Caribbean affordable housing project succeeds with SIPs

Caribbean affordable housing project succeeds with SIPs

St. Croix Sugar Mills Villas - Photos courtesy of SIPA

An affordable housing project in the Caribbean relied on innovative SIPs to meet the demands of the project and local building conditions.

Innova Eco Building System received the 2016 SIPA Building Excellence Award Winner for Affordable Housing at the 14th Annual Structural Insulated Panel Association (SIPA) Building Excellence Awards in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The projects were scored on four criteria including how the use of structural insulated panels (SIPs) resulted in quantifiable energy efficiency; design and structural engineering innovation; creative use of SIP construction; and overall environmental sustainability.

The winning submission in the Affordable Housing category is the St. Croix Sugar Mills Villas project for the Housing Authority, 34 homes and club house project, submitted by Innova Eco Building System, manufactures of the Innovative Magnesium Oxide SIPs (MGO) system which is at the heart of the project’s success. The project was Constructed by Burke Construction Group.

Due to the hot humid, hurricane prone climate of St. Croix, the developer was looking for a low-maintenance, durable and mold resistant alternative to typical construction. Additionally, since the cost of electricity on the island was high, he was also interested in a construction method that would reduce energy demand. The perfect solution to his problem was Innova Magnesium Oxide SIPs (MGO).

SIPs, used to build high-performance building systems for residential and light commercial construction, are panels consisting of an insulating foam core sandwiched between two structural facings, typically oriented strand board (OSB). Innova Magnesium Oxide SIPs (MGO) are the next generation of SIPs, having a superior fire rating to traditional fiber cement and OSB SIPs. They are impermeable to water and used below grade and in areas where moisture management and mold mitigation are key considerations.

Furthermore, MGO SIPs are tough and hurricane resistant — making them an ideal building system for the St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Island climate zone.

MGO SIPs also eliminate the need for drywall and additional exterior finishing, further reducing the time and cost of construction of interior, exterior walls and roof panels. A liquid applied roofing system by Sherwin Williams was applied directly to the MGO roof panels. The resulting buildings are durable, healthy and comfortable. In fact, when summer temperatures soar into the 90s, these interior living spaces remain comfortably 15 to 20 degrees lower. The homes utilizing solar hot water and a solar PV system actually produce more power than they use.

“We look forward to sharing this project with builders as we continue our path toward mainstreaming energy efficient SIP construction across the world,” said SIPA Executive Director, Jack Armstrong.

For a more complete case study or to learn more about SIPs, please visit

Topics: Building Green, Energy Audits, Foundations, Going Green, Home Design & Plans, Insulation, Thermal Envelope

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