Portland's First SIPs House to Save 70% on Bills!


Update: 8/7/08 – check out Seed’s blog documenting the project at www.sipshousepdx.com.

Yesterday Seed Architecture Studio and Kaya General Contractors announced plans to build the first house in Portland using structural insulated panels ("SIP").  This sustainable home design is targeted to save 70% on bills (compared to a home built to current energy code) utilizing tech such as LED and fluorescent lighting, efficient appliances, passive cooling, and the ultra efficient SIPs.  Speaking of the home, Seed Architecture Studio owner Darin Dougherty said:

We’ve positioned the project as an exercise equally rooted in design, efficiency, and resource use.  The goal of the project is to illustrate that all three of these variables are attainable to everyone.  We’re also introducing a hybrid form of pre-fabrication. Because the entire house is produced in a factory and documented using shop drawings, all other components, such as windows and cabinetry can be produced using the shop drawings.  We’re expecting this to drastically reduce construction time. 

Darin and Seed expect the house to be a model for future sustainable building methods. 

The SIPs will be made with two layers of oriented strand board ("OSB") sandwiched by a layer of rigid foam.  The 8′ wide by 24′ long panels are completely factory made, and when applied, provide an even layer of insulation.  This allows for greater envelope control and home efficiency. 

The Seed SIPs House is unique in that the Portland structural code doesn’t allow for construction with SIPs.  Nevertheless, Portland’s Office of Sustainability provided a Green Investment Fund grant to demonstrate the energy and material savings of SIP technology, and after several discussions / negotiations with Portland’s Building Development Services, an agreement was reached to build the house with SIPs. 

The groundbreaking is planned for April, and when complete, this fantastically modern home will be placed on the market for sale.  With the green design and 70% savings in energy costs, I suspect it’s going to get snatched up quickly. 



SEED SIPs House rendering

SEED SIPs House rendering

Article tags: ,
  • countryboy from France

    Fine house!
    The only problem with foam lays in the fact that it is :
    – non-ecological,
    – unrecyclable,
    – highly flamable,
    – all life long emiting voc,
    – totally vapor proof,
    … that’s to say one of the worst material for building confortable and healthy houses.
    What a funny idea to live in a Tupperware box ! American were known all over the world until now for their wooden houses. What a regression !

  • SEED


    While the Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) used in this project does require petroleum to produce, the foam is created using steam, contains no CFC’s, HCFC’s or formaldehyede. a large percentage of the product is produced from pre and post consumer waste.

    additionally, it is 100% recyclable and emits less VOC than an apple or onion. the OSB on each side of the foam emits more VOC than the foam. it is not the same EPS we banned from use in 1990.

  • SIP Supporter

    It’s true that the foam in a SIP panel isn’t as natural as something organic, but the current methods of making the EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam cores uses no CFC’s or HCFC’s, and the foam does not off gas afterward (no voc’s). The foam can’t be recycled into new SIP panels, but it can be recycled into other products like packaging or even life preservers. It is also 98% air. How does that compare to fiberglass insulation? SIP panels are substantially more fire resistant than the stick framed walls with fiberglass insulation they replace, and in fact emit less toxic gasses when burned as well. The air tightness of a SIP home can cause problems if moisture is allowed to build up, but all reputable SIP builders use air to air heat exchangers to control moisture and conserve energy. Also consider the huge amount of waste created during construction of a typical stick framed house, up to 20%, while a properly designed SIP house may only create 3% construction waste. A good website for SIP information is http://www.sips.org. A SIP house isn’t for everyone, but from an environmental standpoint, they offer quite a lot.

  • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

    @SIP Supporter, @SEED, and @countryboy – we’re hitting on some rich analysis here. Gotta balance the energy efficiency with the indoor air quality in the green home analysis.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/miked918/ Mike Driehorst

    I’m definitely a fan of SIPs from my PR work with a SE Michigan supplier several (several years ago). Great insulation benefits for homeowners and great time-saver for builders (especially when skilled labor shortage is a concern).

    I do recall that, because SIP homes are so air tight, special HVAC considerations and designs are needed to maintain the airflow that you can get with a leaky, stick- built home.

  • BoloRock

    SIPs are truly phenomenal. I have one correction to this article though. I know for a fact that a SIP home was built in Portland in early 2006, which would have been earlier than the home noted in this article.

  • http://www.kingspan.com Insulated Panels

    SIP’s are always energy-efficient. Kudos on building the house.

Popular Topics on Jetson Green