What Are Structural Insulated Panels?
Perhaps the simplest answer to the question ‘What are SIPs?’ is: “innovative, cost effective and environmentally friendly insulation panels”.
Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) symbolise a radical change in building design and technology. With environmental issues likely to dominate all our lives for the foreseeable future, the building industry is adapting new technologies to develop a brand new type of energy efficient and environmentally friendly housing.
Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) will be at the forefront of this radical change in building design and technology.
SIPs are a building system that speeds up the construction process as well giving us homes that are designed for 21st century living. With their unique insulating properties, SIPs bring a number of major benefits to the construction process and can dramatically increase the heat retention of buildings.
How can SIPs increase living space?
Instead of a traditional trussed rafter roof with bulky glass wool insulation above the ceiling, SIPs can be used to construct the roof itself (they are typically sat on a ridge and purlins). When an additional floor is fitted, this can create a very clean roof space, freeing up valuable extra living accommodation.
SIPs technology is regarded by many influential figures as the future of the UK construction industry. It offers versatility and can be used in a wide variety of builds. SIPs tick all the boxes for 21st century living and offer a huge range of advantages throughout the building process. And the best bit is that buildings using SIPs really won’t cost the earth… in more ways than one.
What are the environmental benefits of SIPs?
Housing currently contributes to 27% of Britain’s carbon dioxide emissions. However, the insulating properties of SIPs have now made it possible to build cost-effective, zero carbon homes and buildings that are ready for the future.
SIPs are one of the most ecologically friendly building materials on the market. They can help homeowners to dramatically reduce their heating bills and significantly increase available living space in the build.
High performance structural insulated panels
The Kingspan TEK Building System comprises 142 mm or 172 mm thick structural insulated panels (SIPs) with a high performance fibre-free rigid urethane insulation core, sandwiched between two layers of Oriented Strand Board type 3 (OSB/3).
It is used to construct walls and roofs, and intermediate floors using I-beams or open web joists.
|Thermal conductivity||Insulation core: 0.024 W/m·K
OSB/3 facings: 0.13 W/m·K
|Facings||15 mm Oriented Strand Board type 3 (OSB/3)|
|Core||High performance fibre-free rigid urethane insulation manufactured with a blowing agent that has zero Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP)|
|Size of panels||Width: 1,220 mm
Length: Up to 7.5 m
Depth: 142 mm / 172 mm
Note that panels can fabricated down to a minimum of 200 mm x 200 mm to fit the design of the building.
The Kingspan TEK® Building System
The Kingspan TEK® Building System comprises 142 mm or
172 mm thick structural insulated panels (SIPs) connected with a
unique jointing system for walls and roofs, and intermediate floors
using I–beams or open web joists.
Kingspan TEK® Building System panels consist of a high
performance fibre–free rigid urethane insulation core, sandwiched
between two layers of Oriented
Strand Board type 3 (OSB/3). During
manufacture, the insulation core of
Kingspan TEK® Building System panels is
autohesively bonded to the OSB/3 facings. This process provides
more reliable and superior adhesion than the secondary bonding
process used in the manufacture of most other SIPS.
Kingspan TEK® Building System panels are a structural
composite. This composite assembly provides stiffness, strength
and predictable responses to applied loads.
The Kingspan TEK® Building System is recognised by major
building warranty providers such as NHBC, Building Life Plans,
Premier, Build Zone Homebond and HAPM.
The Kingspan TEK® Building System’s use is covered by LABC
Registered Details Certificate No. EWWS546.
The Kingspan TEK® Building System comprising 142 mm thick
panels holds BBA and NSAI Agrément certification.
For more details on certification for 172 mm thick panels, please
contact the Kingspan Insulation Technical Service Department
The Kingspan TEK® Building System leaves ample scope for
individual design. The panels are pre–cut to match a project’s
engineering and design specifications, and a complete kit is
delivered to site ready for erection.
The Kingspan TEK® Building System can be used to create
the walls (loadbearing and non–loadbearing) and roofs of a
The Kingspan TEK® Building System can be erected on any
ground floor construction, however the foundations must have
specific tolerances as per guidance available from the Kingspan
Insulation Technical Service Department (see rear cover).
The Kingspan TEK® Building System can be used to create
buildings up to 4 storeys. The panels are lightweight compared
with brick and block, at a maximum of 24 kg/m2 (excluding any
additional timber), therefore they are ideal for use where heavy
constructions are not possible.
As with all construction methods, including traditional masonry,
a long lasting external weather proofing is also a necessary
part of walls and roofs constructed using the Kingspan TEK®
The performance characteristics of buildings constructed from
the Kingspan TEK® Building System quoted in this document
are predicated on its use as a full System i.e. incorporating
walls and roof built with Kingspan TEK® Building System panels.
Kingspan TEK® Building System roof and wall elements can be
used individually with other non–Kingspan TEK® Building System
components. For example Kingspan TEK® Building System panels
can be used as a wall system in conjunction with a timber rafter
roof. For further guidance on the performance characteristics of
Kingspan TEK® Building System panels used in conjunction with
other construction components please contact the Kingspan
Insulation Technical Services Department (see rear cover).
NB: The System is not recommended for cellars or basement
constructions or for use in high humidity environments.
When building a wall to achieve a U–value of 0.17 W/m2.K using
the Kingspan TEK® Building System, the structure can be just
275.5 mm thick1. In comparison, a timber frame wall to achieve
the same U–value may have to be 450.3 mm thick2, and a full fill
masonry cavity wall to achieve the same U–value may have to
have a wall 433.0 mm thick3.
This means that the Kingspan TEK® Building System can provide
more floor space for the same external dimensions. In the case
of a two storey house, with external dimensions 10 x 8 m, the
Kingspan TEK® Building System can yield 11.6 m2* more useable
floor space than a house built with timber frame walls, and
10.5 m2* more useable floor space than a house built with
masonry full fill cavity walls, assuming the wall constructions
detailed above and below.
1 Kingspan TEK® Building System Wall = 27.5 mm brick slip / bedding
compound, 10 mm calcium silicate board, 25 mm deep batten, 0.5
mm Kingspan nilvent® breathable membrane, 172 mm Kingspan TEK®
panel, 25 mm deep batten, 12.5 mm plasterboard, 3 mm skim.
2 Timber Frame Wall = 102.5 mm brick, 50 mm cavity, 0.3 mm foil faced
breather membrane, 12 mm OSB, 270 mm glass mineral fibre quilt
(0.040 W/m.K) between 270 mm deep studs, 12.5 mm vapour check
plasterboard, 3 mm skim.
3 Masonry Full Fill Cavity Wall = 102.5 mm brick, 200 mm rock mineral
fibre full fill (0.036 W/m.K), 100 mm dense block, 15 mm dab cavity,
12.5 mm plasterboard on dabs, 3 mm skim.
*Internal floor area of each construction is rounded to one decimal place.
The first step in minimising the CO2 emissions of a building is to
reduce its space heating demand. The most effective way to reduce
the space heating demand of a building is to improve the performance
of its envelope by specifying low U–values, low air permeability and by
avoiding significant thermal bridging wherever possible.
The Kingspan TEK® Building System comprising 142 mm thick
panels can achieve whole wall and roof U–values of 0.20 W/m2.K
or better with no additional insulation. The Kingspan TEK®
Building System comprising 172 mm thick panels can achieve
whole wall and roof U–values of 0.17 W/m2.K or better with no
additional insulation. Extremely low U–values, e.g. 0.10 W/m2.K,
can easily be achieved with the addition of an insulated lining, e.g.
Kingspan Thermawall® TW55, on the inside of the Kingspan TEK®
Building System panels.
In addition to the excellent U–values that can be achieved by walls
and roofs constructed using the Kingspan TEK® Building System,
the closed cell structure of the rigid urethane insulation core of the
panels does not allow movement of air within them. The insulation
will not sag or physically deteriorate over time, as may be the case
with other insulating materials.
The Kingspan TEK® Building System’s proprietary jointing system
can create a very air–tight structure. Air leakage levels can be
as good as 0.08 air changes per hour at normal pressures
(approximately 1 m3/hour/m2 at 50 Pa).
Repeating thermal bridges occur where a material with a
significantly worse thermal conductivity interrupts the insulation
layer in a construction. U–value calculations for conventional
timber frame systems take into account the effects of repeating
thermal bridges, i.e. timber studs etc. The insulation layer in the
Kingspan TEK® Building System is not interrupted by repeating
studwork. Therefore, there is less repeating thermal bridging.
There are, however, some thermal bridges, e.g. where timbers
are used to support point loads etc.
The overall result is that the Kingspan TEK® Building System
only has 4% thermal bridging from timber elements for a typical
domestic building wall and 1% thermal bridging from timber
elements for a typical domestic building roof.
Linear thermal bridges occur at junctions, e.g. wall to floor
interface, and openings, e.g. windows, in the building fabric, and
are expressed as psi (y) values. y–values are an important factor
in the calculation methodologies used to assess the operational
CO2 emissions of buildings. The Kingspan TEK® Building System
achieves very good y–values, due to the continuity of insulation at
junctions and openings inherent in the System’s design.
Kingspan Insulation has had a number of the junctions detailed in
the Kingspan TEK® Building System Standard Details Handbook
modelled and y–values calculated for them. The Kingspan TEK®
Building System set of junction details can assist significantly
in achieving Building Regulations compliance. For further
information, please contact the Kingspan Insulation Technical
Green Guide Ratings.
2008 BRE Green Guide Summary Ratings, for walls and roofs
constructed using generic Kingspan TEK®–type SIPs, as a result of
the comparatively low environmental impact of the SIPs, are heavily
influenced by the external cladding specification. Wall and roof
elements, constructed using the Kingspan TEK® Building System,
correspond to generic elements, described in the 2008 BRE Global
Green Guide, which achieve Summary Ratings of A+ or A.
The environmental impact of the insulation core of Kingspan
TEK®–type SIPs is incorporated into the generic elemental Green
Guide Summary Ratings of the walls and roofs of which the
panels form the basis, because it provides a significant structural
function. Therefore, the Green Guide Summary Rating of the
insulation core of Kingspan TEK®–type SIPs can be taken as
being A+ for the purposes of BREEAM.
NB: 2008 BRE Green Guide Summary Ratings constructed using generic
Kingspan TEK®–type SIPs are only currently available for 142 mm thick
panels. For more details please contact the Kingspan Insulation Technical