Reducing costs using structural insulated panels

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Structural insulated panels (SIPs) offer a construction system that can reduce both the construction cost and the operating cost of affordable housing, while maintaining a high degree of occupant comfort.

In new construction, high quality and high cost usually go hand in hand. But structural insulated panels (SIPs) can reduce both construction and operating costs without compromising the finished product. Learn more why you should use SIPS for your next project:  Reducing Costs of Affordable Housing

Download Our Brochures

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We’ve listed for you our brochures which you can download and print. Let us know if there is information which is not listed in these. We’d be more then happy to answer any of your questions.

  2. SS Structure Shield LR
  3. SIPS
  4. Residential – Commercial – Industrial
  5. Platinum WE-LR
  6. Log Home & Timber Frame
  7. Design & Drafting

SIPS Facts

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Platinum Structural Insulated Panels are made with graphite-infused polystyrene (GPS) insulation cores and provide up to 21% more R-Value per inch than our standard white EPS insulation.

Platinum Structural Insulated Panels are most effective when space is limited. The graphite-infused polystyrene (GPS) cores increase the R-Value per inch, thus requiring the need for large, multi-layered walls. West-Eco’s 6” GPS SIP provides an effective R-28 without the need for studs every 4’.

Our largest Structural Insulated Panel can be made up to 8’x24’ and from 4” to 12” in thickness. This means that in one full-sized sheet contains only EPS foam and an OSB sheet on either side, no studs required.

A primary benefit of SIPs in roofs is their long clear span capability. The large, single-piece panels can span up to 20 feet, reducing the need for interior columns or other support.

SIPs can meet easily meet the requirements of a green roof by providing fewer gaps in the roof system and can handle larger loads to accommodate the soil, plants, and water.

Builders can save money through decreased construction and labor costs. A high performance building envelope often allows HVAC equipment to be downsized and ductwork to be minimized.

Material costs of SIPs may cost no more than conventional stick framing…IF…the stick framed envelope is built to compare to the same efficiencies as SIPs provide.

Overall project costs of SIPs over 2×6 stick framed construction is up to 30% less!

SIP homes are 15 TIMES more airtight, and more energy efficient that a stick-framed home.

Stick-framed buildings rely on lumber at regular intervals to provide structural support. 15-25% of the shell of a stick-framed home is lumber, compared to as little as 3% in the shell of a typical SIP home.

Once the SIPs are installed, you can apply virtually any finish to polish off the exterior – stucco, stone, Hardie Board, brick or clapboard.

Efficient SIP building envelopes are a regular part of Net-Zero Energy Projects as well as those seeking Green Credentialing.

SIPs can be used in the roof system of a custom designed home where either a flat or low slope roof is present or where vaulted ceilings are desired.

When you pair the timeless beauty of Timber Framing with SIP Construction, you get a Green and Sustainable Building by using products that are renewable, provide long-term Energy Efficiency and will maintain Structural Integrity far longer than a typical stick frame building.

Any design or structure can be built using SIPs. West-Eco converts and creates in-house shop drawings from previously designed Architectural and Structural drawings.

Electrical chases come standard in all SIP packages. In the walls, the standard chases are at 16” and 45” horizontally from the floor and vertically, every 4’ running floor to ceiling.

Depending on the size and design of a home, it can be enclosed with SIPs within days or even hours. This saves money on labor, insurance, and financing, as well as energy on the job site.

SIPs cut heating and cooling costs by as much as 60% over products used for conventional “stick” construction.

Components that comprise SIPs come from renewable resources. The insulation is a form of recyclable plastic, and oriented strand board (OSB) is made from fast growing trees and shrubs once considered waste by the lumber industry.

Long-Term Benefits of Energy Efficiency

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Unfortunately, the perceived cost of going green is what deters most from building green and energy-efficient.
Let’s use light-bulbs as an example; if you were to see two light bulbs on the shelf that provided equal lighting, yet one cost $1.75 and the other $5.00, which would you pick?
Incandescent vs. LED – We will use the life-cycle cost of 25,000 hours; the lifespan of one LED.
Long Life Incandescent – lifetime of 1,500 hours, so we would need 17 bulbs to complete 25,000 hours of lighting. A single long-life incandescent runs around $1.75, so our total cost for bulbs over 25,000 hours would be $29.75.

As it uses 60 watts, over a period of 25,000 hours, an incandescent bulb would use 1,500,000 watt hours, or 1,500 kilowatt-hours. At the current approximate price of $0.08 per kilowatt-hour, you would have to pay $120.00 to run an incandescent bulb over this period.
Total cost of a 60-watt long-life incandescent bulb over a 25,000 hour lifespan is $149.75.
LED – lifetime of 25,000 hours and costs around $5.00; only 1 bulb needed.
As it uses 10 watts, over a period of 25,000 hours, an LED bulb would use 250,000 watt hours, or 250 kilowatt-hours. At the current approximate price of $0.08 per kilowatt-hour, you would have to pay $20.00 to run an LED bulb over this period.
Total cost of an LED bulb over a 25,000 hour lifespan is $25.00.

Cost Comparison & True Life Cycle Cost

The incandescent ends up being 500% more while creating 17 times the waste and keep in mind we haven’t even figured in the environmental impacts of 17 times the manufacturing, packaging & transportation. Now that you understand the life-cycle cost, which would you pick?
The most criticized issue about constructing environmentally friendly buildings is the price…the cost of building. Photovoltaics, new appliances, and modern technologies (like the LED) tend to cost more money. Most green buildings cost a premium of <2%, but yield 10 times as much over the entire life of the building. The stigma is between the knowledge of up-front cost vs. life-cycle cost. The savings in money come from more efficient use of utilities which result in decreased energy bills. It is projected that different sectors could save $130 Billion on energy bills. Also, higher worker or student productivity can be factored into savings and cost deductions.
Studies have shown over a 20 year life period, some green buildings have yielded $53 to $71 per square foot back on investment. Confirming the rent-ability of green and energy-efficient building investments, further studies of the commercial real estate market have found that LEED and Energy Star certified buildings achieve significantly higher rents, sale prices and occupancy rates as well as lower capitalization rates potentially reflecting lower investment risk.
So where do we start? Beginning with a resource efficient, well-sealed and effectively insulated building envelope is crucial for any home to be considered “green” and sustainable. Through the successful incorporation of a high performance SIP envelope with other green products and practices, builders can cost effectively build to green, LEED, Energy Star and NAHB Green Building standards.
SIPs are made from thick EPS foam cores sandwiched between OSB (Oriented Strand Board) panel faces. The OSB is made from fast-growing trees, and produced in a way that yields a large percentage of every tree. The foam itself is made from partially recycled material, and the final result is a large solid panel that arrives to the job site pre-cut.
Job-ready SIPs allow installers to install the roof, wall and floor panels without the need to cut, frame and trim excessive amounts of lumber and other materials. The job-ready feature of Premier SIPs panels, distributed by West-Eco Panelized Building Systems in Western Canada, reduces the amount of job site material waste by 60% when compared to buildings constructed with regular dimensional lumber and framing materials. Less waste is obviously better for our environment. In some cases, we have had projects that did not have hardly any waste at all.
When compared to buildings framed with dimensional lumber, Premier’s large SIPs cover greater surfaces with far fewer gaps in the walls and roofs, to be filled and sealed, offering home and building owners better indoor air quality, reduced infiltration of outside pollutants, smaller HVAC systems needs and superior indoor temperature control. Premier homes and buildings stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than buildings framed with dimensional lumber.
The R-Values are similar to those of other products. R-value is a static measurement of the resistance to heat flow. Premier SIPs have consistently outperformed other methods of construction in both whole wall R-value comparison and energy efficiency. The most dramatic results are the reports of the happy customers of PBS, but there is also a significant level of scientific data as well. One of the best measures of energy efficiency of an entire wall assembly has been developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). This testing method considers energy losses for the structural members, corners, joints and around windows, as well as, R- value of the insulation. Contact us for a full copy of this report.
While most of us are willing to invest a 500% premium on a light bulb that yields a return on investment, why is it such a hurdle to get people to invest more on a structure and using a process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout the building’s life-cycle that will provide an even bigger return on investment?

Quicker Construction Time

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This Ultra Energy Efficient Duplex Project in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories was completed to lockup stage in under 3 weeks by a 3 person crew that had never worked with SIPs previously. Pre-fabricated and Pre-insulated panels that are ready to assemble helped to provide a quick and simple energy efficient wall system to get out of the cold. The Platinum GPS SIPs are made with graphite-infused foam cores to achieve an effective R-37 across the entire length of the 8" thick panel.

SIPS Provide Dual Sound and Fire Performance

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Sound control is important in lodging structures, multi-family apartments, condominium complexes, as well as Senior Living Facilities or any building that includes dwelling units with shared walls.  Shared walls can mean unwanted noise from the unit next door and shared corridors can also mean less privacy.

For newer or remodeled multi-family housing units, Building Codes throughout Canada require a measure of sound privacy between dwelling units.  The National Building Code (NBC) specifies a minimum architectural design standard of privacy of 50 STC (Sound Transmission Class).


Testing by an independent laboratory confirms that WEST-ECO Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) reduce sound transmission, for a quieter indoor environment.  Certain wall assemblies using the panels achieve sound transmission class ratings (STC) of up to 58 and 59 – well above the STC 50 requirement for walls separating dwelling units.  Notably, these assemblies are also hourly fire-rated assemblies.

WEST-ECO SIPs provide builders and designers with energy efficiency, high STC ratings and hourly fire-rated assemblies in a framing system that the contractor can install very quickly.  With today’s construction labor shortages, Premier SIPs offers an exceptional system with fewer labor requirements than traditional framing products.






STC 55

  • Double 1/2″ Type X gypsum wallboard both sides
  • Two rows 2″x4″ studs 16″ o.c. or 24″ o.c. staggered
  • Absorptive material one side

STC 57

  • 1/2″ Type X gypsum wallboard both sides
  • Two rows 2″x4″ studs 16″ o.c. or 24″ o.c. on common 2″x6″ plate set 1″ apart
  • Absorptive material both sides


STC 48 or STC 49                                                                                                          

  • 5/8″ Type X gypsum wallboard both sides
  • Premier SIP
  • Proprietary sound clip with 2 1/2″ batt insulation




STC 58 or STC 59

  • Double 5/8″ Type X gypsum wallboard both sides
  • Premier SIP
  • Proprietary sound clip with 2 1/2″ batt insulation

STC / Hourly Wall Assembly Brochure

Fire Resistive Assemblies Bulletin 



Wall types currently used to achieve required STC ratings. STC 55 (Top), STC 57 (Bottom)


STC 48 or STC 49


STC 58 or STC 59


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img_1355An excellent Platinum GPS project delivered to Yellowknife, NWT. 8″ GPS SIP walls, Conventional Trusses.
Graphite Polystyrene Panels (gray foam) provides 20 % more R-Value inch for inch than our standard EPS (white foam). SIPs are great in locations where construction time is limited due to temperature or snow.

THE COLDER THE TEMPERATURE ….THE BETTER SIP PANELS PERFORM. Due to the properties of the SIP foam core, the R-Value actually INCREASES as the temperature drops.

Panels unloaded and a good section of wall assembled in 1 day.



High Performance Home in Kamloops

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High Performance Home in Kamloops

The collaboration of ICFs and SIPs was able to get a 1.5 ACH50 on this home’s blower door test and an Energize Rating of 87 (Canada’s rating system showing a standard measure of a home’s energy performance).


  • Location:  Kamloops, BC
  • Project Type:  Custom built home, bungalow walkout with basement
  • Size:  2,500 sq. ft.
  • Insulation Materials:  ICFs + SIPS for basement, 6″ SIPS for exterior main floor walls + conventional truss roof system
  • Other materials:  In-floor heating and Heat Recovery Ventilation system for heat and airwesteco_sips-installation2westeco_blower-door-test2

SIPS: Less Waste, Labour & Time

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LESS WASTE, LABOR & TIME. Because SIPS are fabricated specifically for the job in the manufacturing facility and due to the repetitive/simple structure, there was very little waste (both physical & labor/time) associated with the roof structure of the Sewanee Inn and Conference Center project.

The Sewanee Inn and Conference Center project started out as a nail-base project. As the project estimator and SIPS sales discussed options, the Bell & Associates project manager decided that utilizing SIPS would save on labor for the project due to the expanse of roofing needed to be installed.


New Platinum Graphite-Infused Polystyrene (GPS)

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New Platinum Graphite-Infused Polystyrene (GPS)

WEST-ECO introduces the next generation of SIPs made with Insulfoam’s Platinum graphite polystyrene (GPS) insulation. GPS is a class of insulation made with BASF’s Neopor, a rigid foam that integrates graphite into the polymer matrix. The graphite reflects radiant heat energy like a mirror, increasing the material’s resistance to the flow of heat – or R-Value. Testing has shown Platinum cores increase the panel’s overall R-Value by over 20 percent. Platinum core SIPs are used in building enclosures which need stable R-values – which increase as the temperature decreases. In some cases, Platinum panels, with GPS cores, can result in the need for a thinner panel while still meeting energy code requirements. This can also reduce freight costs and the size and thickness of accessories such as fasteners and lumber.

Passive Design is becoming more popular now than ever before in North America. Europe adopted this system of building Ultra Energy Efficient homes several years ago and now Passive Design is more the rule in Europe opposed to the exception.

WEST-ECO has had the privilege of working with the Architects, Energy Consultants, Contractors and Homeowners to create special connection details and designs in order to acheive maximum energy efficient results as well as to supply the pre- cut and ready to assemble SIPS for many Passive House projects this past year.

This project shown consists a beautiful Douglas Fir Timber Frame structure with 12″ EPS SIP walls with 12″ Graphite Polystyrene (GPS) roof panels for maximum R Value. The GPS provides 20% more R Value in the same panel thickness when compared to standard EPS by simply infusing Graphite to the standard EPS.
Special connection details were created and adopted by WEST-ECO to insure that this home would be completely air tight with ZERO thermal bridging and free of any penetrations through the SIP Panels.
SIP Panels provide an excellent alternative to conventional stick framing methods for Wall and Roof Assemblies for many types of structures. SIPs always provide a tighter and more energy efficient solution than any other type of wall or roof system while still keeping things SIMPLE to construct and with minimal waste. Typical SIP connection details, while less complicated than those used for Passive Design, still provide zero air infiltration within the splines and panels with very little thermal bridging.


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