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.

Mortgage Risk Shrinks with Energy-Efficient Buildings

So it’s not just me. Jen Alic, a blogger for The Christian Science Monitor, says, “Here’s some new impetus for those sitting on the fence over household energy efficiency: The risk of mortgage default is one-third lower for people with energy-efficient homes, according to a recent study.”

The research by the University of North Carolina’s Center for Community Capital provides the first real academic link between mortgages and energy efficiency, but it proves my favorite point: SIPs and other smart energy-saving features just make your financial situation better.

In the study, houses with lower HERS scores showed a lower mortgage-default risk. After all, when you save hundreds of dollars on energy costs each month, it becomes much easier to make your mortgage payments—and still have money for other priorities.

Homes built with Thermocore structural insulated panels consistently score lower on the HERS index. A normal HERS rating is 100; the Energy Star standard is 70. Bart Rynish of Barton Designs achieved a HERS rating of 35 with Thermocore SIPs. After Art Smith of Rocky Ridge Designs received a HERS rating of 67, he found that his SIPs home actually consumed less than half the predicted amount of energy in its first year.

Despite what some may say, building with structural insulated panels does not cost more than traditional building methods. There are so many reasons to build green. Now we have proof that using SIPs and other energy-efficient features also protects your mortgage.

How the American Dream Home Spells Doom

What symbolizes success? A big home and a nice car? They may look good, but they mean bad news for our future.

Sprawling, two-story, conventionally built homes guzzle more energy than the worst cars on the road—but they don’t grab near as much attention. How much energy will our generation waste?

In the book Building Today’s Green Home: Practical, Cost-Effective, and Eco-Responsible Homebuilding, Art Smith says, “I was told, ‘We don’t build homes THAT WAY around here. Curb appeal only is what sells houses.’ I was advised that homes had to be large to be good…But, what is real now? Our global warming and rising costs situation are not just passing, they are the future reality. Building green should not be just the latest fad–it is a wise thing to do…We can choose to be smart or we can choose to leave a mess for our children.”

I want to clean up that mess. Green home building makes sense now and for the earth’s future.

(Read more about Art Smith’s experience with Thermocore SIPs here.)

Urban, Affordable SIPs Homes…Who Knew?

I hate stereotypes. Many people think of SIPs homes as rustic. True, SIPs are used a lot in timber framing. But SIPs add energy efficiency to many other residential and commercial buildings, too. And they’re definitely not expensive, as much of the construction market seems to think.

Architectural designer Brian Burtch is breaking the stereotypes. He’s designing and building an affordable, energy-efficient, modern home in the eclectic Fountain Square neighborhood in downtown Indianapolis.

Guess what he chose for the building envelope? (Thermocore SIPs, in case that wasn’t obvious.) On Brian’s blog, he explained:

The panels are manufactured in the factory and will come to the site and be tilted into place. As a result, they allow for more precise construction practices, quicker on-site construction, and less waste. Finally, the panels allow for a much greater insulation value than traditional 2×4 framing, achieving an R-24 in a 4″ thick panel as opposed to around an R-13 for a traditional wall.

If you live in the area, come see Brian’s design during the Architects’ Home Tour, hosted by the American Institute of Architects Indianapolis, September 22-23. It’ll be one of just seven homes on the biennial tour. See for yourself how wrong stereotypes can be.

Paradigm Buster

One of our customers, John Young, calls this the construction paradigm: How do you balance quality, speed, and cost? To maximize one, you usually have to sacrifice the other two.

But John calls Thermocore SIPs the paradigm buster. “It’s all three–good, fast, and inexpensive,” he said. (Read more about John’s experience with Thermocore SIPs here.)

Why settle? Especially when you can make your life easier AND save money?

Lots of people resist change. They think if they’ve been stick building for years, it must be the best way. But if that logic applies, why do we use the Internet? I used a typewriter in high school, but computers sure make my life easier now.

I’ll admit that SIPs construction is different from traditional construction. It’s faster and easier. It results in a much sturdier building and cuts energy costs. No one has yet convinced me that’s a bad thing.