What’s the Story with SIPs and Indoor Air Quality?

The best way to control the quality of your indoor air is to build a home that is as air-tight as possible. When you can control how air gets into your house, you have far more control over the quality of the air. The side benefit is that the more air-tight your house is, the more energy efficient it is.

We have found that structural insulated panels (SIPs) are the most effective material for building an air-tight house. SIP houses have fewer seams. Because SIPs are more “true” than stick built structures, seams meet more evenly and are easier to seal properly.

What can a well-built, well-sealed house do for your repiratory and allergy issues?

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
SIPs are made like sandwiches. Oriented strand board (OSB) is the bread. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is the peanut butter. OSB is made up of wood chips and is stuck together with wax, natural resin and pressure. The EPS used in SIPs is created in a steam process (not harsh chemicals).
When we were building the Woodard Lane Co-Housing project, there were people who were concerned about the effect SIPs would have on their chemical sensitivities. We gave out “exposed” scraps of SIP. The people concerned spent a good amount of time with the scraps — one lady even slept with her scrap on her pillow. No ill-effects were reported and the project went ahead with SIPs. (YAY!)

Asthma and Allergies
Environmental triggers like wood smoke, dust, mold and air pollution can be dramatically reduced in an air-tight house. To keep fresh, clean air moving through, we use a heat recovery ventilator (HRV). The most recent one we’ve used is the Lifebreath 155 MAX at the Far Reach House. This HRV uses HEPA filters for incoming air. It exhausts “used” air which can include pet dander and fumes as well as excessive mold/mildew-causing moisture.

Mold and Mildew
When your house is air-tight you have to create a good air-flow system. Moisture from cooking and showers and laundry will create a welcome environment for mold and mildew and parasites so it must be removed. We use a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) to remove unwanted moisture along with household fumes and smells. SIP roofs provide an excellent medium for HRVs as SIP’s consistent insulation allows an HRV to be at its most effective.

When a SIP home is built correctly there are fewer opportunities for unhealthy air to affect your health. Plus you get the benefit of an amazingly energy efficient home.

Contact us if you have any questions on how a SIPs house can improve your life.

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