It seems that every time you turn around someone is trotting out some new green product that promises to revolutionize the way we live. Branch River Plastics in Smithfield Rhode Island, has seen many green products come and go in the 28 years that it has been selling Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS). And if longevity is any measure of a products worth then Branch River and their SIPS panels may indeed change the way we live, or, at least the way we build our homes. SIPS panels are simply expanded polystyrene (EPS Foam) glued to two sheets of oriented strand board (OSB). Once assembled, the foam and wood sandwich is strong enough to be used as the walls, floors and roofs of a home or building. The green and sustainable part of this is that a home built of SIPS panels will cost 50% less to heat than a conventionally built home.
Branch River produces large 16′ long blocks of EPS foam in its large vacuum mold. Small plastic beads are expanded with steam and then vacuum molded to produce these large blocks. The blocks are then sliced using hot wires and then glued and pressed between the OSB. Once the glue has cured the panels are cut to sizes based on drawings produced by Branch River’ in house draftsmen. After the cutting is complete the panels are shipped to the home or building site for erection. Branch River can take any house drawing and create a SIPS house from it. Building your home or addition from SIPS will increase the cost of the building by 5%, the pay back in heating and cooling savings is many times that amount.
The first foam core SIPS panel was created in 1952 ( SIPA.org), the use of SIPS in homes and comercial building has grown steadily since as people become aware of SIPS capabilities A fundimental difference between conventional house framing and SIPS is this; when we use oil in the form of EPS, and wood chips in the from of OSB, we are using oil and wood to build and insulate our homes rather than as a one time heat source. That difference is what building green and using the earth’s resources in a sustainable way is all about. Branch River is in Smithfield Rhode Island their website is www. branchriver.com.
Thanks to Branch River Owner Bob Mayo, Sales Manager Kevin Arcand and General Manager Greg Kelleher for their help in producing this article
Other related links
www.sips.org/ The Structural Insulated Panel Association
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structural_insulated_panel Wikipedia article on SIPS Panels