Now that we’ve set our benchmark on the lean, rich and sexy level, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. In previous blogs, I discussed IKEA construction and air tightening. Let’s now take a look at a particular design and construction issue at the intersection of two well known “engineered” technologies and see how we might approach a solution.
ICF walls and SIPs. The hope was that a better connection system would be developed. A year or so later, the results were published as a PATH Initiative, essentially a catalogue of design details which were already used in the industry at the time, albeit vetted for structural and wind resistance.
While the attention and funding offered by HUD was commendable, I’m not convinced there were any really good solutions offered in this document. You see, if these connection assemblies worked so well, than there would be more positive reports from the field. But at that same time interval, I interviewed many builders who had tried the ICF / SIPS combo, and all spoke of struggles with that particular connection point.
So I’m tossing out a challenge. Can we take inspiration from the lock-tight mechanisms common in IKEA furniture, or the interlocking “snap in place” features common in manufactured goods? Is there a pair of brackets which could be installed independently on the ICF wall, and the SIPS panel which would allow the panel to sit, or catch on the wall to hold it in place while bolts lock it in?
And to up the ante, can we get a connection which has both positive structural connection, an airtight finish and no discontinuity of the insulation? And for those with cementitious skin SIPS – do all this – with no wood studs as splines, in order to maintain the fire rating. Besides, wood studs have been the bane of SIPS roofs, especially where moisture has migrated up into the peak of the roof.
And while I really don’t expect a solution on my desk by this evening, I do wish to point out that these are the very pieces that we are missing in our “green building” puzzle. I think the solutions will likely not come from manufacturers, or research centers, but perhaps sponsored industry groups including industrial designers, a few experienced and creative contractors, a building scientist and perhaps a structural engineer. That, and a few cases of beer.