A Serious Challenge to a New Building Technology

January/February 2003
A version of this article appears in the January/February 2003 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
Click here to read more articles about Roof & Attic
January 01, 2003
        Every new building technology comes with new problems along with its benefits, and structural insulated panels (SIPs) are no different. SIPs are made of rigid foam insulation sandwiched between sheets of oriented strand board (OSB).The sheets of OSB act as load-bearing members, so there is no need for framing, which saves wood. SIPs can produce a very tight and wellinsulated building envelope when properly sealed (see “The Lowdown on Structural Insulated Panels,”HE Jan/Feb ’02, p. 38). But therein lies the problem. When the joints are not properly sealed, air and water vapor infiltration, especially in cold climates, can lead to disaster.         The catastrophic failure of 109 SIPsbuilt residential units in Juneau,Alaska highlights the challenges associated with building with SIPs. Failures that I’ve identified since March 2001 include roof and wall failures; the structures involved range from single-family houses to15- unit apartment buildings. A study of 37 roof failures pointed to poor installation as the major culprit (see “A Problem with Poor Installation?”). But as a project manager in identifying the 109 failures and in erecting 21 replacement roofs, I’ve discovered problems ...

To read complete online articles, you need to sign up for an Online Subscription.

Once an order has been placed there is an automatic $10 processing fee that will be deducted with any cancellation.

The Home Energy Online articles are for personal use only and may not be printed for distribution. For permission to reprint, please send an e-mail to

Earn BPI CEU credits
Home Performance with EnergyStar
SPONSORED CONTENT Home Diagnosis: The First TV Series about Home Energy! Learn more! Watch Video
Email Newsletter

Home Energy E-Newsletter

Sign up for our free monthly

Harness the power of

Get the Home Energy