Green Gingerbread Houses: Building with SIPs

| 12/23/2009 1:27:00 PM

A couple of Saturdays ago, some of the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff got together to build “gingerbread” houses. Because we’re an eco-friendly bunch, we decided to make them green homes. Here’s a look at the structural insulated panel (SIPs) house built by myself and fellow Mother-Earther Aubrey Vaughn. (For more green gingerbread fun, you can read about the strawbale house two other editors built, and find more photos of our gingerbread houses in this Green Gingerbread Photo Gallery.)


Gingerbread SIPS panels 
Building the SIPs house 
Completed Gingerbread SIPs House 

OK, so maybe we got a little carried away with the green theme, because the — literally — green frosting is a bit out of control (see photos at left). It’s all supposed to represent grass and hedges (the yard is surrounded by Rice Krispies treats covered with frosting). 

But in that blindingly green mass of sugar, don’t miss the other ecologically — green features of this house. It’s designed with SIPs, a living roof, and of course, a solar-electric system. Here are all the details:

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs):The ingredients: Two graham crackers stuck together with frosting to form each panel.
Why it’s green: Building with SIPs creates very energy-efficient homes. Real SIPs are made of a layer of foam board insulation between two layers of oriented strand board (OSB). Because it’s all manufactured as one piece, these panels are structurally strong, provide a high level of insulation and they’re resource efficient, too. Very little material is wasted during manufacturing and construction.
More info on the real thing: Innovative Insulated Panels 

Living roof:The ingredients: Oreos (dirt) plus green coconut (grass)
Why it’s green: Provides additional growing space, vegetation provides insulation and cooling effect in summer.
More info on the real thing: Earth-sheltered Homes (This article includes a section about living roofs, as well as photos.)

Sara Mason
12/31/2009 10:49:14 AM

I love this! What a great project this would be for school aged children to get them interested in being green.

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