It’s been nearly two years since that monster storm destroyed 95 percent of Greensburg, Kans., and left 1,500 people homeless.
Michael Morley, COO of Lawrence, KS-based SIPsmart, was part of the first wave of builders and agencies to lend their services to rebuild Greensburg. Morley represented SIPA at a FEMA sponsored housing resource fair in July of 2007. At the time, Morley was one of dozens of companies, associations and agencies advocating the use of advanced building technologies to rebuild the town with sustainable construction practices. A city ordinance was passed requiring that all publicly funded projects meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s rigorous LEED Platinum standard.
Morley was soon contacted by a Greensburg couple interested in building a green home. The family of four had lost their home and two businesses to tornado damage. They wanted their new home to be highly wind resistant and energy efficient, and they were considering a geodesic dome because of its inherent strength against high winds.
SIPsmart specializes in geodesic domes made with their patent pending Architecture Resistant to Climatic eXtremes or ARCX™ building system. ARCX takes the intrinsic strength of the dome shape and pairs it with the strength and energy efficiency of structural insulated panels.
After five years of research and development, Morley created a system that minimizes fabrication waste and the use of dimensional lumber, making ARCX one of the most resource-efficient building systems available.
Morley designed a custom home with two semispherical domes adorning each side of a central rectilinear structure. The three-story, 3,100 sq. ft. home has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a home office, as well as a walk-out basement made with SIP foundation panels from Extreme Panel Technologies. Six-inch SIP walls and a 10 in. SIP roof were used for the central portion of the building Sure Tight Insulated Panel Corp. provided the custom cut 8 in. SIPs for the dome halves.
Keeping construction costs down is important for the residents of Greensburg, where the average home price is only $53,800. By saving labor and material costs with SIPs and the ARCX system, the homeowners were able to afford many other green features such as Energy Star appliances, a tankless on-demand hot water heater, and a high efficiency air source heat pump for heating and cooling.
The homeowners were recently pictured in the March 2009 issue of National Geographic, holding a SIP sample in front of their home. Greensburg has received a lot of publicity for its green rebuilding efforts, but Morley insists that cost is a limiting factor for many residents.