Blown away

When manufacturers of SIPs panels claim they’re environmentally friendly, their words are not just “blowin’ in the wind.”

The Puget Sound Energy Wild Horse Wind Facility in Kittatas County, Wash., recently began harvesting the wind using 127 giant turbines.

The mega-structures, each more than 350 feet from base to top of turbine, are capable of producing 230 megawatts of affordable, pollution-free electricity. That’s enough to supply power to more than 55,000 homes in the Pacific Northwest.

Practicing what it’s preaching, the wind farm constructed a visitor/education center on the property to teach about wind energy. The building itself, called Puget Sound Energy Renewable Energy Center, is a conversation piece constructed of structural insulated panels from Premier Building Systems. The 58-foot octagon structure features an entryway, 40×50-foot classroom, kitchen and bathroom build entirely of SIPs over a timber frame.

Visitors to the center get a lesson on the benefits of the wind farm and learn about energy, according to a press release from Premier. Choosing SIPs for the building is not only forward-looking, it contributes to saving the energy being harnessed by the towers that dot the wide expanse of land visible from the building’s 360-degree view. The building is warmed by floor heat that uses electricity created by the wind turbines.

The generous use of glass shows how creative one can be using SIPs construction. The panels came manufactured with all the window openings in place.

Premier SIPS help lower a building owner’s utility costs by up to 60 percent while reducing the size of the HVAC equipment by up to 40 percent. The reduction in energy use helps lower the amount of pollution given off by the HVAC system and saves valuable resources, including the energy being created by the towers outside.

Premier SIPS oriented strand board panels are made of fast-growing species harvested specifically for OSB production. In the manufacture of OSB, virtually the entire tree is used, thereby minimizing waste.

That’s especially important, especially in this structure, built primarily to demonstrate the future is all about energy. The project, completed in September 2007, was part of the Central Washington Home Builders Tour of Homes.

The Premier Building Systems SIPs panels used to build the visitor center offer a 55 percent higher efficiency than traditional 2×6, R-19 construction, the company says.

Panels consist of a layer of expanded polystyrene insulation (EPS) sandwiched between two layers of oriented strand board and create a virtually air-tight building envelope.

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