SIPS Briefs May/June 2004

Premier Clears Seismic Hurdle
In early February, Premier Building Systems, or PBS (Renton, WA), gained approval of an appendix into AC 04 which allows the company’s SIPs to be used in all seismic zones. The shearwall tests are part of Premier’s effort to obtain an Evaluation Report through the International Code Council Evaluation Service (ICC-ES). This approval for high-risk seismic zones (Seismic Categories D1, D2, and E) means SIPs can deliver energy-efficient homes for those along the West Coast.

“Now SIPs can be used to build safer residential and commercial buildings in many areas on the West Coast and Alaska where, previously, the codes prevented their use. This is good news for building professionals of all types who want to offer their customers the inherent strength, energy savings and comfort SIP construction provides,” says Ken Hawkins, general manager of PBS.

APAÃ?The Engineered Wood Association (APA) and Tolko Industries aided PBS in its efforts. In APA’s initial testing, it completed a series of cyclic shearwall tests on SIPs, repeatedly subjecting them to varying degrees of load magnitude and amplitude. Then it compared those results to code-accepted, conventional wood-framed shearwalls. The results show that SIPs have cyclic performance characteristics similar to or better than stick-built walls.

“We did cyclic testing and found that it did provide for what’s permitted by the codes for residential construction. Therefore, at the last ICC-ES hearing it was approved as part of the Acceptance Criteria,” explains Tom Williamson, APA’s vice president of quality assurance and technical services.

“The AC04 revision is significant because, in seismic zones other than A, B and C in which SIPs are already approved for use, all the manufacturer has to do is demonstrate that their proprietary panels meet the cyclic load-test criteria established by APA and adopted by the ICC-ES Committee,” says Dr. B.J. Yeh, director of technical services for APA. “As soon as the manufacturer’s test data are recognized by ICC-ES, their SIPs may be marketed everywhere in the U.S., including the previously inaccessible states of Alaska and California,” he adds.

The APA Research Center in Tacoma, WA, is accredited by the International Accreditation Service (IAS), a subsidiary corporation of ICC, and can conduct the cyclic shearwall tests required by AC04 for APA and SIPA members. Technical questions and assistance in scheduling panel tests may be directed to Dr. B.J. Yeh at 253-565-6600.

$92 Heating; $74 Cooling
Despite a rough year of weather in the Tennessee Valley, a test home constructed with SIPs and employing solar-powered technology in Loudon County cost just $92 to heat (including hot water) and $74 to cool for the entire year. These are among the first test results of the first “net zero” test home. A total of three test homes have been built in the same neighborhood. The test homes are being constructed and monitored through a partnership between the Department of Energy Building America Program, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Habitat for Humanity, SIPA and a number of other building industry sponsors.

“If we as society can provide low-income housing at not only zero interest mortgage but also zero energy cost, what a wonderful contribution that would be to the overall mission of Habitat, TVA and the Department of Energy,” says Jeff Christian, director of the Buildings Technology Center at ORNL.

One SIP house uses 6-inch wall and 10-inch roof panels manufactured by Insulspan, Inc. using 1 lb. density EPS foam. Another used 4-inch wall and 6-inch roof panels produced by FischerSIPs with 2 lb. density EPS foam provided by Falcon Foam. The house was wrapped with weather barrier and featured energy-efficient Andersen windows.

Suppliers that have donated materials, time, money, expertise and labor to this project include Andersen Windows, Archbold Container Corp., Ashland Specialty Chemical, Design Basics, Falcon Foam, FishcerSIPs, Inc., Insulspan, Inc., the Metal Roofing Alliance, NOVA Chemicals, Rohm and Haas, Weyerhaeuser and IBACOS, a Building America team.

SIPA Conference Boston Bound May 3-5

The Structural Insulated Panel Association’s (Gig Harbor, WA) annual meeting and conference is headed for Boston May 3-5. This conference is different from its predecessors, starting out with a full day of educational courses that will demonstrate how to build with SIPs. Courses include designing for SIP construction (complete with AIA continuing education credits), engineering requirements, hands-on building techniques, marketing of high-tech building systems to consumers, HVAC design, plumbing and electrical strategies. The other two days will include seminars on the women’s points of view in home buying, marketing to consumers, building excellence awards, OSB issues, Energy Star programs, mortgage programs for energy-efficient homes and more.

For details, call 253-858-7472 or visit

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