One 10 Studio - Indiana
Kestner Case Study
Building a Case
At One 10 Studio, an Indianapolis design firm, “We always recommend sustainability where it's appropriate with our clients,” said Patrick Kestner, project manager and associate. “Thermocore SIPs just make it an easier sell. When we can say you'll get a quieter building that
exceeds energy code by more than double and you'll get payback in a couple of years with utility bills at
30 percent less, that definitely gets the attention of both residential and commercial clients.”
Goodbye Spray Foam, Hello SIPs
Several years ago, “We were looking for a more efficient and cost-effective way to incorporate
sustainability,” Kestner said. “We'd been using spray foam in a stick-frame wall, but you still have stud voids
with the thermal transition between inside and outside. SIPs provide the same type of insulation, but when
you remove the studs you're able to achieve a higher R-value.”
Compared to other green options, “Structural insulated panels are an accessible technology that people
can understand,” Kestner said—especially with the financial benefits.
“People are starting to appreciate that there may be a premium to the SIPs, but you save on labor and
receive an energy payback,” he said. “Your return on investment comes in a short time period.”
One 10 Studio uses Thermocore insulated panels in a variety of applications. “We can design however we
want to design,” Kestner said. “The SIPs fit three-story, 55,000 square-foot buildings or 2,500
square-foot, single-family projects. Their versatility even spans climates. It doesn't matter whether it's
Indiana or South Carolina; Thermocore SIPs still provide the design traits we look for in the building
In a traditional, single-family home in Bloomington, Ind., SIPs literally supported the design. “The kitchen is two stories, opening up into a loft space,” Kestner explained. “The structural insulated panels allowed us to build the two stories without the support of a floor system. They didn't require any columns or beams to support them.”
In two three-story apartment buildings near downtown Indianapolis, a mixture of structural insulated panel sizes achieved multiple goals. “We utilized six-and-a-half-inch wall panels on the first floor for structural issues, with four-inch panels on the upper floors,” Kestner said. “That allowed us to stay at the budget number we needed, but also provide the energy efficiency we wanted.”
The contemporary-style apartment complex will receive a Silver rating under the National Association of Home Builders Green Building Standard. “Obviously, the SIPs are huge in being able to achieve that, since they're the building envelope,” Kestner said.
In comparing traditional construction to Thermocore SIPs, Kestner noted a difference in quality. “Thermocore fabricates the structural insulated panels inside, in a controlled environment, versus dumping a load of studs in the mud. In a stick-frame project, there are a lot of decisions made by a framer swinging a hammer in 100 degrees or pouring-down rain. Out in the field, the quality level is lower because they use what they have to work with at the time.”
In contrast, “There's a whole level of consistency with a fabricated panel that you don't get with a stick-built product,” Kestner said. “SIPs haven't been exposed to the elements. As Thermocore goes through their process, if there's a piece of OSB that's not acceptable, they won't use it.”
In addition to reliable quality, Thermocore's process speeds construction, Kestner said. For instance, “Thermocore guarantees all their window openings. In a stick-frame building, the opening might turn out 1/8-inch too small. If you've already got a window, are you going to spend time and money to adjust the framing? Or you can wait until the walls are up, then measure the openings and wait six weeks for the windows to arrive.”
In projects with Thermocore structural insulated panels, Kestner orders the windows in advance so they're ready to go as soon as the SIPs walls are up. “We can fast-track the process and have the peace of mind that everything will fit.”
Enclosing the building faster yields additional advantages. “You're not getting water infiltration, you're not facing as many security issues, and you're not paying extra money to temporarily enclose the building,” Kestner said.
All those benefits help One 10 Studio's business. “When I can say you'll get a highly insulated building envelope that's going to go faster and be more precise, those are huge advantages to take to a client,” Kestner concluded.
The Beamery - Indiana
Watters Case Study
Building a Case
When David Watters, owner of The Beamery, a design-build timber frame company in Helmsburg, Indiana, set out to build the first Indiana home certified as a Passive House, he chose triple-pane windows, energy-efficient appliances, LED lighting, and Thermocore structural
“We've used Thermocore SIPs for a couple dozen projects
throughout the last 10 years,” David said. “In designing to
the ultra low energy, Passive House standards, we really
wanted to use a product that we had familiarity with and
that would get us to the certification. The SIPs definitely
met those requirements.” Watters is shooting for 90 percent
energy savings versus a typical home of the same size.
Reaching the Standard
The Passive House standard originated in Germany and
spread to the U.S. “A Passive House is a rigorous, voluntary
standard for energy efficiency in a building, reducing its
ecological footprint,” David said. “It results in buildings that
require little energy for heating or cooling.”
The 4,000-square-foot, two-level home (plus a reading loft
and basement) in Nashville, Indiana, will undergo extensive
testing to confirm that it meets Passive House certification
The custom home's outer envelope features Thermocore
insulated wall and roof panels. “The cost of the SIPs is
competitive, and it's virtually impossible to get to this same efficiency of wall enclosure with a conventionally framed house because of all the thermal bridges,” Watters said.
In fact, with the structural insulated panels and site orientation, Watters eliminated a furnace in the home. But the heating and cooling savings won't come just from that initial decision. “They'll come year after year with lower energy consumption,” David said.
T-Shirt Weather in the Winter
How well does the house perform without a furnace? “Our construction during the winter was a great test,” David said. “The house was enclosed, but my trim carpenters worked through January and February. We had two small, 4,000 BTU radiant heaters in the house and the carpenters were working in their t-shirts. That's a pretty incredible testimony.”
The savings won't stop with warmer weather. “One of the challenges of Indiana is that you've got both heating and cooling loads,” David said, but the SIPs will continue keeping the home comfortable through hot and cold seasons.
Less Time On-Site
How else do Thermocore SIPs help David's projects? “In addition to the insulating value, it's things like the Class 1 fire rating and the incredible lateral strength, so structurally it's a great product,” he said.
David also appreciates the flexibility of Thermocore SIPs. “We do very, very custom buildings and Thermocore has been able to adapt to all our design parameters.”
To speed construction time, “We design both our timber frame and the insulated panel enclosure simultaneously, so it's a very seamless process,” David said. “We're trying to create a product where we can do more and more pre-manufacturing and less time on-site. That's really where the SIPs shine, along with the energy efficiency.” (See Thermocore SIPs Installation.)
Serena Sturm Architects - Illinois
Serena Case Study
Building a Case
Serena Sturm Architects has focused on sustainable design since its founding in 1983, but “It's been a process to make incremental strides with every building we design,” said Marty Serena, AIA, principal of the Chicago firm.
Marty recently decided to use Thermocore structural insulated panels. “We like the high R-values based on the SIP's chemistry,” he said.
But Marty also appreciates getting that R-value without adding bulk. “Thermocore gives us the best thermal resistance values for the square footage and thicknesses we use, which in construction means other efficiencies--the wall thicknesses translate into foundation thicknesses and jam extensions for windows. The bigger and thicker you get, the more parts and pieces you need from the other trades to compensate. Thermocore offers the most efficient system.”
Marty's firm is building two homes with Thermocore's insulated wall and roof panels and expects the SIPs to boost overall performance. “A good thermal envelope is really the fundamental element of any energy-efficient design, and Thermocore's SIPs provide a well-insulated exterior,” Marty said. “Ultimately, the goal is to not operate mechanical systems, so the better you build the exterior envelope, the more you can create high-performing mechanical and renewable-energy systems.”
In the first home in Roselle, Ill., “The client wanted to do an ecological home, so we both felt that SIPs were a good match,” Marty said.
The second project in western New York is a vacation home for five families spanning three generations. Designed for LEED certification, the home features one kitchen with many bedrooms on one lot. To reduce mass and gain access to views and daylight, Marty and his colleagues broke the home into three connected buildings. One building, because of a pool on the roof, is composed of steel and SIPs. The other buildings were constructed with SIPs and structural wood offsite, then assembled onsite. “Those two buildings went up in less than a week,” Marty said.
Foundations of Sustainability
Growing up around his father's construction business, Marty's sustainable approach came naturally. “It was always a family ethic about minimizing waste and building things that would be durable and lasting,” he said.
That foundation inspired his design style. “In the past, architecture was thought of as an art; at our firm, we define architecture as a marriage between art and technology that really makes buildings perform,” Marty said. “We focus on the fact that buildings are developed for people. The more seamless you make the buildings with nature, the better people feel.”
SIPs and their insulating abilities help achieve that goal, Marty said. “For those spaces to be really good, they need to feel comfortable without huge temperature swings.”
Using any new product requires some learning curve, but Marty looks forward to the end result of incorporating structural insulated panels. “The more experience we have with them, the better our architecture will become. With Thermocore SIPs, we can build a better box quicker and more efficiently.”
Viridian Architectural Design Inc. - Indiana
Thornsbury Case Study
Building a Case
Terry Thornsbury, AIA, architect and president of Viridian Architectural Design Inc., searches out the best options to cut long-term costs and minimize impact on the planet. He wants the best performance, but he also needs reliable service.
“When it comes to SIPs, Thermocore's R-values are a little higher,” Terry said. “I know what I'm getting from Thermocore. It's a dependable team that I appreciate.”
How Many Ways Can You Save?
For one two-story, 3,400-square-foot home, Terry compared SIPs and
Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF).”ICF cost $60,000 more for the same
R-value, and the Thermocore structural insulated panels required less
mass and less material,” Terry said. “That really opened my eyes.”
The structural integrity of Thermocore's SIPs also saves on construction
costs. On the Community Center project in Akron, Indiana,
“Thermocore's insulated panels allowed us to eliminate all the interior
columns,” Terry explained. “The loading capacity of the SIPs supported
the trusses over a 60-foot open, clear span. Without the columns, we
saved money on foundations, footings, and the columns themselves.”
Barreling through Obstacles
”No project is flawless, but when issues come up, it's good to know that
Thermocore stands behind their product and helps us deal with
problems,” Terry said. “Pat [Egan, president of Thermocore] is always
quick to respond to questions that come up in the field. He and his
staff don't hesitate to talk with me directly, deal with the issues, and
keep the project moving forward.”
When Terry first researched structural insulated panels, he talked to one homeowner who built an addition to his stick-built home using Thermocore SIPs. “They spent all of their time in the SIPs addition because it was so much quieter,” Terry said. “That was a quality they didn't expect, but it's key.”
Terry also appreciates that the electrical back boxes and conduit are integrated into Thermocore's structural insulated panels. “It makes the job so much faster and easier,” he said.
Terry recently talked with a contractor wanting to learn more about SIPs. Terry sent him to the best source he knows: “I gave him Thermocore's website address and told him to call Pat.”
Morning Sky Timber Designs - Ohio
Sheidler Case Study
Building a Case
Throughout two decades of timber framing, David Sheidler, owner of Morning Sky Timber Designs, tried 10 different structural insulated panel (SIP) manufacturers, from the Midwest to the west coast.
“I was dissatisfied with the whole state of SIPs,” David said. “I was struggling and frustrated on site because of the amount of work required. Even manufacturers who cut the general profile of the panel weren't very good at it; they still left a lot of additional work, like putting in lumber
for windows and doors.”
Then David heard about Thermocore structural insulated panels. “Thermocore was started by timber framers, so
they knew what we were looking for. Our first job with them was flawless.”
Done in a Flash
On that first installation, “Our crew was used to struggling with SIPs for a week to 10 days, so when we enclosed the
whole house in two days with Thermocore insulated panels, we were dumbstruck,” David said. “The job was
Since then, David has designed more than 150 houses with Thermocore's custom-cut, ready-to-install structural
Do the Math
David recommends Thermocore SIPs to all his customers. “People who don't choose panels don't understand the
entire process. SIPs for a 2,400 to 2,800 square-foot house can be installed in a couple of days. Stick framing takes
a lot longer. Initial material costs may be less with stick framing, but then you have to factor in additional labor.”
In the end, “The insulated panels are very competitive in cost,” David said. “Then you're looking at the long-term
heating and cooling savings.”
Sized to Fit
Only Thermocore's patented 4-inch insulated wall panels accommodate standard building materials. “The four-inch Thermocore SIPs mimic a true four-inch, stick framed wall,” David said. “With Thermocore, all you need is a half-inch sheet of drywall and a standard window. There are no additional trim costs. And for a timber framed house—usually a high-end home—we're talking about a lot of very large windows!”
In addition to structural insulated wall panels, David uses Thermocore's six-inch roof panels. “I like the low roof profile,” he said. “In order to achieve the R-40 of Thermocore's insulated roof panels, you'd need a 12-inch panel from another manufacturer. That's twice the thickness. The roof looks absolutely massive.”
The Electrician's Helper
With Thermocore SIPs, David also saves his customers money by minimizing the electrician's time and trouble. “One thing that makes Thermocore very unique is that they put in electrical boxes and conduit,” he said. “I get a lot of feedback from electricians that they really love that concept.” No need to drill holes into studs, then fill them once the wiring is installed; the electrician just feeds the wire through Thermocore's pre-installed conduit, connects and moves on.
David also appreciates Thermocore's flexibility. “They're willing to work with you and the client on electrical requirements, whether it's actual power, data cables or security wiring to every window.”
For the past 10 years, David has stuck with Thermocore structural insulated panels. “All the little things add up,” he said. “There's great value in that.”
O'Connor Brehm Design-Build - Illinois
O'Connor/Brehm Case Study
Building a Case
When Pat O'Connor of O'Connor Brehm Design-Build in Park Ridge, Illinois, built his own vacation home near Traverse City, Michigan, he chose Thermocore SIPs to conserve energy. “We've saved at least 30 percent on heating bills every month,” he said. Then when Pat and his business partner, Greg Brehm of Brehm Architects, designed and built homes for two clients on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, they again chose the air-tightness of Thermocore insulated wall panels to withstand the blustery winds.
Energy Efficient—Occupied or Not
Pat built his 6,000 square-foot vacation home three years ago. When the family isn't around, the heat stays at 55 degrees. “After we get there, it doesn't take long to get the house heated,” Pat said.
With the SIPs envelope of insulated wall and roof panels, “It maintains an even
temperature throughout the house”added Greg, who designed the home. “In a
home, you might have a pocket that gets really cold and end up with a frozen pipe.
In this house, that's not a danger.”
The cost of heating and air conditioning the home totaled just $1,400 last year,
much less than a traditionally built home, Pat said.
Withstanding Mother Nature
Pat's home was just the first the business partners designed with Thermocore SIPs.
When two clients wanted to build homes overlooking Lake Michigan on a bluff with
gusting lake winds, Pat and Greg recommended Thermocore insulated wall panels.
“Energy efficiency is the big thing,” Greg said, “but we also like how tight and quiet SIPs houses are. They're much tighter than stick-frame construction, with no air infiltration—even with the strong winds.”
The first house is 4,000 square feet and the second 5,500 square feet. Both serve as vacation homes in South Haven, Michigan.
“They're not houses that will be occupied year-round, so having something that can sit there and be energy-sustainable when you're not around is a good thing,” Greg said.
Extra Touches with SIPs
When building with Thermocore SIPs, “There are obvious advantages from an insulation standpoint, but there are also a lot of good, green elements,” Greg said. “All three homes are very custom, built-from-scratch type houses and the SIPs fit very well. We had no waste. The work we put in ahead of time pays off.”
As the builder, Pat said, “The houses go up faster with Thermocore SIPs because the insulation is there and the electric sockets are already in the outside walls. In addition, the walls are stronger and more sound than a stick-frame house. Lumber that sits out in the rain starts warping, but Thermocore insulated wall panels are always straight. I just think it's a superior product.”
Thermocore SIPs also streamline interior
work, he said. “When you hang cabinets—
or anything else—on the outside walls, you
don't have to find studs, so you can hang
them faster and easier.”
Pat also appreciates Thermocore's customer service. “They do a nice job with the engineering of the insulated panels,” he said. “If there's ever a problem—even if the panel turned out the size it's supposed to be and then we needed something different—Thermocore is very easy to work with as a company.”
Douglas Danks Associates - Minnesota
Danks Case Study
Building a Case
Before constructing his new home with Douglas Danks Associates in Minnesota, Robert Pfeffer performed a cost-benefit analysis comparing the investment in upgrades such as structural insulated panels to standard construction and its affect on future operating costs.
He chose Thermocore SIPs. “To me, it was good business,” Robert said. “It made more sense to invest the money in the house now and reduce our ongoing costs in the future.”
Energy Savings Worth Publicizing
The 4,000 square-foot SIPs home designed by Doug Danks in North Oaks, Minn., was featured in a four-part segment of a syndicated TV program highlighting green construction, and will soon appear in Luxury Homes Quarterly magazine. Since moving into the home three years ago, Robert and his wife Martha have enjoyed significantly lower utility bills each month, thanks to the SIPs, a ground source heat pump system and LED lighting.
“It made absolute sense to them as a business model to invest in this really high-quality, energy-efficient construction now and lower their operating expenses in the future,” Doug said. “It bears out the fact that what you invest today—even if it's a slight premium over standard construction—in the end saves a ton of money.”
How Thermocore Beats Other SIPs
Doug first became concerned about resource usage and sustainable building in graduate school two decades ago. He designed his first SIPs project in 1997 and now uses Thermocore insulated panels almost exclusively.
“I continue incorporating Thermocore SIPs because of the quality of the product,” he said. “I've done many comparisons with styrene foam-based panels and just wasn't happy with their systems. They're more piecemeal in terms of panel configurations. Thermocore SIPs deliver a turnkey system—entire wall sections with window and door openings integrated in a large panel.”
That turnkey system helps Doug's contractors, too. “From what I've experienced with other structural insulated panels where you pull wires through a channel, it just isn't very friendly for electrical contractors. With Thermocore's integration of the electrical systems in terms of device locations, switch boxes and conduits, I always hear from my electrical contractors how much easier it is to work with.”
Doug also appreciates the strength of Thermocore SIPs. “Thermocore's polyurethane foam bonds itself to the OSB skins,” Doug said. “I've been concerned about having styrene foams adhesive-adhered to OSB. Thermocore offers a much stronger panel in terms of the integrity of the bond. Definitely it's much stronger than conventional wood framing.”
In addition, Thermocore SIPs stand up stronger in extreme conditions, whether that's Minnesota's cold climate or unexpected blazes. “I like the fact that Thermocore's polyurethane-insulated panels have a much higher flashpoint than styrene-based foams,” Doug said. “It's a safer material to incorporate if there's the unfortunate event of a fire.”
The strength of Thermocore structural insulated panels helped give the Pfeffers their sustainable dream home. “We wanted a house with a life of 100 to 150 years, not 50,” Martha said. “We've all had houses that drive you crazy because they always need maintenance or some major upgrade. Most of the stick-built houses just aren't built that well.” With the strength of maintenance-free Thermocore SIPs, the Pfeffer's home will outlast those other homes—and cost much less along the way!
Jim Rounsevell Architecture - Virginia
Rounsevell Case Study
Building a Case
Outside the nation's capital in northern Virginia, Jim Rounsevell designs AIA award-winning homes. Although green building has never been an explicit part of his agenda, “Why anyone is stick building these days is nuts to me,” he said.
Bottom Line Trumps Green Bling
Jim focuses on reducing energy consumption. “If you save someone $400
per month in their heating bill, it means something — more than eco-
flooring and what the counter tops are made of,” he said.
That's why Jim uses Thermocore structural insulated panels. “They form
a highly energy-efficient envelope, greatly reducing conduction and air
leakage,” he said.
According to an independent energy analysis of Jim's homes, a
conventionally built house of the same size in the same location would
suffer annual fuel costs of $4,944. Jim's new homes with Thermocore's
SIPs boast estimated fuel costs of $2,220 per year — a 55% savings!
Using Thermocore structural insulated panels also helped the houses
earn an ENERGY STAR rating, which qualifies buyers for an energy-efficient
mortgage program through the federal government. The dollar savings
give you an edge in convincing hesitant buyers to proceed with their
dream home now!
Seconding the Motion
Jim isn't the only one sold on Thermocore structural insulated panels. When the builder hired someone who travels the east coast installing SIPs from a wide variety of manufacturers, “He told me, ‘You know you've bought the Cadillac of structural insulated panels.’ I said, ‘Yes, I knew that.’”
Jim also recommended Thermocore structural insulated panels to a fellow architect. “I told him there's no question. You can look at anything else you want, but you'll come back and buy Thermocore panels. Sure enough, he called me two weeks later and said, ‘You were right.’ Now he's built three houses with Thermocore panels.”
As Risky as Brick
Jim compared the cost of using Thermocore structural insulated panels to putting brick on the house. “We're talking about another $20 or so per month on your mortgage, but the payoff for the performance of the panels is within five to six years,” he said.
Approximately 25 percent of the exterior surface of a typical house is in contact with its frame. “Why add all that thermal bridging with stick framing when you can use a wall panel system that's stronger and pre-insulated, with 20 percent of your electrical rough-in factory-installed, and it gets you under roof in three days?” Jim concluded.
Rodney Wright Architecture - Kentucky
Wright Architecture Case Study
Building a Case
Since architect Rodney Wright discovered Thermocore's insulated wall and roof panels six years ago, he's used them in every one of his designs — including his own home. Why?
Highest Insulation with Most Flexibility
Panels with expanded polystyrene (EPS) offer R-values in the teens. Thermocore
panels with polyurethane feature R-24 in wall panels and R-40 in roof panels.
“Polyurethane is a better R-value per inch,” Rodney said.
Thermocore also custom-fabricates panels based on each customer's
architectural drawings or CAD files. “It's very flexible; you can make the panels fit
your design,” Rodney said.
Fast, Easy Construction
To help speed the construction process, Thermocore produces shop drawings
before they ship the panels. “Give those drawings to the foundation people, and
by the time the panels come, everything lines up,” Rodney said. “If it's a couple
inches off, the panels are very forgiving.”
Once the panels arrive, experienced crews handle every step of installation. “The
crews they send are like ballet dancers,” Rodney said. “Everybody knows what
they're doing; no wasted minutes at all.” On one of Rodney's homes, the crew
arrived at 7 a.m. on a Tuesday, installed all the wall and roof panels, cleaned up,
and left by 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Tight House, Low Bills
The quick installation includes the crews putting foam on every single joint to seal it. In the first home Rodney designed with Thermocore panels, the utility company conducted two blower door tests — they didn't believe the first one so they hired a consultant and the test came back with the same record-setting results the second time. “It was the tightest house the electrical coop had ever seen,” Rodney said.
Expert Handyman Services - Michigan
Tyrer Case Study
Building a Case
The State of Michigan adopted the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) to increase air tightness and energy efficiency, ultimately saving homeowners money. The previous code required that blower door testing for new home construction register no more than 7 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals (ACH50); the new IECC requires no more than 4 ACH50.
Many builders struggle to reach the new standard, but not Paul Tyrer. The 1,400 square foot, one-story home he built near Traverse City, Michigan, with Thermocore structural insulated panels tested at 1.98 ACH50—“much better than the current code requires and twice as good as the [new] code will require,” said Max Strickland of Traverse City's Strickland Ewing and Associates in the blower door test report. “The builder and subcontractors are to be congratulated for their air sealing efforts. They did an outstanding job.”
Consistently Exceeding Code
Paul spent decades building mostly for General Motors employees and executives before starting Expert Handyman Services, Inc., in Traverse City. Once customers discovered his experience, he found himself building new homes again.
Home built by Paul Tyrer
He started with 2 x 6 construction with cellulose insulation blown into the walls.
When Michigan adopted the stricter IECC, he looked for a more energy-efficient
method. “With 2 x 6 construction, I can't get the R-40 of Thermocore SIPs; the
max I can do is about R-24,” he said. “Thermocore structural insulated panels are
so much tighter.”
Thermocore's stud-less insulated panels eliminate thermal breaks so Paul—and
the inspectors—don't need to worry about air leakage. “I'm already two times
the new code requirements,” Paul said. “Max [Strickland] told me, ‘I won't have
to watch you. Just keep doing what you're doing.’”
The air tightness of Thermocore structural insulated panels translates into lower
utility bills for the life of the house, but many builders and homeowners
mistakenly believe that SIPs cost more than traditional construction. According
to Paul, “There was no added cost to using Thermocore structural insulated panels.”
In addition, owners of SIPs homes benefit when they sell. In the report for the blower door test, Max told Paul, “Encourage the homeowner to retain [the results of the blower door test], as tight homes are beginning to have value in the marketplace because everyone agrees they're less expensive to operate and more comfortable to live in.”
With Thermocore SIPs, Paul also enjoys the speed of construction. On a 4,400 square foot Traverse City home, “From the time the semi arrived to all the walls being up, it took only two days and it was ready for trusses,” he said. “That would take two weeks with 2 x 6 construction. Thermocore SIPs go together nice and easy.”
The carpenter agreed.
“He said the SIPs saved 10 days of labor, in
addition to all the clean-up and waste from
stick building,” Paul shared.
In all of Paul's projects, once the structural
insulated panels are in place, “We can work
year-round because it's already insulated,”
he said. “Even in the rough stage, the guys can work through bitter cold because the winds aren't blowing through a hollow shell. We put a space heater in there and they can start framing and interior work because it's already sealed up.”
Treasure Homes - Indiana
Oudman Case Study
Building a Case
With the help of Thermocore structural insulated panels, Sarah Oudman, president of Treasure Homes, set out to build an affordable green home--and ended up with the first Indiana home certified to the Emerald level of the National Green Building Standard, one of only 22 homes in the nation to receive the highest-level certification.
The home also earned the Energy Value Housing Award for Custom/Demonstration houses in cold climates, presented by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and the Livable Communities Award for homes up to 2,500 square feet, presented by the American Association of Retired Persons and the NAHB.
Located in The Village in Burns Harbor, Indiana, the first development in the country certified under the National Green Building Standard, the home is priced at less than $250,000, including the lot and landscaping, with energy savings of 60% or more.
In a unique parade of homes, Sarah and five other members of the Porter County Builders Association (PCBA) showcased the affordable green homes they built in The Village using a variety of green technologies. Oudman's house with Thermocore structural insulated panels earned the best Home Energy Rating (HERS) Index score. With 1,650 square feet, the home boasts an average utility bill of only $50 per month, according to the HERS rater who assessed the house as built.
Treasure Homes accomplished that feat without fancy, high-priced options. “With Thermocore's SIPs, you're not gaining significant R-value from your siding, so you can do vinyl or a less expensive trim package,” Sarah said. “A number of things could change and not change the $50 energy bill.”
In the November 2009 issue of GreenBuilder magazine that featured PCBA's green parade of homes, Cati O'Keefe, editor-in-chief, said, “These are real builders, building attractive single-family homes, and the secret to their success is keeping it simple and providing buyers with a house that is well-insulated and comfortable — and not getting bogged down in complicated technology or products that may not have a return on investment at this price point.”
What Builders Like
Sarah's home served as the Education House on the green parade of homes, with the interior finished only to pre-drywall, allowing visitors to see the Thermocore SIPs. “A number of builders came through and commented on the air tightness,” Sarah said. “They also liked the ease of construction, the straight walls, and the timeframe — the Thermocore structural insulated panels go up very quickly to close in the structure.”
With the Thermocore SIPs in place, Treasure Homes kept the thermostat at 60 degrees. “The subcontractors who worked there in the winter commented on how comfortable the house stays at a lower temperature,” Sarah said.
No Stud Needed
Because of her background in trim carpentry, Sarah also paid attention to how well shelves, towel bars, and other features attached to the walls. “Most people at some point have had trouble hanging a picture frame. With the OSB base on Thermocore's SIPs, you always have wood to tie into,” she said.
Glenville Timberwrights - Wisconsin
Holmes Case Study
Building a Case
When a devastating flood washed out Tom Holmes' Wisconsin timber framing business in 2008, he decided to showcase green building techniques as he rebuilt. He used spray foam in the walls of his shop and production area, and Thermocore structural insulated wall and roof panels in the office area.
“That spray foam contractor lobbied us for years to use his product,” Tom said. “In reality, it just doesn't compare to the
Thermocore structural insulated panels.”
In January 2010, Tom, president of Glenville Timberwrights, asked his HVAC
contractor to test his building with a heat gun. The temperature outside hit zero
degrees that day. In the shop area, the walls registered in the 50-degree range. But
in the office area covered with Thermocore structural insulated panels, the walls,
windows, and floor all registered in the 70-degree range.
Spray Foam Thermocore SIPs
“It was very consistent from room to room, floor to ceiling,” Tom said. “Our HVAC
contractor said he'd never experienced anything like that in 30 years of business.
The way these insulated panels wrap up the building with seamless construction is
far superior to any other product that uses studs to interrupt the insulation.”
Key to Competitiveness
Now Tom chooses Thermocore structural insulated panels for all his home
construction projects. “We'd been with EPS panels for 20 years, but we realized that
Thermocore SIPs with polyurethane offer a thinner panel with more R-value.”
Thermocore SIPs also help Tom stay profitable. “When we used thicker panels, we added $1,500 per window package for the extension jambs,” he said. “With Thermocore's four-inch thick panels and just a half-inch of drywall, we order normal window sizes without jamb extensions. That saves a lot of money on our window packages and helps us stay competitive with conventional construction.”
Tom likes the wire chases and the outlet boxes molded right into Thermocore's SIPs, but most of all he enjoys the consistency. “We had issues with quality control from our previous panel supplier, but we found that Thermocore's quality is just excellent!” he raved.
Tom also appreciated Thermocore's support in difficult times. “Pat Egan (president of Thermocore) really stepped to the plate and helped us through the whole rebuilding process,” Tom said. "He turned out to be a great business partner."
For Tom's team, Thermocore's service saves time and trouble. “Previously, our designer had to design all the panels for the house; now we just send Thermocore our plans and they design the entire SIPs package. It's really pretty seamless. We haven't needed lengthy conversations. It's not even necessary to involve our designer, which frees her up to do the architectural elements that are more important to us.”
Stephens Construction - New York
Haroth Case Study
Building a Case
Here's why Steve uses Thermocore panels:
Unless you build a home right, you can't get the highest return on your investment. “If you look at the lifetime energy use of an average home, mine comes in at half of that — in some cases even a third,” Steve pointed out.
The panels are five to six times tighter on air changes than traditional construction methods. “A big part of the money savings comes from building a virtually airtight envelope and minimizing the air that goes in and out of the house,“ Steve said.
The temperature stays where you put it in Thermocore homes. One of Steve's customers has never turned on the air conditioning in two-and-a-half years of living in his new home. Another customer dials down his radiant floor heating because the Thermocore envelope holds heat so well.
The panels are stronger than a 2 x 6 home. “The walls are very quiet and solid,” Steve said. “There's a security you feel when you're inside the home.”
Thermocore panels use fewer resources. “Expanded polystyrene (EPS) panels require more thickness for the same R-value; it just doesn't make sense to consume more materials when we can use Thermocore panels with polyurethane,” Steve concluded. With outside layers of oriented strand board, Thermocore panels consume only half the lumber of stick framing.
Maximizing Energy Savings
Because of Steve's reputation for energy-efficient results, one of his homes was accepted into the High-Performance Residential Design Challenge sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). With the help of NYSERDA, Steve and the homeowner upgraded to the most energy-efficient design elements with the best return on investment. That included 6 1/2-inch Thermocore panels with an R-value of 40.
When finished, the 2,500-square-foot home is projected to boast a HERS Score of 92.8, besting the Energy-Star required score of 86. Steve also plans to apply for LEED Gold-level certification.
“The highest and best use of a home is to house the family with comfort and storage in mind while costing the least amount of energy in the long-term,” Steve maintains. “Using Thermocore panels is a no-brainer.”
Barton Designs - Wisconsin
Rynish Case Study
Building a Case
Bart Rynish, owner of Barton Designs, a Wisconsin-based builder and Energy Star partner, has built green homes for years. But his latest creation, combining Thermocore walls with other insulating features, set a new Wisconsin record.
The home allows an average of just 3 percent of the air to be exchanged every hour. According to Energy Star, 25 percent is acceptable. The Wisconsin building code permits up to half of the air to escape through leaks every hour — at a cost of $500 to $600 per year. With just 3 percent infiltration, the cost for this home drops to less than $15 per year, Bart said.
After testing the home, Bill Hurrle, the Energy Star rater, confirmed, “Amazing house. Tightest ever—ridiculously tight. This house will cruise on even cold winter days.”
“Air tightness determines about 50 percent of your heating bill, and the other 50 percent relates to R-value,” Bart said. Thermocore panels cut costs on both fronts, with panels up to 8-foot by 24-foot to minimize joints for a tight seal, and an R-value of 24 in standard four-inch panels or R-40 in the optional six-and-a-half-inch panels used in this home.
In fact, with the insulating properties of this house, owner Ron Wesoloski chose not to install a furnace. Solar hot water warms the basement floor, which radiates heat to the upstairs. Small electric heaters help maintain air temperature, and a clean-burning wood pellet stove provides back-up heat.
On a sunny winter day, “You don't need any heat,” Bart said. “If there's no sun, just use a little bit of pellet stove. If the home were just a little further south, you probably wouldn't even need the pellet stove.”
Goodbye drafts and energy bandits. “In a normal home, you can feel wind coming through the outlets,” Bart said. ”But with Thermocore walls, the whole home is sealed up.”
Rocky Ridge Designs - Georgia
Smith Case Study
Building a Case
The first home Art Smith, LEED AP, worked on with Thermocore insulated wall and roof panels received a HERS rating of 67, predicting monthly power usage at 1,400 kilowatt hours (kWh). Not bad considering the typical house built to code rates 100 on the HERS scale.
But after 12 months in the 2,600 square-foot, all-electric home, the homeowner averaged just 638 kWh per month—less than half the predicted amount.
“A big part of the difference comes from the SIPs,” said Art, owner of Rocky Ridge Designs in Ellijay, Georgia. “When you build with Thermocore's high-caliber SIPs, the energy efficiency in the real world is much, much better than the formalized testing predicts. We've seen that pattern quite a bit.”
Since guests in the basement of this Energy Star home required extra heat last winter, Art predicts next year's average will fall below 600 kWh.
Art attributes the real-world performance of Thermocore SIPs to the tightness achieved two different ways. First, with polyurethane foam injected between two OSB boards, “The insulation is generally more consistent and therefore tighter, so less air leaks in,” he said.
In addition, during construction, “When you depend on a crew to hand-cut and hand-fit all the little pieces in bad weather and all kinds of conditions, the craftsmanship in the field is not good,” Art said. “SIPs built in a factory are better than anything we can do in the field, which eliminates even more air leakage.”
That tightness shows up consistently in field tests. “The reputation of structural insulated panels has gotten so good, Energy Star doesn't require a blower test for SIPs homes anymore,” Art said. “When a government agency does that, it tells you there's enough reasonable data in the field to say it's a good construction technology.”
More Modular, Less Expensive
In his business, Art offers home packages consisting of a timber truss roof system, floor plan drawings, and SIP shop drawings. The thickness of Thermocore insulated wall panels provides a sturdy foundation for the roof trusses, and the large SIP panel sizes (eight feet by up to twenty-four feet) make construction easier and less expensive, he said.
“Bigger panels mean the house is more modular and airtight. Because of their modularity, the SIPs go together quickly. For the houses I've built with Thermocore SIPs, we got the walls up in a little over a day and the roof in another day-and-a-half. That saves a significant amount of dollars in labor, even with a boom truck out there to help.”
Thin on Top
While the large size of the insulated wall panels saves money, Art points out that Thermocore insulated roof panels are actually smaller than equal-performing competitors.
In Art's location at the edge of the Appalachian mountains, the national building code requires an R-38 roof. “To reach that R-value, you need a 10-inch thick roof in just about any insulation technology except polyurethane,” he said.
Thermocore's six-and-a-half-inch, polyurethane roof panels provide R-40 insulation. “To get the same R-value with EPS, you need another four inches of thickness,” Art added. “That bothers some people, so they do cosmetic fixes and add other costs.”
In the end, “Because Thermocore SIPs are made in the factory, customized to your drawings, the quality of the construction is better,” Art concluded.
La Mesilla Construction - New Mexico
Young Case Study
Building a Case
Picture a triangle with the top point labeled “good,” the bottom left labeled “fast,” and the bottom right labeled “inexpensive.” That's the construction paradigm John Young, LEED AP, owner of La Mesilla Construction in New Mexico, struggled to reconcile. To achieve one goal, he had to sacrifice the other two—until he found Thermocore structural insulated panels.
“For every project, you try to find the right price point and work with the time
constraints to achieve the best product possible,” John said. “You juggle that
paradigm. But Thermocore is the paradigm buster. It's all three—good, fast, and
Since he constructed his own energy-efficient home 26 years ago, John looked for
ways to keep building better. “I can build a 2 x 6 wall and it'll be cheaper than
Thermocore SIPs, but at best I'll get an R-value of 11,” John said. “That's not
comparing apples to apples. It's a lot more expensive when you look at life cycle
costs and how much you're going to spend to condition that space.”
After three years of using Thermocore SIPs in six residential and commercial
projects, John concluded, “If you try to get anywhere close to the R-value of
Thermocore's insulated wall systems, you can't build it cheaper.”
Not that John didn't try. “There's something to be said for having a local supplier, but Thermocore SIPs remain competitive on costs,” he said. “I've gotten pricing from others, but I need service, too. Pat, Kelly, and Brad [from Thermocore] call back, they're quick, and they're responsive. I get amazing turnaround time.”
Part of what distinguishes Thermocore structural insulated panels is the extra touches, John said. “Suppliers in this area aren't even close to being competitive. On the electrical side, they charge for every foot of conduit and every receptacle box; with Thermocore SIPs, all the electrical is included. You just tell them what you want.”
John finds the same flexibility on the structural side. “If you want to install a ceiling fan, just let Thermocore know and they put a board above that junction box so you're not screwing the fan into the OSB or trying to attach it to the box. If you need any structural requirements in the SIPs walls, Thermocore puts them in.”
Giant Legos with Clearspan
Another advantage for John lies in the size of Thermocore SIPs. “Without any special engineering, I get a 12-foot clearspan for roof panels. That can eliminate a whole lot of structure to give more open spaces. We stand up a big portion of the building with each wall panel. By using less labor and less wood with the wall and roof panels, I save a lot of money.”
Thermocore's structural insulated panels also conserve time. “All the structure I need to put in exterior walls is already there,” John explained. “I have a pre-manufactured beam pocket. All I need to do is lower the beam. It's amazingly modular, just like giant Legos. It goes together so fast.”
The end result John gains from building with Thermocore SIPs: “It's amazingly, extremely tight, and ultimately energy-efficient.”
Eric Habben - Nevada
Habben Case Study
Building a Case
Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, builder Eric Habben faces summer days up to 110 degrees and winter nights in the teens. Yet despite the extreme temperatures and skyrocketing utility costs, Eric resolved to build an oasis from energy concerns. After much research, he chose Thermocore wall and roof panels.
Comfortable Temperatures No Matter the Climate
Outside temperatures don't matter in Eric's highly insulated Thermocore home.
Last year he used just 10 gallons of propane to heat the house. During the
summer, “My air conditioner may kick on for 20 minutes in the late afternoon on
the hottest of days,” he said.
The result: “My highest electric bill was $77 a month, but it averages $36 for
most of the year.”
Not All Panels Are Created Equal
The insulating value of Thermocore's panels wasn't the only benefit Eric
discovered. “Some structural insulated panels go together much better than
others, and Thermocore's system is remarkable,” Eric said. “Other manufacturers
ship blank panels so the builder has to cut out door and window openings
Thermocore makes all the cuts at the factory using precision machinery that
ensures an excellent fit with virtually no waste in the manufacturing process or
at the jobsite. With that attention to detail, Eric erected the entire shell of his
3,200 square-foot home in less than four days.
Sanctuary Custom Homes - Colorado
Riccio Case Study
Building a Case
"Thermocore structural insulated panels are 15 years ahead of everyone else with their CNC cutting technology and attention to detail," said Tom Riccio, president of Sanctuary Custom Homes in Granby, Colorado. "I don't want to use anyone else's SIPs because I know they're not as good. I've tried other manufacturers and nothing compares."
For the past five years, every house Tom's company
built, including his own home, featured Thermocore's
insulated wall panels. "Once I got clued into Thermocore,
I never looked back," he said.
Precision to Count On
When Tom used structural insulated panels from other
manufacturers, he constantly dealt with cutting mistakes
in the electrical, windows, and overall dimensions of the
"Thermocore insulated panels come out extremely
square because of their ability to run them on a CNC
machine in the factory, whereas others hand-cut their
panels," Tom said. "With everything on a CNC machine,
we know the windows are cut to the exact specifications
we asked for and the panels fit our exact measurements."
That precision speeds up Tom's construction schedule.
"With Thermocore insulated wall panels, we'll stand a
4,000 square-foot house in two to three days. They're
extremely easy to put up. I haven't stick framed in over five years."
Creating Business in a Cold Market
With his company located near Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Tom's customers face brutal winters, with daytime temperatures often hovering below negative 10. "It's not uncommon to go 25 to 30 degrees below zero at night and stay there for a week," Tom said.
To cope with those conditions, customers increasingly come to Tom looking for the R-40 insulation of Thermocore's six-and-a-half-inch SIPs. "It's turned into a niche business for us," he said. "We started our company five years ago when the market turned bad, but we've been very blessed with new customers."
Cutting Utility Bills by One-Third
"When you have an R-40 wall vs. R-18 or R-23 from other SIPs, you really pick up the savings quickly," Tom continued. "Within three years, customers get their money back through energy savings."
For those customers who don't already know about SIPs, Tom presents a surefire selling point: "Their heating bills will be reduced by about a third," he said. "We've never had anyone question us on the SIPs. It's an extremely easy sell."
The savings multiply through summer, too. "None of our houses have air conditioning," Tom said. At 8,500-feet elevation, summer lows dip to around 45 degrees. With Thermocore SIPs, "We're able to keep the coolness of the house. It's just so tight that air conditioning isn't needed. That's another selling point."
Making it All Look Easy
In addition to the precision cutting and insulating value, Tom appreciates the ease of working with Thermocore. "They're extremely professional," he concluded. "Pat (Egan, owner of Thermocore) has a great staff with Kelly and Brad. They make it very easy to get this done."
UBuildit Custom Homes and Remodeling - Wisconsin
Meyer Case Study
Building a Case
As the owner and planning consultant for UBuildIt Custom Homes and Remodeling in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Joe Meyer searches for better ways to build high-quality, energy-efficient homes for his budget-conscious customers. That's why he conducted a comparative study of traditional stick framing vs. Thermocore structural insulated wall panels.
On a 2,200 square-foot ranch home, Joe found that Thermocore's six-and-a-half-inch, R-40 insulated wall panels add $3,000 to $4,000 to the cost of the home—about 1 percent of the total job cost—with many unexpected savings. He estimates payback on the SIPs cost in three to five years, with ongoing energy savings for the life of the home.
Doing the SIPs Math
In determining the true cost of SIPs, Joe looked at many unexpected savings opportunities.
"Obviously when you build with SIPs you save on lumber over stick framing," Joe said. "You
also save on the insulation cost because that's already included with the wall. You cut labor
expenses, because Thermocore SIPs can be installed faster than a traditional wall. We can
easily drop three days on a project. With our labor costs at $750 per day, that's a savings of
Joe even saves on waste removal when he uses Thermocore SIPs. "Instead of bringing in three
dumpsters on a typical 2,200 square-foot ranch, we use two dumpsters," he said. "With SIPs,
you generate less garbage. You don't think of that until you're doing a project, but it all adds
Of course the savings don't stop once the home is constructed. "I'd safely say that the SIPs
save 30 to 40 percent on heating and cooling costs for the life of the home," he said.
Thermocore SIPs vs. EPS
Joe tried SIPs with Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam, but now uses Thermocore panels with Polyurethane insulation. "With Thermocore SIPs, you get R-40 in a six-inch wall vs. R-24 in a six-inch EPS wall," he said, which multiplies the insulation power.
In addition, Thermocore SIPs save money in the field. "Thermocore's panel design is more accurate and detail-oriented than several other manufacturers I've used," Joe said. "If you don't start with an accurate design, you end up with lots of field modifications, and we don't like the time or cost involved with that."
Customers Never Go Back
Joe's homes are rapidly gaining recognition from the community. The SIPs model home Joe's team built for the 2010 Metropolitan Builder's Association Parade of Homes won the Overall Grand Award and the People's Choice Award.
About two-thirds of Joe's customers choose Thermocore SIPs over traditional stick framing. "Those who live in SIPs houses like them significantly more," he said. "There are no air drafts and our customers really like that their homes stay quiet. We build on a lot of country lots, and the winds can whip around. With our SIPs homes, you don't hear that outside noise."
Customers who live in SIPs homes tell Joe they'll never again build another way. "They all love it, and they all say it's definitely worth the money."
Purdue University - Indiana
Purdue Home with Thermocore SIPs Takes Second in International Competition
Purdue University's INhome, built by a multidisciplinary group of students with Thermocore structural insulated wall and roof panels, finished second overall in the Solar Decathlon 2011, an international competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The 19 homes in the competition were judged in 10
areas. Purdue tied for first in the Energy Balance
category, producing more energy than it consumed,
and placed second in both Affordability (at just over
$250,000) and Comfort Zone (meaning the home
stayed within a narrow range of comfortable
temperatures and humidity).
Low Cost, High Performance
"We hammered on the budget for
affordability and wanted to make sure it performed
well," said Eric Holt, a doctoral student at Purdue
and the team's construction manager. "The SIPs
were more cost-effective than other options we
explored because they gave us a very highly
insulated, well-sealed thermal package."
Thermocore's four-inch SIPs allowed Purdue's team
to achieve their goals in a small space. Because the
contest required 1,000 square feet or less, "We knew
we had to maximize our insulation value and minimize the wall size," Holt said. "To get the same R-values in stick-frame construction, we needed 12-inch or thicker walls."
The INhome was tested much more than a normal home, starting with its construction. Purdue's team first built the house on campus in West Lafayette, Indiana. Then they took it apart and rebuilt it for practice. Next they took it apart again, shipped it to Washington, D.C., for the contest, and rebuilt it. Finally, they took it apart, shipped it home, and rebuilt it on a permanent foundation.
"Being able to do that was a true testament to Thermocore SIPs," Holt said. "We had drywall touch-ups, but only where we cut it apart. The builders and drywallers couldn't believe we didn't experience more cracking. It's due to the SIPs being very rigid and strong."
Before deciding to use Thermocore's insulated wall and roof panels, Purdue's team researched SIPs manufacturers throughout the country. "Thermocore has many advantages over the competition, including the higher R-value with the polyurethane insulation and the green, no-waste system of building the insulated panels," Holt said. "We really liked that we got a true four-inch wall with the conduit and electrical boxes built right into the panel. That's what really sold us."
Pat Egan, president of Thermocore, donated the structural insulated panels for the INhome. "We really enjoyed working with Pat; he taught us a lot," Holt said.
Victory and Legacy
Purdue's group beat out 17 other teams, including four from outside the U.S. Only the University of Maryland's team scored higher. Held every two years, the Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.
Purdue's INhome now sits on a permanent foundation in a revitalized area of Lafayette. After public showings throughout the winter, the home will be sold to a low-income family.
Andy and Christen Arnold – Indiana
Arnold Case Study
Building a Case
As Andy and Christen Arnold contemplated the design of their new home in southwest Indiana, Paul Singleton
(see his energy savings) invited them to tour his home built with Thermocore wall and roof SIPs. “I grew up in
a two-story home and I remember how hot it got on the second floor in the summer, even with air
conditioning units in the windows,” Andy said. “When we headed up the stairs of Paul’s home, the first thing
I noticed was the comfortable temperature. On the way home, my wife said, ‘I’ve never been in a house in
my life where the temperature never changed!’”
Why Thermocore SIPs?
After that experience, the Arnolds researched structural insulated panel options and liked what they found at
Thermocore, including extensive quality checks before any panel ships and the heavy-duty polyurethane foam. “People who come see our house can’t believe how strong the foam in our panels is,” Andy said. “They’re thinking something kind of spongy, but it’s amazing how solid this stuff is.”
To design their 3,500 square-foot timber frame home, the Arnolds worked with The Beamery, who also recommended Thermocore SIPs for energy efficiency and structural strength.
“Can’t Get Any Easier”
The Arnolds installed all 48 insulated wall panels and 36 insulated roof panels themselves. “Christen ran the
telehandler and I set every one of them,” Andy said. “I never built a house from the ground up before, but I’ve
worked on construction projects and I like doing this. The Thermocore SIPs went together very well.”
Despite working mostly in the evenings and weekends because of their full-time jobs, they completed SIPs
installation in just two-and-a-half weeks. While most homeowners rely on Thermocore’s installers, Andy and
Christen can personally attest to the quick, easy shell construction. “With the windows already cut out in
Thermocore’s SIPs, we just stood up the walls,” he said. “The wiring can’t get any easier; you’ve already got
your conduit and boxes so it’s easy to set up. We’ve been very satisfied.”
Paul & Barbara Singleton - Indiana
Singleton Case Study
Building a Case
Shortly after Paul and Barbara Singleton moved into their new timber frame home, built
with Thermocore wall and roof SIPs just north of Vincennes, Indiana, their electric
provider offered a free energy audit. “The technician who did the test was blown away,”
Paul shared. “He said it was the tightest house he ever tested—by far. He had no
recommendations that would make it any better. Needless to say, we were thrilled to
verify that all our planning was right on target. Thermocore SIPs do work as advertised!”
“Don’t Even Think about Another Product”
When Paul and Barbara first considered building a new home, they
called for information on Thermocore structural insulated panels
and Pat Egan, Thermocore’s owner, invited them to visit. “He spent all the time we
needed,” Paul said. “We came away feeling good that the Big Dog took the time to meet
with somebody who hadn’t even committed to using the product.” The couple liked
what they heard, “especially how easy Thermocore SIPs go together compared to other
insulated panels,” Paul said. Their timber frame designer, John Hayes of Ellettsville,
Indiana, confirmed their SIPs choice. “He built many homes with structural insulated
panels and told us, ‘Don’t even think about any product besides Thermocore.’”
Four years after moving in, Paul and Barbara appreciate the comfort of their Thermocore SIPs home. “We don’t have any cold places, hot places, or drafts,” Paul said. “We’ve had people who were in our house for less than an hour comment, ‘Boy, it sure feels comfortable in here!’” With 5,500 square feet and geothermal heating and cooling, the Singletons average just $215 per month on their electric bills—even with the 27-foot-high living room ceiling. “If our bill had been twice that we wouldn’t have been surprised,” Paul said. “Our friends with similar size homes pay at least $500 for their heat in the winter.” With low utility bills, fast construction (just three weeks from the start of floor systems in the Singleton’s home to a completely enclosed structure), and comfort every day, “We wonder why more people don’t use Thermocore structural insulated panels at least on their walls, if not their whole house,” Paul said.
Karl & Kris Buss - Kentucky
Buss Case Study
Building a Case
Karl and Kris Buss hadn't gone out of their way to live a “green” lifestyle. When they built a house for the first time, they just wanted something they could afford to construct and live in for the rest of their lives.
“We decided to invest once in the structure of our home instead of monthly in the utility company for the next 30-plus years,” Karl said. With that mindset, they found a certified green builder who, based on his experience, recommended
No Custom Accessories Required
For Karl, the most attractive feature was getting R-24 insulation in a four-inch
wall. “If you go to a thicker wall with another manufacturer, you've got to
adjust every standard item out there,” he said. “With Thermocore wall panels,
we used standard doors and windows without modification — and that really
Thermocore panels even save the wood and construction time normally
needed to frame a ceiling and build an attic. “We went with open architecture
because the insulation was built into the roof rather than on rafters on the
ceiling,” Karl said. No attic required.
Speedy Installation = Money in Pocket
Thermocore's crew erected the structural walls and roof of Karl's 3,000
square-foot home in five days. For his neighbor, it took six weeks to go from
foundation to an enclosed stick-built structure. How much do four or five construction workers earn in five weeks? That's what the Buss family saved just in building costs.
In fact, Thermocore's five-person installation team tipped the scales away from a local manufacturer of expanded polystyrene panels that Karl considered. “They only send one person to the jobsite,” he said. "If that person advises your general contractor's people, then the first few panels they install are all learning; they're more apt to make a mistake. With Thermocore's team, you don't lose the expertise. From the first panel to the last, the installation team already knows where to go, what to do, and in what order to do it. It was so much more efficient."
Even trim goes up faster on Thermocore's panels. “The finishing is much easier because the panels are all straight,” Karl said. “You don't need to make the trim fit a wall that isn't quite square.” Faster and easier, of course, equals less expensive.
But That's Not All
An unexpected benefit Karl and Kris found: Outside noises are drastically reduced in Thermocore homes. Goodbye car noises in the middle of the night and yapping dogs next door.
Now, with no gas power in their quiet home, the Buss family pays just $130 per month for all utility costs — including heating, air conditioning, sewer, water, and cooking.
Rodney Wright - Kentucky
Wright Case Study
Building a Case
You're probably looking at structural insulated panels because of their energy efficiency. Did you know how sturdy your house would be with Thermocore panels? Just ask Rodney Wright, who found the answer when winds over 60 miles per hour sent a 75-foot tree hurtling onto his 57-foot lot early one fall morning.
Sturdy Even When Others Fall
The tree damaged a small section of the roof and siding, broke one window, and popped off a three-foot section at the bottom of one of the panels. Rodney and his wife Sydney needed a forklift to move the tree, but they never had to worry about sleeping in their own home.
When ten friends showed up to help move the tree, "All those people were amazed at how strong the panels were and how well the wall was built," Rodney said. “The design of our house with the panels obviously resulted in a safe enclosure.”
Other homeowners weren't so lucky. “As we drove around town, where the frame homes had been hit in a similar situation, the trees dropped all the way down to the floor.” Where do you think those families stayed while they rebuilt their homes?
Resilient and Safe
Rodney lives in a seismic zone, and the huge tree caused a jolt large enough to disturb the entire structure of the home. Not to worry. “The walls are still perfectly plumb,” Rodney said. “This huge thing fell down with a lot of weight, and it obviously pushed the house, but it responded and came back to its original shape.”
Thermocore panels use the same construction principles found in steel I-beams, making them two to three times stronger than today's stick-built walls. The foam core and the two outer skins form the I-beam matrix. Unique tongue and groove joints lock the entire house together, making it a structural system rather than separate wall sections.
Charon & Gene Gray - Kentucky
Gray Case Study
Building a Case
When Charon and Gene Gray retired, they wanted a passive solar home to save energy and help the environment. They pulled together many different features to achieve their goal, including the use of Thermocore wall and roof panels. As a result, their electric company certified the home as Touchstone energy-efficient, qualifying the Grays for cost reductions and incentives.
But despite all the unique features, the home looks like any other. "Unless we tell people we have panels, no one knows," Charon said.
Worth the Distance
Once the Grays decided to use structural insulated panels, they investigated all the options. Even though a closer plant offered panels with expanded polystyrene (EPS), when Charon saw a sample shipped from Thermocore, her choice was clear. The higher insulation value of Thermocore's panels — R-24 in every wall panel and R-40 in roof panels — caught her attention, and the construction quality sealed the deal. "Thermocore's panels are very sturdy and strong and offer features other panels do not," she said.
After the Grays poured an insulated concrete slab and erected the Thermocore panels, the house never got colder than 55 degrees--even before the heating and cooling system was installed. That made interior construction work much easier through the winter, and continues to bring down energy costs each month.
Eager to Please
Charon general contracted the house herself, something she'd never done before. “Of all the people I had to work with during construction of my house, Thermocore was the easiest,“ she said. Though she might do some things differently now that she has more experience, “the panels are not one of the things I'd change." Four years later she confirms, "They've lived up to expectations.”
Her new home even offers health benefits. While the heat exchanger handles air circulation, Thermocore panels provide an airtight barrier to keep away outside toxins that would otherwise irritate Charon's asthma and allergies. “When the electric company came in to test the house, it was super-tight,” Charon said. Outside air stays out and indoor air quality stays healthy.
William Cox - Kentucky
Cox Case Study
Building a Case
William Cox is an amateur photographer in central Kentucky and a stickler for keeping records. Many decisions went into building his dream home, including the use of Thermocore wall and roof panels.
William had done plenty of research into Thermocore panels and expected his new home to be energy-efficient and environmentally friendly — but even he was surprised by the savings he realized. Although William's new home is over 44 percent larger than his previous house, his heating and cooling bills remain 61% lower! Even though he enjoys a significantly larger home, he actually spends $115 less on utilities each month.
William Cox now lives in a beautiful new home, with an additional $115 in his pocket every month. What dream could you live with an extra $1,380 each year?
1,500 sq. ft.
Annual heating and cooling costs: $2,269
New Thermocore Home
2,650 sq. ft.
Annual heating and cooling costs: $889
Annual Savings: $1,380
Thermocore panels, helping the environment stay green, one panel at a time
Thermocore provides structural insulated panels (SIPs) to customers throughout Canada and the United States.