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Construction Begins on Record Setting SIP Project

July 31, 2007 – Structural Insulated Panel Association member Panelwrights, LLC, is preparing to install structural insulated panels (SIPs) on what will be the largest SIP building ever constructed in the U.S.  Panelwrights, a W.Va based SIP distributor and installer, will be installing SIPs on a 494,224 sq. ft. school in the Eastern Band Cherokee Indian Nation in Cherokee, N.C.  The architect of record for the project is Padgett and Freeman Architects, PA, Asheville, N.C. The General Contractor of the project is BE&K Building Group of Greenville, S.C.

The school will handle kindergarten through 12th graders in 16 separate “pods,” or separate structures with walkways.  Fourteen of the buildings use 8¼-inch SIPs for exterior walls and all sixteen buildings use 10 ¼ -inch SIPs for roofs, creating an energy efficient building envelope.  A total of 376,000 sq. ft. of SIPs will be used on the project.

SIPs will be installed over the building's structural steel frame

 

A growing body of recent research is focused on building high performance schools that save energy and provide an environment conducive to learning.  In addition to reducing the energy use of the schools, an airtight SIP building envelope allows for better control of indoor air quality—creating a healthy environment for students. 

Panelwrights Project Manager Wayne Hess said that SIPs were chosen for the school based on their green building characteristics and the project architects were aiming for silver certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

In addition to producing a high performance building, Hess says that SIPs will reduce the building’s overall construction time.  “The panels are large and go into place quickly,” Hess said.  “A small, well trained crew can cover a lot of space in a day.”

The Panelwrights crews will be installing prefabricated jumbo panels as large as 8’ x 24’ over the building’s structural steel frame.  In place of a drop ceiling, all HVAC, sprinkler systems and lighting will be installed directly to an exposed SIP ceiling.  All electrical wiring, including data lines, will be run through the exterior SIP walls using precut channels called “chases.”  Although Hess says this is unusual, it demonstrates the flexibility of structural insulated panels in accommodating various mechanical and electrical schemes.

The SIP installation is scheduled to be completed in May of 2008 with an overall completion date of May 2009.

 
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