Europe is ready to build with SIP panels

June 13, 2017

Designers, architects and constructors discover the possibilites of buildings made with Structural Insulated Panels (SIP panels). This phenomenon comes from North America and it is for years a big success in the entire  industry! The construction method is widely applied in applied in Canada, USA and in Mexico as well. Also on the European continent you will find more and more construction companies who design and build with this concept: will Europe (and the rest of the world of course) follow the big success of America?

Animation of SIP Construction (source YouTube: sips.org)

 

Constructions with SIP panels

SIP stands for Structural Insulating Panels. It is also known as a sandwich panel. A SIP panel consists of at least three parts. By combining an inner and outer board with a core of insulation, a SIP building system generates a wall with high strength and rigidity properties. This system is used for both bearing and non-supporting walls, but also for roofs. SIPs are high performance building systems for residential and light commercial construction. The result is a building system that is extremely strong, energy efficient and cost effective.

structure of a SIP panel

MgO and EPS insulation material

 

Core – Insulation

Many insulation options are available for a sandwich panel, we describe three of them: EPS, PIR and PUR.

✔ EPS is the abbreviation of Expanded Poly Styrene. It is a material that we encounter daily in our lives. Expanded polystyrene, commonly known just as styrene foam. It is mainly used in insulation materials, and because of its special properties, as well as packaging, ground, road and water engineering.

✔ PUR consists of a two-component sprayed foam that consists of: polyol and isocyanate. It has a high lambda value, and therefore defines heat loss in an excellent way. It is a widely applied insulation material. This is a CFC-free product and therefore environmentally friendly. The polyurethane foam adheres to almost any material. In addition, it is easy to use.

✔ PIR, or polyisocyanurate, is a plastic that is made specifically for insulation. PIR differs from PUR due to increased fire safety, especially in the field of flue gas development. In addition, the material absorbs no moisture. However, the main difference is the even higher insulation value of 0.023 – 0.026 W / Mk. For comparison: take glass or rock wool with a value of 0.040. PIR isolates approximately 1.7 times better for the same thickness. An exterior wall that is insulated with PIR remains relatively thin and has a excellent insulation.

Obviously, many other insulation materials are possible. An important aspect is that each insulation material has its own heat resistance, fire resistance and of course price.

Facings – Magnesium oxide boards

We were talking about the insulation, now we treat the outer two layers of the SIP panel. Most common is oriented strand board (OSB) used for the facings. But why not using MgO?
By gluing magnesium oxide (MgO) boards on either side of the insulation material, you will have an insulating panel. For convenience, we are talking about MgO sheeting material, which is also the chemical designation. One of the many unique features of MgO is that the material is non-combustible. To be more specific we are talking about European fire class A1. On the exterior the MgO board will be finished with a waterproof layer, like stone strips or cork. The interior can be painted right away or finished with plaster.


MgO boards – SINH™ board

 

Cost effective construction 

Due to its prefab characteristics it is possible to build a rough building casco in a very short time frame. The application of SIP panels has great advantages over conventional construction methods. One of them is the lead time of a the construction of a house, which means that significant cost savings can be realized. A second advantage is the independency of weather influences, which means that you are able to guarantee continuous quality.

You save on material costs, but in addition you save money in construction costs further ahead. The production time and construction time on site is significantly reduced. This leads to a cost saving on labor. Moreover, a building in SIP panels is energy efficient.


Our MgO SIP panel: SINH™ panel

 

Circular construction and zero energy buildings

We have good news in case the client or customer indicated to want to build energy-neutral. Because MgO boards production process is more than fifty percent cleaner compared to (portland) cement if we look at the carbon footprint and CO2 emissions. Additionally, there are no toxic substances used in the boards, the life cycle is longer and the building material is 100% recyclable. We have investigated this in cooperation with TNO. (TNO is the Dutch Organisation for Applied Scientific Research)
To resume: MgO is a contribution to a better and greener environment!

What design options do we have?

Since this is a prefab building method all panels are constructed on a production facility. The assembly is at the construction site. These SIP panels can be customized according to all kind of design specifications. This provides the customer and architects enough opportunities for their own individual preferences.


New housing project in Nieuwleusen (The Netherlands)

 

An example in practice is our collaboration with the SIP panel producer RC Panels. In 2016, in Nieuwleusen (The Netherlands) they chose our MgO boards for a new construction project of zero energy houses. Please visit our project page with reference projects and all possible applications of MgO boards.

Benefits of SIPs

All benefits of SIPs:
✔ Reduction of construction costs
✔ Reduction of labour costs
✔ Reduction of lead time of projects
✔ Energy savings
✔ Wide range of applications
✔ Consistent quality
✔ Design flexibility

Tip:

Do you need to know more about MgO, insulation and SIP panels? Please get in touch with us for more information or support. Use the contact form below or call us: +31 (0)88 3748400!

 

Blog: Jan Engels and Pablo Heiliegers

 

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