One of the many things that makes a timber frame home appealing to the modern homeowner is the sustainability and energy efficiency that timber framing affords. Green building practices and the use of structural insulated panels (SIPs) offer maximum energy efficiency and added strength by providing a tight building envelope that works well with timber frame materials.
Mid-Atlantic Timberframes, located in Paradise, Penn., utilizes SIPs for the walls and roofs of its timber frame homes. “A SIPs panel is a structural insulated panel that consists of three to six inches of polyurethane foam insulation sandwiched between a half inch of oriented strand board (OSB) on either side,” explains Sam Ebersol, general manager of Mid-Atlantic Timberframes. “This creates a rigid wall panel that is as strong as—or stronger than—a conventionally framed wall, and creates a sealed envelope around the frame. Conventionally framed walls generally have two-by-six studs positioned at 16-inch intervals, and each stud creates a thermal break in the consistency of the insulation.”
“In addition to securing our timber from well-managed forests, we use passive design techniques to take advantage of the natural climate in order to maintain thermal comfort,” Ebersol says.
What does this mean for the home and homeowner? A timber frame that is well designed and built, and that utilizes SIPs, allows a home to contain the inside conditioned air, and reduces air infiltration. This ultimately results in less heating and cooling consumption, lower energy costs, and comfort for the inhabitants inside.
SIPs materials and construction are typically more expensive than conventional materials and methods, depending upon the complexity of the design, but don’t let the initial cost scare you away. There are real savings in the labor and construction waste volume, which makes the building process more cost-effective. Timber frame builders who use SIPs pass on savings to homeowners through reduced installation time, less waste, flexible design, and faster construction time frames.
Timber frame homes really embody what it means to build with energy efficiency in mind. With the ability to incorporate SIPs, strength and sustainability add to the overall long-term quality of timber frame construction. By requiring little maintenance, and being built using sustainable practices, timber frame homes maintain their status of being an environmentally-friendly choice.