Learn about the first manufactured home built from energy-saving materials.
Although foam core paneling has been around for years, the
Department of Energy (DOE) recently teamed up with Champion
Enterprises to construct the first manufactured home built
from energy-saving materials. The building
material is manufactured by sandwiching recycled
polystyrene foam between two layers of oriented strand
board (OSB), applying heat and pressure, then cutting them
to any size needed. The panels are highly insulated and
"The reason why it works better than two by fours or stick
framing is because there are very few seams and gaps in the
walls compared to stick framing," explains Michael Lamb,
certified energy manager at the Energy Efficiency and
Renewable Energy Clearinghouse, a division of the DOE.
In stick-frame houses, Lamb explains, air can blow into the
wall cavities, whereas with Structural Insulated Panels
(SIPs) — another name for foam core panels — there are
fewer seams and leaks, and the insulation quality of the
wall is very uniform. Lamb also points out that while SIP
construction is slightly more costly to produce than
traditional construction — prices range from $2.50 to $4
per square foot — homebuilders can balance out building
costs by saving on labor and energy bills.
The advantages to foam panels are attracting builders such
as Hart Housing and FischerSIPs, Inc., which sell SIP houses.