Efficiency and Performance

Energy Efficient

Traditional framing makes buildings vulnerable to energy loss. Walls and ceilings of a conventionally constructed building can contain thousands of cavities, and each must be adequately insulated to stop air flow. Any imperfection and energy loss is sure to occur.

A building's wood frame also conducts heat readily, from its interior to exterior and vice versa, via thermal bridging. Studs and rafters act like a heat pump, slowly but surely robbing the building of energy.

SIPs solve the air leakage, infiltration and thermal bridging issues that plague traditional wood-frame construction. The cavity is filled with solid EPS that's permanently adhered to the OSB facing. Because there is no wood member between the inner and outer OSB, a SIP offers little to no surface area for heat conduction.

Through testing and real world experience, SIPs have been consistently proven to reduce heating and cooling requirements by 50% or more.

Lower Carbon Emissions

The inherent energy efficiency of SIPs has a substantial environmental benefit.

A study by Franklin Associates demonstrated that a modest single-family home constructed with SIPs will, on average, save about 1 ton of carbon dioxide emissions annually compared with a similar stud-framed home.

Manufacture of SIPs is carbon-conscious, too. Consider that:

  • Only about 2% of EPS is plastic. The rest is air.
  • EPS waste is recycled during manufacturing, resulting in about 95% material efficiency.
  • EPS requires 24% less energy to produce than fiberglass with the same R value.
  • OSB is made of fast-growing species harvested from managed forests.
  • About 85-90% of a log is usable to manufacture OSB.

LEED Contribution

SIPs can make a substantial contribution to key categories of the U.S. Green Building Council® LEED® scoring system for commercial, institutional and community Building Design and Construction:

  • Minimum Energy Performance (pre-requisite)
  • Optimize Energy Performance (up to 20 points)
  • Innovation in Design (1 point)

Big Sky has supplied R-Control SIPs for a number of large LEED-certified projects. The building pictured in this section obtained LEED-Gold Certification.

SIPs also make important contributions to nine categories in LEED for Homes, USGBC's residential rating system. Take a look at our tech bulletin on the subject to learn more.

Less Labor Required

Labor availability is one of the big challenges facing the construction industry. SIPs can help ease that pain, with a reduced labor requirement and fewer skilled trades needed to install the building envelope.

An independent time and motion study conducted by R.S. Means concluded using SIPs required 55% less labor for erecting walls, roofs and dormers, compared with conventional construction. Means also found that electrical installation required 11% less labor.

Our contractor partners find that SIPs allow them to get more done with smaller crews.

The ease of install has made SIPs popular with local Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the U.S. Big Sky has a long history of working with HFH, and has supplied projects for about a dozen affiliates in the western U.S.

Downsized HVAC Systems

When properly installed and sealed, R-Control SIPs substantially reduce air infiltration into a building or home. Tests by the DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory indicate that a room with four-inch SIP walls had 90% less air leakage than an identical room with 2x6 studs.

This reduces energy consumption over the life of the building. Since air exchange rate is an important determinant of HVAC loads, there's also an opportunity to save money up front by reducing the size of HVAC systems.

To capture the full value that SIPs provide, it's important to use a data-based, analytical approach to HVAC sizing. The tendency is to oversize the system "just in case." Not only does this cost the owner more at the outset, it picks their pocket with every heat bill, because an oversized system is less efficient than one that's sized "just right."

Return on Investment

SIPs are sometimes characterized as "more expensive" than traditional framing. It's true that their cost upon delivery to the job site is more than the lumber, sheathing, insulation and air barrier they replace. Once installed, though, due to labor savings the cost difference for SIPs is less than 1% of total construction costs. And if the structure is built to IECC 2015 standards, R-Control SIPs' installed cost is less than that of traditional framing.

But the real story is in the life cycle cost. SIPs have consistently demonstrated over 50% heating and cooling cost savings, year after year, in a wide variety of buildings. Over the life of a typical structure, those savings add up to a 38% return on the incremental investment in SIPs. Assuming the structure is built to IECC 2012 standards, the ROI may be as high as 99.5%.

Quality and Performance

R-Control SIPs are made from high-quality, engineered OSB and rigid EPS insulation cut to close tolerances.

They're manufactured under controlled conditions, and inspected for compliance to standards and job specs before they leave the plant. Every panel is marked with the PFS quality seal.

Using R-Control SIPs introduces a level of consistency and reliability that cannot be achieved when framing with dimensional lumber and building onsite. They're straighter when installed and, unlike dimensional lumber, will not warp or buckle over time and under load.

We stand behind the quality of our product with a 20-year warranty for structural and thermal performance.

Design Flexibility

SIPs support your creative instincts.

Our project history includes hundreds of examples of innovative and aesthetic design concepts that used SIPs to achieve the effect.

SIPs can also be combined with other structural systems and techniques to achieve the right effect and specification.