonly seen on appliances, onto your home.

Why is this important? Energy costs directly affect your monthly cash flow and your ability to pay your mortgage. Knowing these costs and how they compare to other homes in the area helps identify the best deal and allows homeowners to budget all their expenses.

Most importantly, the HERS rating will help recoup the money you spend on energy-efficient construction. Items like LED lighting and energy-efficient appliances have no effect; a HERS rating only reflects heating and cooling expenses—the major costs in home ownership. Unlike other eye-candy types of upgrades, investments in energy-efficient construction can now be measured and shown as an asset to a home’s value.

The easiest and most cost-effective way to improve a home’s HERS rating—and increase resale value—is to lower energy demand. Of course, one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to lower demand is to build with structural insulated panels (SIPs) like Thermocore.

Making Green Building an Easier Sell

When I hear people in the construction industry say they can’t sell customers on the idea of green building, I wonder what exactly they’re trying to sell.

After designing with Thermocore SIPs, Patrick Kestner, project manager and associate with One 10 Studio in Indianapolis, shared, “When we can say you’ll get a quieter building that exceeds energy code by more than double and you’ll get payback in a couple of years with utility bills at 30 percent less, that definitely gets the attention of both residential and commercial clients.” (Read more about Patrick’s experience with Thermocore structural insulated panels here.)

Even if you’re not interested in helping the earth, who doesn’t want to save money?

Who Drives Change?

Have you ever stopped to wonder how real change comes about?

According to marketing experts, most new products are picked up by people referred to as “early adopters.” These consumers like to be out ahead of the curve, don’t mind a little risk, and–most importantly–think independently. They’re not influenced by the status quo. Early adopters document the truth and spread it to the masses.

We’ve all completed difficult projects, then later discovered a new tool or method that would have saved time and effort. Unfortunately, construction remains one of the greatest defenders of the status quo. Change comes painfully slowly and, for the most part, only when drawn into the market by the end user. Construction is very much a “pull” rather than a “push” market. Rarely do you see builders bringing the latest and greatest to the table.

Think about house framing, which hasn’t changed in over 100 years. Think about home insulation; the bulk of the market is fiberglass batts, which have been around for more than 60 years. These two components make up the structure and energy efficiency of your new home–with technology that’s decades old! What other areas of your house use technology that old? Is it because nothing else is available? Is it because no other alternatives have been approved? NO. For instance, I happen to know of some pretty easy-to-use, energy-efficient structural insulated panels!

There are many improvements available to the current standard of stick building and batt insulation. The question then becomes, “How do we get these technologies into the mainstream?” The answer is an educated consumer. Do your Google research about SIPs and other alternatives and bring the data to your builder. Ask him why he’s not using more modern techniques and technologies like structural insulated panels. If he refuses to listen, move on to someone who WILL do the research and listen. Remember: The consumer drives change, so let’s get behind the wheel.