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What is a SIP’S Eco Panel?

Eco Tiny builds with SIPs Eco panels. Eco panels called have been used for 30+ years extensively in the US, Europe and Canada and are starting to take off in New Zealand. The benefits of this building material far outweigh traditional building materials that when you analyze has 8 layers of cost & complexity and with leaky buildings and a chronic shortage of qualified trades people. Eco panel is the faster, stronger and more reliable way going forward.

SIPs are high performance thermally efficient composite panels which consist of a sandwich of two layers of New Zealand colour steel with an insulating layer of super insulated foam in between for walls, roofs and floors in new residential and commercial buildings.

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) have become a widely used construction material for homes and other buildings. While many types of Composite Panel building systems have been developed, SIPs Eco panel now usually refers to panels made from a thick layer of foam (polystyrene or polyurethane) sandwiched between two layers of Colour steel. The result is an engineered panel that provides structural framing, insulation, and exterior sheathing in a solid, one-piece component.

The basic design concept for SIP’S panels is elegant in its simplicity and offers several advantages for constructing walls and roofs. Bonding the foam core to the stiff outer skins creates a web-and-flange structural strength (along the same principal as an I-beam) across the length and breadth of the panel. With the capacity to handle axial, bending, racking, and shear loads, properly designed and assembled SIP’s panels not only replace conventional framing, but will withstand high wind and seismic forces. So what are the benefits?

Energy Efficiency

SIP’S Eco panels combine superior insulation with near-zero air leakage to maximize the performance of the building envelope and allow HVAC systems to operate more effectively. You also get:

  • Reduced energy consumption
  • Lower energy bills
  • Up to 90 percent less air leakage than stick-framed structures
  • No thermal bridging or convection looping


SIP’S Eco panels help improve structural strength for resistance to natural disasters. You also get:

  • Structural characteristics similar to a steel I-Beam.
  • Superior structural stability with stiffness, strength, and predictable performance.
  • Lower maintenance requirements.


There’s nothing quite like that smug feeling that you’re doing your bit, SIP’S Eco panels are a welcome relief to our environment, having an estimated reduction in the level of Carbon emissions of 9.9 x over the life of the building when compared to traditional methods.

Key contributors to the superior performance of SIP’S panels in this area  include:

  • Reduced heating and cooling loads over lifetime of home
  • High R-value
  • Low air leakage rate
  • Low environmental impact of materials
  • Low maintenance requirements
  • Lightweight materials reduce transportation

Design Freedom

Complex designs makes it simple with SIP Eco panels. The manufacturing process means that no design element is too hard to accomplish. You also get:

  • Ability to cut almost any shape
  • Open and airy feel with no need for false ceilings
  • Ability to maximize  space


SIP’S Eco panels are engineered in a controlled factory environment meaning precision home building is now a reality for builders. Easy to build with, fast to erect and with less wastage on site, SIP’S panels put the satisfaction back into a job well done for builders.

Basics of SIP Design

SIPs can be used for walls and roofs and floors.

In a wall they replace the framework, plywood bracing and insulation batts. In all aspects the simple panel has superior performance than the combination of those different elements making up a conventional wall. Higher insulation performance, greater strength, faster installation, increased air-tightness and superior environmental sustainability. The SIP R value is a field value, not a laboratory “ideal scenario” value; and with no batt slumping possible a SIP wall maintains it’s high insulation values years after it was first installed.

For a roof the SIPs presents a new possibility – an insulated roof. Traditional roofs are not insulated, meaning very little consideration typically goes into the use of the space created by the pitch of the roof. With conventional construction methods the insulation is typically at the ceiling layer the space directly above at the mercy of the temperature inside the ceiling space. In a hot day the ceiling space can become extremely hot, and similarly very cold on a cold day. With SIPs providing an insulated roof the effective use of the ceiling space opens up new possibilities for designers. One angle on that feature is the freedom to design large open living areas with cathedral ceilings creating a sense of space, with no penalty on insulation and energy efficiency.

SIPs span great distances unsupported making them a good choice for roofs. If additional support is needed a structural spline can be used to join the panels thus increasing the allowable span or loaded dimension.

By simply replacing conventional framing and insulation SIPs are very easy to understand. Interior wall linings are fitted in the same way as conventional framing, weather tightness is achieved by a weather wrap, and cladding is fixed to the SIP in the same way as conventional framing. In terms of build-ability, builders say “it just makes sense”.

Wiring is run inside the panel core, through pre-prepared holes, or chases in the insulation. These holes are created at the factory according to the design provided and would typically be 1 horizontal chase through every panel and multiple vertical chases as required. It is not recommended to run plumbing within the SIP core.

Green Building with SIP’S

Firstly, what exactly is an Eco tiny Green Building?

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 this can be accomplished, 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.

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 over 70% of their time indoors, buildings should create a safe environment for occupants, free from mold, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or other harmful airborne pollutants.

Structural insulated panels (SIPs) are one of the most airtight and well insulated building systems available, making them an inherently green product. An airtight SIP building will use less energy to heat and cool, allow for better control over indoor environmental conditions, and reduce construction waste. 

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