Truth or Fiction?
Sustainable or Greenwashed? Today many companies claim to be green but with a closer look can’t stand up to inspection. We aim to support the truly sustainable companies who integrate green practices as a part of their culture – we hope you do too.
Building with SIPs dramatically improves the carbon footprint of your house.
For an average 3,000 square foot house in Virginia, building with SIPs will eliminate 10,326 lbs. of carbon emissions per year and over 1,000,000 lbs. of carbon emissions over the life of the house. It is the largest improvement for the least amount of investment.
SINCE 2010, ACME Panel has helped build over 500 buildings with SIPs preventing approximately 10,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 215 cars taken off the road every year.
BUT, we are not content to rest there:
Green building is the practice of minimizing the impact a building has on the natural environment. Although there are numerous theories and rating systems proposing how you can accomplish this, they all share several clear goals:
- Reduced Energy Consumption— Energy is in high demand, and the processes used to generate energy often produce carbon dioxide emissions. Decreasing energy and fossil fuel use in buildings is important to prevent large-scale climate change. Learn about energy efficiency here
- Material and Resource Conservation— Green designers and builders select building materials and methods that reduce the amount of natural resources required to construct a building.
- Healthy Indoor Environment— With people spending 90% of their time indoors, buildings should create a safe environment for occupants, free from mold, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other harmful airborne pollutants.
- Water Conservation and pollution prevention— Water-saving systems limit the use of this important natural resource and prevent water pollution that can damage natural ecosystems.
- Site Planning— Careful site and infrastructure development will minimize water and air pollution by reducing runoff reducing equipment use.
Carbon footprint is the measure of the impact our activities have on climate change. A building’s carbon footprint measures the amount of greenhouse gases produced through burning fossil fuels for electricity and heating and the amount of energy needed to produce products. You can also evaluate the footprint of a product through a Life Cycle Analysis, here is an LCA comparing SIPs.
How can you evaluate the carbon footprint of a product? Look at the energy use, the saved energy over time, the energy cost from production of the material, and any prevention/reduction of pollutants.
HERS Ratings – An easy method of evaluating a building is through a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) testing. The lower the HERS score, the more efficient the building. SIP Buildings commonly have HERS below scores below 50 due to high insulation, low infiltration and low thermal bridging – using less than 50% of the average code minimum house to heat and cool.
A comprehensive Life Cycle Analysis performed by EPS Molders, an Independent Company, showed that SIPs were more eco-efficient than ICFs and much more eco-efficient than stick built construction. Structural Insulated Panel houses perform particularly strongest when measured on:
- Energy consumption during operation – using much less
- Resource and material use during building – using much less.
There are many different programs to certify your building. Building with SIPs works well with all of them. However, you do not need a certification to build better. Look for products which provide better efficiency through insulation, energy or water savings like double paned windows, energy star certified appliances, solar panels or low flow toilets.
Achieving certification can be an expensive process. While we believe in supporting the companies providing these measures, we also realize there is a limit to the capital you have. Our recommendation is to try and work towards achieving a sustainable building as measured by one (or multiple) of the following certifications even if you do not plan on having it certified. As the owner of the building your comfort and quality of life are the most important. If you do not pursue a specific certification we recommend evaluating the build quality beforehand with a REScheck and through testing with a blower door test or HERS rating after the building is completed.
- 300 Solar Panels on its roof.
- Shipped from closer distances to the East Coast, Northeast, and South.
- Strips and recycles all waste foam.
- Sustainable Forestry Certified.
- Repurposed abandoned rubber plant with deep clean and energy retrofit.
- Retrofit offices with SIPs to lessen energy use by 60%.
Learn more about Building Green and the types of certifications to use as a standard:
Climate Change is real and it is caused primarily by using too much fossil fuel. Building construction and operation accounts for 36% of global energy use.
The 2018 building codes are required in certain states; see the link here to determine a state building code. The 2018 building codes are more efficient than previous building codes and as more states move to newer building codes stricter air infiltration and insulation will be needed.
Energy Star homes provide a way to rate appliances, windows, lighting and more in order to reduce the overall energy use of a house. A building can be an ‘Energy Star rated’ building which reduces the overall energy output by up to 35%. Additional programs include Indoor airPLUS and EPA WaterSense, which add ways to measure water and indoor air quality.
A multi- attribute certification process which awards points into determining how sustainable a building and site are. There are different tiers and programs certification ranging from cities and neighborhoods to an entire building and even to specific aspects of a building or renovation.
The National Green Building Standard process focuses on site, resource, water, and energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, maintenance and operations. With certifications for remodeling, single family and multi-family use you can narrow the focus down to what best applies to your project. This program is certified through ANSI.
Zero energy ready homes are a measurement provided by the department of energy; these buildings are not net zero, but could achieve net zero with proper green energy implementation. The goal is to use methods to reduce the building energy use by an average of 45% compared to a standard new building. In doing so you are preparing for future investments to eventually achieve a net zero building. This is usually achieved with solar panels, but could also be achieved through wind, geothermal, or other alternative energy sources.
A building system which focuses on the air-tight envelope, positioning for solar gain, and recirculation/ventilation of a home. Planning your building to be a passive house on average achieves a 75% reduction in energy use compared to a standard building. We recommend reviewing the positioning, windows, and overhangs as an easy method of reducing energy efficiency even if you are not attempting a passive house certification.
A net-zero or zero energy building stands for the amount of energy coming into the building balances out with the energy a building generates. This is achieved through increasing the energy efficiency of a building and reducing it’s energy use. An additional step beyond net zero energy is net zero emissions (sometimes called carbon neutral) where a building does not produce emissions or any emissions produced are offset through carbon reductions elsewhere.
The Living Building Challenge implements rigorous requirements, going above and beyond other certification methods to help create buildings with a positive impact. While the difficulty of implementing a Living Building is high, the results provide buildings true to their initial goal as all buildings must operate as intended for 1 year before achieving this certification.
ACME Panel is Proudly Green
We started our company to help reduce carbon emissions in a practical and substantive way.
At ACME, our first major investment were the 300 Solar Panels on the roof of our factory to produce green energy to power our manufacturing. From the beginning and now more than ever, we remain committed to our original purpose and to producing the finest, greenest panels using sustainable practices.
We are a family owned company with a mission to build a sustainable future by reducing our carbon footprint and by helping our customers reduce theirs.
Buy green, build green.
Learn how ACME is taking steps to reduce waste and save energy.