SIPA Excellence Awards
Winners of the Structural Insulated Panel Association (SIPA) Building Excellence Awards were announced at the organization’s annual meeting and conference, held May 3-5 in Boston.

The competition consisted of five categories that reflect the versatility of SIPs as a building system. All the projects, built with a minimum of 50% SIPs, were judged on energy efficiency, design and structural engineering innovation. “Not only did SIPA members demonstrate true building excellence in these projects, but the diversity of SIPs use was outstanding,” says Bill Wachtler, SIPA executive director. “The diverse winners included an SIP house with curved roofs, a fraternity house, a barn from the 1800s renovated with SIPs, a log home, a country club with curved porticos, a 163,000 sq.ft. business park, a retail winery shop and a college dorm-all built with SIPs.”

This year’s Over-All Competition Winner from the Industrial/ Institutional/Commercial category was The EcoDorm at Warren Wilson College, designed and submitted by Samsel Architects, P.A. The lead architect on the project, Duncan McPherson, says energy efficiency was the primary motivation of the client.

“The building envelope is the most critical component of an energy-efficient building and structural insulated panels ensure an airtight envelope and continuous thermal insulation with fewer thermal breaks when compared to stick-frame construction,” McPherson says. “This fact, as well as the speed of installation, convinced the building owners that SIPs were an ideal material for this project.”

Built with panels manufactured by Insulspan, Inc. and built by Blue Ridge Energy Systems, this 9,000 sq.ft. dormitory will house 36 students while reinforcing the environmental values and principles of the college. The EcoDorm saves the college nearly $3K a year in operating costs.

The competition’s Most Unique Application Using SIPs award went to Face Design for the Branford Point Residence, in the single-family home (over 3,000 sq.ft.) category. The judges chose this entry for its curved SIP roof, metal frame/SIP hybrid construction and many other amenities.

This unique home features 5,200 sq.ft. of space wrapped in modern elegance. The parameters motivating the use of SIPs were reduced construction time, reduced labor costs, flexibility in configuration, energy efficiency, reduced maintenance, 40′ clear spans, fire resistance and environmental accountability. Using SIPs helped Face Design achieve all its objectives without limiting the design.

In the single family home (under 3,000 sq.ft.) category, the winner was The Hartshorn House, built by A. Rossetto Construction. This 1,900 sq.ft. single-family home features a verified Five Star Energy Star rating. It won this category based on its combined use of high-tech building components, including SIPs provided by PanelPros, Inc., solar domestic hot water, radiant heat, high energy-efficient U-12 windows, ICF foundation, fiber-cement siding and trim, and 50-year-rated shingles. The whole building package gives the building a 95.3 HERS rating-“the most energy efficient home built in Vermont,” claims the builder.

Energy Panel Structures submitted the entry titled Ape House/Lucy Project at Iowa University, which won the multifamily/commercial building category. Completed in February 2003, this fraternity house project had a quick 90-day completion period. Energy savings were also a key factor in choosing SIPs for the project. “Overall, I’m quite pleased. The first floor went up in two days and the second floor in one day. The final product is very stout and will be very energy efficient,” says Gary Klinefelte, the building’s owner.

In the agricultural structures, the winner was the Morley Builders for the T.Babel/Beggs’ Barn. This project also received an Honorable Mention as the Most Unique Application using SIPs. The owner of the building-a barn originally constructed in 1847 in Pennsylvania-wanted an authentic looking barn inside and out, but with the modern convenience of tight energy-efficient construction.

Builder Michael Morley convinced the building owner that the project could achieve all his requirements for maintaining the look and feel of the circa 1847 building by installing SIPs to strengthen and square up the crooked oak frame. Morley then used the antique barn siding and interior barn wood to clad the SIPs to maintain the original look. “The entire project is like a super-insulated SIP sandwich. It is ready for another 100 years of service,” says Morley.

For more details about these projects, as well as all the runners up in each category, visit or contact the SIPA office at 253-858-7472.