About Energy Efficient Construction
So what does it really mean to build an energy efficient building? How can you quantify the true meaning of building efficiently? In the end, how can you be sure your building was built so that it performs efficiently? These are all excellent questions, and there are multiple answers for each. We will start with the building techniques, as they all differ in their efficiency at the most basic level. When most people think about energy efficiency, in particular with their own home, they will ultimately conclude with adding additional insulation as well as sealing up any “leaky” areas within the home. This is a basic principal of energy efficiency in that the shell, or exterior structure, of the building is what is supposed to contain your conditioned air and thus maintain a stable and level temperature within. In the winter, it holds all that nice warm air within the building, and in the summer keeps the warm air from entering. The R-value, or the value of your building to resist the transfer of this energy (heat in this case), is a quantitative value that is placed on your insulating materials so they can be used in the calculation of the efficiency of the building.
However, as with anything, there are always other items to take into consideration. For one, there are many types of insulation out there, and R-values are not the only item to consider. Take one of the most common insulations, fiberglass batting that you can easily purchase at any local home improvement store. You can purchase various thicknesses, and generally the ticker the higher the R-value, but fiberglass is also a fibrous material and thus does not stop the movement of air. So, in the presence of air transfer, the R-value cannot be computed. That is not the case with our Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). The core of the panel is comprised of Expanded Polystyrene and every seem between the panels has 4 seals to ensure the absence of air movement. This is one of many reasons why SIPs are truly energy efficient and will out perform a traditionally build home.
Compare These Two Pictures
Take a look at the 2 pictures above for an example. On the left we have a standard "Stick Built" house using standard Fiberglass Insulation, and on the right is one of our homes built using Structural Insulated Panels. These pictures were taken on the same morning with frost clinging to the siding. Where there is heat transferred, you can clearly see where the frost had melted and was dripping off the siding. This takes place where ever there is a thermal bridge that can allow the transfer of heat. With that in mind, I think it is obvious that you can tell that this occurs at every location that is without a thermal break, or in other words, when there is only wood in-between the outside and inside of the walls. Each stud within the wall acts as a thermal bridge, allowing the wicking of heat out of the house and thus melting the frost on the siding. This transfer of heat only occurs on the SIP wall where there is bearing points, or in the case of our photo, at 2 distinct vertical location on the west wall.