New Zealand is a country filled with natural beauty and, moreover, it is home to many environmental enthusiasts interested in trying out new building materials and techniques.

Some Kiwis have built gorgeous showcase homes recently. They are for one increasingly popular building product known in the country as Formance SIP panels.

This article looks at one home-build that captures both the subtle, all but invisible look and the astonishing energy performance of this innovative material. If this intrigues you, please keep reading.

Building a Home Sustainably in 2020

Increasingly, when they build a home, people do so with the natural environment and sustainability in mind. This is as much to enjoy the benefits of natural living as it is to support a cause. The two reasons go hand in hand, of course.

Building design is an essential factor in sustainability. For example, some clean energy sources, like solar, are not easy to integrate into existing homes.

Thus, even some more progressive homeowners have made a choice. Should they redesign or use HVAC technology that requires fossil fuels?

Those who can afford it often choose building a custom home. That ensures that it will use minimal amounts of energy and functions in sync with the natural environment.

What Are SIP Panels?

SIP stands for structural insulated panels. First developed in Madison, Wisconsin in the U.S. during the 1930s, these have become a popular building material on a global scale. Growing numbers of builders and their clients have taken a serious interest in sustainable building.

A SIP panel consists of expanded polystyrene (EPS) resin that has been expanded into beads and then moulded into foam pieces. These rectangles are then sandwiched between two oriented strand boards (OSB). OSB is a type of particleboard with excellent load-bearing capability.

The panels themselves are seldom visible. So, their aesthetic value is often perceived as being second to their extraordinary performance. And since SIPs are made to fit any building type, they are ideal for innovative building designs.

The greatest appeal of SIP panels comes from their insulating properties, though. “Designs integrating SIPs into walls, floors and roofs introduce a degree of uniformity throughout the building’s interfaces, which means less air leakage.”

You might say that SIP panels provide all the insulation most homes would need, so none needs to be added.

New Zealand SIP Panel Projects

Formance is a significant manufacturer of SIP panels in New Zealand. This is fortunate for those interested in SIP building ideas. Formance has kept careful documentation of their panes’ success stories.

One contractor completed their first SIP panel project in 2018, a home in Blenheim at the northeast tip of the South Island. More recently, a young Kiwi couple completed their rural dream home using Formance panels throughout the place. Take a look!

It also seems that some people have learned how to build a tiny home just so that they can make it sustainable and create it easily with Formance panels!

The Lewis Build Home in Kumeu

Kumeū is an affluent rural community about 25 km northwest of Auckland. It’s known for its vineyards, wineries and farmland. Recently, we completed a Master Build Formance panel home there.

Eco Habitat company director, Lesley England, designed our project. She is quite conversant with both architectural technology and architectural design. The two-level home features a lift and has a beautiful country outlook.

SIP Panel Precautions

SIP panels offer a lot of benefits for homeowners. Since there are also a few precautions, we want to share with you as well.

  • Hire builders who have experience with SIP panels.
  • You should not make changes to your building’s design after ordering the panels since they are customized to the original design.
  • SIPs are vulnerable to moisture, so they should be kept covered during construction, so any moisture doesn’t infiltrate other materials in the home.
  • The panels should be treated with boric acid to prevent pests.
  • Make sure to check the SIPs for flaws and overall quality before installing.

Treat your SIP panels well, especially during the construction period when they’re outdoors. They, in turn, will treat you very well over the years.

What Does the Future Hold for SIP Panels?

SIP panels have been such a success and still they’re being innovated even more. The future of SIP panels and their use in sustainable construction is to make them even more sustainable.

It should come as no surprise that New Zealand is at the forefront of these innovations. A relatively recent conference paper by a couple of our university scholars describes specific ways to improve materials currently used in SIPs.

One measure is to replace OSB as the panel skin (outer layer that supports the panel) with something called a honeycomb bio board. This material is highly efficient and toxin-free.

One New Zealand company is already working on making SIPs even more environmentally friendly and sustainable than those we have today.

Individual panels might seem costly when thought of as just insulation. But they produce generous savings in ways such as energy costs and house-framing materials and labour. The price will come down, too.

More SIP Usage in Homes Everywhere?

New Zealand clearly plays a leading role in the adoption of SIP panels and other sustainable materials for building a home.

Still, it is not the only country to have embraced these or environmentalism overall. SIP manufacturing and home-building are going strong in Europe and North America.

Keep your eyes on our new website, as we showcase each of the innovative new homes we will build—using Formance panels and other outstanding materials. Should you have questions for us in the meantime, please contact us.