Clients: Robert and Martha Pfeffer
Project Type: Residential Building
Square Footage: 4000 sq ft
SIP Benefits / Energy Savings: Reduced HVAC requirements and significantly lowered monthly utility bills
Designer/Builder: Douglas Dank Associates
Before constructing his new home with Douglas Danks Associates in Minnesota, Robert Pfeffer performed a cost-benefit analysis comparing the investment in upgrades such as Structural Insulated Panels to standard construction and its affect on future operating costs.
He chose Thermocore SIPs. “To me, it was good business,” Robert said. “It made more sense to invest the money in the house now and reduce our ongoing costs in the future.”
The 4,000 square-foot SIPs home designed by Doug Danks in North Oaks, Minn., was featured in a four-part segment of a syndicated TV program highlighting green construction, and will soon appear in Luxury Homes Quarterly magazine. Since moving into the home three years ago, Robert and his wife Martha have enjoyed significantly lower utility bills each month, thanks to the SIPs, a ground source heat pump system and LED lighting.
“It made absolute sense to them as a business model to invest in this really high-quality, energy-efficient construction now and lower their operating expenses in the future,” Doug said. “It bears out the fact that what you invest today—even if it’s a slight premium over standard construction—in the end saves a ton of money.”
Doug first became concerned about resource usage and sustainable building in graduate school two decades ago. He designed his first SIPs project in 1997 and now uses Thermocore insulated panels almost exclusively.
“I continue incorporating Thermocore SIPs because of the quality of the product,” he said. “I’ve done many comparisons with styrene foam-based panels and just wasn’t happy with their systems. They’re more piecemeal in terms of panel configurations. Thermocore SIPs deliver a turnkey system—entire wall sections with window and door openings integrated in a large panel.”
That turnkey system helps Doug’s contractors, too. “From what I’ve experienced with other Structural Insulated Panels where you pull wires through a channel, it just isn’t very friendly for electrical contractors. With Thermocore’s integration of the electrical systems in terms of device locations, switch boxes and conduits, I always hear from my electrical contractors how much easier it is to work with.”
Doug also appreciates the strength of Thermocore SIPs. “Thermocore’s polyurethane foam bonds itself to the OSB skins,” Doug said. “I’ve been concerned about having styrene foams adhesive-adhered to OSB. Thermocore offers a much stronger panel in terms of the integrity of the bond. Definitely it’s much stronger than conventional wood framing.”
In addition, Thermocore SIPs stand up stronger in extreme conditions, whether that’s Minnesota’s cold climate or unexpected blazes. “I like the fact that Thermocore’s polyurethane-insulated panels have a much higher flashpoint than styrene-based foams,” Doug said. “It’s a safer material to incorporate if there’s the unfortunate event of a fire.”
The strength of Thermocore Structural Insulated Panels helped give the Pfeffers their sustainable dream home. “We wanted a house with a life of 100 to 150 years, not 50,” Martha said. “We’ve all had houses that drive you crazy because they always need maintenance or some major upgrade. Most of the stick-built houses just aren’t built that well.” With the strength of maintenance-free Thermocore SIPs, the Pfeffer’s home will outlast those other homes—and cost much less along the way!
"We wanted a house with a life of 100 to 150 years, not 50.”
-Martha Pfeffer, Homeowner in North Oaks, Minnesota