Extra Buffer EnergyMax panels separate exterior walls from interior sheetrock.
Courtesy Supreme Energy Products Extra Buffer EnergyMax panels separate exterior walls from interior sheetrock.

Four years ago, Minnesota contractors Tadd Johnson and Adam Hegland were building a condominium project and couldn’t achieve the blower-door test results they were looking for.

That got them thinking about a new exterior thermal transfer system. They’d worked with structural insulated panels and insulated concrete forms, but “we’re framing guys,” says Johnson, and preferred something closer to their expertise.

What they came up with was the Energy Max Panel and Installation System, 4x8-foot insulated sheets made from expanded polystyrene, a material not generally used in residential construction. That’s according to Duane Whitney, president of Styrotech, a Brooklyn Park, Minn.–based manufacturer that is producing the panels for Supreme Energy Products, a Lakeville, Minn.–based company Johnson and Hegland started recently to distribute their panels.

Energy Max isn’t cheap: about $85 per panel. But it’s cost effective, Johnson explains, because the installation system allows contractors to dispense with vapor barriers and housewrap, and replaces fiberglass or spray-foam insulation. Siding can be attached to the panels with wood battens hung flush to the polystyrene. (The product can also be ordered for stucco, as well as for interior floors and ceilings.) The exterior siding and panels are connected to studs with 6 ½-inch screws.

Supreme Energy claims its system creates a continuous R-value of 18.8, including around windows, and reduces a homeowner’s heating and cooling costs by up to 70 percent per year. The company has applied to get its product approved by the International Code Council, and Johnson and Hegland were developing a list of qualified installers. The partners hope to generate up to $2 million through the private-placement sale of two million shares of stock. If successful, Johnson projects Supreme Energy could be profitable in two years.