The reduction of air infiltration that SIPs provide allows the installation of smaller HVAC systems, annual energy savings of up to 50-60%, and more efficient temperature control than conventional construction. Beyond cost savings, these factors play an important role in building health.
Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) continue to be a concern for administrators. Based on estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HAIs affect nearly two million acute care patients a year. Better air quality from tight SIPs construction may improve patient outcomes by helping prevent these infections since the microorganisms depend on humidity and temperature to survive. The tightness of the SIPs envelope also makes buildings less prone to infiltration by common pollutants such as radon, molds, pollen, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), lead dust, and asbestos. Because a well-controlled indoor environment is healthier and more comfortable—two important qualities in a healthcare facility—SIPs can be an integral part of the overall air management plan.
Another benefit of effective insulation is the amount of noise reduction it offers. Healthcare facilities consider this in regards to patient health, comfort, safety, and effective communication (staff-to-staff as well as staff-to-patient). Because the most frequently prescribed treatment option throughout history has been rest and sleep, the need for noise reduction is clear, especially for inpatient treatment or long-term care facilities. Planners, architects, designers, engineers, and builders are challenged to address noise and privacy concerns as evidence from the Pebble Project (1984 study by Dr. Roger Ulrich) showed the impact of design on the treatment outcomes and the well being of patients and staff. Because SIPs are effective at blocking high-frequency noise, they can help create a quiet indoor setting.
Fast close-in times and lower construction waste
A key advantage SIPs provide in today’s tight economy is their ability to dramatically reduce dry-in time. The large, single-piece panels eliminate the need for separate framing, insulating, and sheathing work on-site and enable contractors to install entire wall, roof, and floor sections at one time.
The design and construction process for SIPs is straightforward. The architect provides the construction documents to an SIP manufacturer or dealer, who converts them into shop drawings that give each panel’s specific dimensions. After review by all applicable parties, the manufacturer precuts the panels with window and door openings, including curves, arches, and complex shapes, and precut electrical chases. They are then delivered to the jobsite pre-numbered to coordinate with installation plans. These precut, ready-to-install panels can save up to 60% on combined labor on overall framing, trim/millwork, window, door and flooring, and electrical installations. And as an added result, contractors can reduce jobsite material waste by up to 60% since they do not need to cut individual boards to size at the jobsite.
In one institutional building completed in Las Vegas in 2009, the use of SIPs reduced close-in time by nearly 80%—from an initial estimate of 118–220 days for CMUs to only 45 days. This resulted in approximately one million dollars in direct construction cost savings.
Additional environmental advantages
Beyond energy savings and waste reduction, building with SIPs is environmentally responsible in several other ways. With the push for buildings that not only support energy efficiency over the life of the building, but are green in construction materials as well, SIPs offers significant advancements in both.