Continuous SIPs Improvement

Continuous improvement requires many steps, always moving forward. Over the 16 years that Thermocore Panel Systems has manufactured structural insulated panels, we covered a lot of ground with our steps. Before I tell you about our latest development, let me share a recap of what’s made Thermocore the SIPs innovation leader.

Years ago, we were the first company to introduce pre-cut/pre-bucked structural insulated panels that speed construction. Thermocore also was the first to integrate electrical boxes and conduit in SIPs based on your custom building plan, making the electrician’s job faster and easier. In 2010, Thermocore patented four-inch R-24 insulated wall panels, the highest R-value to work seamlessly with standard 4 9/16-inch window jambs. Thermocore then pushed the insulation envelope further in introducing 8 1/4-inch R-50 insulated roof panels that maximize energy efficiency without adding bulk to roof structures.

But there’s always more ground to cover with SIPs improvements. Thermocore recently incorporated second-generation polyurethane foam from BASF that’s even more environmentally friendly. This innovative insulating foam allows for flatter, more stable wall and roof panels that make construction easier, quicker, and sturdier. Sure, the new foam is a little more expensive in our custom manufacturing process—but you won’t see any price increases. It’s our investment in customer satisfaction, the environment, and continuous SIPs improvement.

We’ll continue working hard to be good stewards of the environment while bringing the best innovations to the building community.

How Standard Options Hurt Fuel Economy

We’ve all had the experience of buying a car, new or otherwise. Many of us search the web to find the best model for the best price. We look at features. We probably check fuel economy, too, because today’s global marketplace has taught us that we do not in any way control how much we pay for fuel.

Now imagine your research shows that the tires offered as standard in the car industry reduce fuel mileage by over 25%. Let’s say you also find a new, advanced tire that guarantees not to cost gas mileage like the old technology, and most likely increases fuel economy. Wouldn’t you wonder why car manufacturers haven’t made this new tire standard equipment?

That’s exactly what’s happening with traditional exterior wall framing. Using studs and other materials creates what’s commonly referred to as the “framing factor,” which can knock more than 25% off the R-value of whatever insulating materials you use. Who can afford to give up 25% in fuel economy, whether it’s your home or your car?

In the tire example, the alternative was hypothetical. In construction, SIPs provide a real alternative to traditional framing. SIPs not only eliminate the 25% framing-factor loss, but also increase R-value over a standard wall. Before you invest in a new home, make sure your builder or manufacturer knows about the options to “standard equipment.” Share with them and get your 25% back.

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.

The Biggest Offender in Energy Consumption

Many people point their fingers at automobiles as the biggest offenders in energy consumption and pollution. But surprisingly, the biggest enemies of energy conservation are actually buildings, both commercial and residential.

Think about it…your furnace or air conditioner runs 24 hours a day for most of the year. On the other hand, your car gets you where you need to be, then stops. Most vehicles spend the night parked in a garage, while our furnaces and air conditioners plow on. But hybrid and electric cars make for great press.

The real energy villain is your own house–or to break it down further, the WALLS of your house. This fact was brought to light by Jan Kosny, Ph.D., of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In a presentation published February 14, 2008, Kosny clearly shows through extensive hot-box testing that air leaks from wind pressure, combined with convection from studs, transfer enough energy to reduce the R-value of a wall 30 to 45 percent. According to Kosny, just the convection effect of studs increases a home’s overall energy demand by 10 to 12 percent.

The moral of the story? Sure, we want to conserve gas with more efficient vehicles. But build your exterior walls without studs, and you save 10 to 12 percent on energy bills. I’d rather focus my attention on the biggest offender and the greatest return in energy savings.