Blog
Start with the Building Envelope

I was talking with a LEED professional the other day and was glad to hear him say that when speaking with builders that talk about wanting to put PV panels on the roof, or digging up the front yard for a geo-thermal heating system, or solar thermal water heating, he always tries to "reset" expectations by reminding them that when you START with the building envelope, trying to get the most perfectly insulated building envelope you can, there is no greater return on investment for a new homeowner.  You can put solar panels on the roof and a traditionally built stick-home can actually leak every bit of those energy savings out the walls of a home.

By offering the most advanced structural insulated panelized building system on the market today - a claim that has been seconded by building scientists working for the US Dept of Energy - Eco-Panels can offer a building envelope that is stronger, safer and significantly more energy efficient than traditional construction or even EPS sips.  Yes, we cost a little more, but we've often seen that the premium associated with our product - when ammortized into a mortgage - is actually less than the monthly energy savings a homeowner can realize in the very first full month of occupancy.

Whether you are pursuing a Net Zero Home, a Passive House, or Energy Star, or LEED Residential, or any other countless "green" home programs in this country, or whether you are just simply trying to build a good strong home, if you aren't starting with the building envelope you may have a very difficult time recovering a positive return on investment for other energy saving investments.

Build it right, build it tight, the first time.  With Eco-Panels.

 
More Extreme Weather - Tornadoes in NYC

This weekend we saw more extreme weather, this time spawning multiple tornadoes in New York City.  As this article states, tornadoes used to be a very rare event in the NYC area, but now not uncommon.

Because of our superior strength building envelope, Eco-Panels has assisted reconstruction efforts in rebuilding after both hurricanes and tornadoes.  By building structures with Eco-Panels, a structure is much better able to withstand the shear wind forces of high wind weather events when compared to traditional construction.  One of the weakest parts of a structure (and one of the toughest to insulate) is where two walls come together.  By virtue of our patented and patent pending single piece corner panel, Eco-Panels can eliminate this weak joint in a building's structure.

As energy costs will rise, there is little doubt that weather events are becoming more extreme.  To help protect your self, your family, and perhaps the largest investment you will ever make, make sure you build using Eco-Panels for a stronger, safer, significantly more energy efficient structure.

 
Affordable Housing? NO! Affordable Living!

I cringe when I see affordable housing developments going up using virtually the same building materials used in the 1960s.  We see the same cheap stick-built (wood or steel) methods of construction used in almost all parts of our country.  The builders have a pretty good formula worked out to build using the least expensive materials available and the least amount of insulation required by law (i.e. "built to code").  And the sad thing is we know that some clients of affordable housing - while given a low cost mortgage - are often run out of their home by high energy bills.

Eco-Panels can provide a significantly more energy efficient structure with energy savings possibly exceeding 70% when compared to traditional construction (we have the data).  We believe that "affordable housing" is often synonomous with cheap housing - and that will cost a homeowner in the long run.  By providing a homeowner with a stronger, safer and significantly more energy efficient home than traditional construction, Eco-Panels can offer what we like to call "Affordable Living" - allowing that homeowner a greater amount of discretionary income to provide for the benefit of their family.

Our panels can be used for single story or high rise housing developments.  And where we know that the durability of affordable housing developments has been an issue in the past, Eco-Panels will GUARANTEE that no one will ever put a foot or a fist or a door knob through one of our wall panels.  Sound attenuation is also a benefit that our panels can bring to the table through lack of traditional framing members, creating a quieter living environment.

Yes, it may cost a little more up front in materials, but you should save money in labor (potentially lots of money depending on where you are).  And after all the real client in affordable housing projects is NOT the builder, it is the person and families who will live in the home - and they will be the one to see the greatest benefit.  And that's what subsidized housing is all about - right?

Of course we've seen the same benefits for schools, etc., but that's for another posting....

 
The Truth About "Ballistic SIPs"

I noticed in passing over another website the other day a company hyping their "proprietary" or "unique" ballistic sips, or structural insulated panels.  As you may or may not know, a "sip" is a building panel that contains the properties of being both a STRUCTURAL (certified as being significantly load bearing) and an INSULATED building panel, used in both commercial and residential construction.  A sip commonly consists of two siding materials that sandwich an insulating foam core.  However some sip systems require a third component, a vertical spline member - commonly a wooden or steel stud - to acheive a structural rating.  This is common among polystyrene (EPS) foam core sips.

Now the fact is that virtually anybody can glue a couple of siding materials to a cheap slab of foam and call it a "sip", but far fewer groups can do this in a well controlled manner on a volume basis and actually understand the science and physical properties behind both the product and the structure that the product is going into.

With that said, what many companies are doing is identifying ballistic rated materials and simply bonding them to a foam core in an attempt to appeal to the military or even the "prepper" market.  And there they have it - their "ballistic sip".  Has it been independently certified to ASTM E-72 or E-1803 or similar structural standards?  I'm guessing not, because as this would be a non-standard application most people are looking for the contract before they go to the expense of outside testing.  So be careful - just because a siding material can stop a bullet does not mean it can handle the structural load of a building.  Products that are strong in the "z" dimension and ballistically rated may be brittle in the "y" or "x" dimension (materials can be funny that way).

Eco-Panels does not "glue" anything in our manufacturing process.  Instead we are INJECTING a polyurethane foam into a hollow cavity under great pressure.  The foam expands into every nook & crevice of the wall, roof or floor panel and the foam itself is the bonding agent - there is no extra glue involved in the process (so less opportunity for error in manufacturing).  We will GUARANTEE that our foam will NEVER delaminate from our siding materials (absent someone or thing trying with tools or equipment or harsh chemicals to pull them apart with great force).

We have experience with ballistic panels, and instead of simply putting our panels in a field and shooting them and posting the video we have worked with parters to have independent labs test the panels to NIJ ballistic standards.  The key is in finding the proper siding material to suit your purpose - both ballistic and structural.  We do not profess to know them all - they are being developed all the time.  But I do know that to our knowledge no other company has made custom sips with a wider variety of siding materials for commercial purposes than we have (we're over 20+ now).  And we also have sophisticated and proprietary structural modeling programs that allow us to simulate the structural properties of a potential panel based on the input variables of different siding materials.

And what Eco-Panels can further bring to the table is our knowledge base.  You see a ballistic event will exercise mainly the panel skin, but a BLAST event will exercise the entire panel and structure as a whole.  We know that the military has already extensively tested urethane products in blast test environments.  The tensile strength (the strength of a product trying to prevent it from being pulled apart) of our polyurethane foam injected at 2.5 lbs/cuft density is SIGNIFICANTLY stronger than EPS or polystyrene foam.  A blast event will all at the same time apply compressive, shear and tensile forces to a structure and its panels.  Don't be fooled by someone trying a blast test on a single panel - that's just silly - I mean who lives in a single panel?  We live in ASSEMBLIES OF PANELS.  How do they join together?  How strong is the entire assembly?

And one other thing.  One of the weakest parts of a structure is where two walls come together.  By virtue of our patented and patent pending single piece corner panel we can ELIMINATE this weak joint entirely - creating a significantly stronger structure than other panel systems or traditional methods of construction. Whether you are looking for a safer home or a portable safe room, our unique technology is for you.

So read through our website, watch our videos, and ask questions.  We'd love to hear from you.

 
Actual Energy Cost Data For Comparison Between Eco-Panels SIPs and Stick Construction

It is not often that we obtain energy consumption data for two identical model homes, one built with our unique polyurethane injected Eco-Panels sips and one built out of stick construction.  Actually the 2x4 stick construction home was built using advanced stick framing methods to a "beyond" Energy Star standard.  These homes were built in 2009/2010 and the data was collected over 2011 and 2012.  We received this data this summer.  Quite impressive.

Since we know from US Dept of Energy estimates that homes built to their standard will "out perform" a traditional stick-built home by around 20%, and we have the actual energy performance data of the homes, we have estimated the energy consumption of a traditional stick-built home (the way most builders build stick homes) simply by discounting the performance of the "beyond" Energy Star home by 20%.  You'll see that the Eco-Panels home will out-perform the traditional stick-built home by more than 70% - and this home only used our wall panels - both homes in this model used traditional insulation in the roof deck and were otherwise built identically by the same organization.  Our major complaint was that the HVAC sizing for the two homes was identical - 2 ton for a 1,300 sqft home - when the Eco-Panels home should have been downsized to either a 1.5 ton unit (the smallest the market currently makes) or even a mini-split for even better energy savings.  Having the oversized 2 ton unit in this home actually makes our performance worse because the unit will tend to cycle on and off more often leading to inefficient performance.

 

Energy Comparison for the "Georgia Model" Plan
Energy consuption data taken from June 2011 to May 2012
House Climate Zone: 3
(traditional stick performance at 20% less than Energy Star per US DOE estimates)
  Adv.Stick/EnrgyStar (kWh) days /bill cycle kWh per day Eco-Panels (kWh) days /bill cycle kWh per day Trad.Stick (kWh) days /bill cycle kWh per day
June  1,484 32 46.38 792 31 25.55 1,781 32 55.66
July 1,583 29 54.59 977 30 32.57 1,900 29 65.51
August 1,567 31 50.55 1,106 31 35.68 1,880 31 60.66
September 1,202 31 38.77 957 31 30.87 1,442 31 46.52
October  1,058 30 35.27 956 30 31.87 1,270 30 42.32
November 1,195 30 39.83 778 31 25.1 1,434 30 47.8
December 1,453 31 46.87 810 30 27 1,744 31 56.24
January 1,444 31 46.58 1,166 31 37.61 1,733 31 55.9
February 1,387 31 44.74 1,044 31 33.68 1,664 31 53.69
March  1,373 30 45.77 1,067 29 36.79 1,648 30 54.92
April 1,185 30 39.5 924 31 29.81 1,422 30 47.4
May  1,301 31 41.97 699 31 22.55 1,561 31 50.36
  16,232 367 44.23 11,276 367 30.72 19,478 367 53.08
Performance Greater Than Traditional Stick
20% 73% - -
Eco-Panels Annual Savings vs. Traditional Stick $820 @ $0.10/kWh
Eco-Panels Annual Savings vs. Traditional Stick $1,148 @ $0.14/kWh
Eco-Panels Annual Savings vs. Traditional Stick $1,476 @ $0.18/kWh
Note: This was an approx 1,300 sqft home.  The HVAC unit was 2 ton in size and was OVERSIZED for the 
Eco-Panels home in the opinion of Eco-Panels, but the contractor wanted consistent sizing between the 
Advanced Stick Framing/beyond Energy Star construction and the Eco-Panels home.  A properly sized HVAC system for the Eco-Panels home should offer even greater savings.

 

 

 
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 9 of 15