Why would anyone pay the SIP premium?

By:  Pat Austin, CDT, Sales Representative – Architectural Products

Decisions…life is full of them.  The other day at a local burger place, I found myself faced with a really ordinary one: the hamburger basket or the pot roast sandwich with mushrooms.  $5.19 vs. $6.29.  Less vs. more.  Each of us negotiates these every-day choices differently, applying a set of criteria that varies by the day.  Am I really hungry or just kind-of?  How much money is in my wallet?  How closely am I counting my calories?  Alright, that last one almost never factors into the decision for me, but my gut feeling is that I better move it higher on the priority list.

As a former contractor, I was thinking about which priorities find the top of my list when evaluating building envelope framing options.  Counting calories…I vowed to move that up higher on my decision tree…yeah, that has got to be in the top 3 (but this time measuring BTUs consumed instead of kcal).  Energy usage is definitely one of the largest determining factors of a buildings annual operating cost.  And lets face it, no one expects utility costs to come down in the coming years.  Energy efficiency is rightly at the very top of almost everyone’s decision matrix these days.

Several years ago, when evaluating choices for their new headquarters, the Builders Association of Fond du Lac & Dodge Counties chose R-Control SIPs for their exterior wall package.  Their building came in at over 7,000 square feet, segregated into lower-level tenant suites and upper-level offices for the Builders.  We now have several years worth of heating bills to look at and decide if the SIP selection was a wise one:

  • 2005: $978
  • 2006: $788
  • 2007: $781Strcutraul Insulated Panel SIP Commercial Building
  • 2008: $954
  • 2009: $888
  • 2010: $750

Just like the pot roast sandwich, however, this performance comes at a premium.  When compared to stick framing, the SIP premium generally ranges between 10-25%.  Does the energy usage illustrated by the Builders Association, extrapolated over the 50+ year life expectancy of the structure, warrant that investment?  Does the ability to enclose the project more quickly and reduce the risk of weather-exposure impact your decision?  Does creating an extremely quiet and draft-free structure appeal to you?  How about a system that has withstood the effects of tornadoes and earthquakes?  Does the fact that SIPs have been chosen for several LEED Platinum projects influence your decision?

Decisions…There are certainly many options to choose from when considering building envelope construction.  As for me, make mine R-Control SIPs, please.

About Pat Austin

BSIE from Marquette University in 1986, MSMSE from UW Madison in 1989. General contractor for 13 years before joining the ACH Foam team in 2007. Married to Kelly, with four sons.
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