The first of the Department’s two Innovative Housing Projects using Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) was completed in late September in Nollamara. The development comprises four one-bedroom units for singles.
SIPs construction is widely used in the United States but a relatively new product to Australia. The Department's Director of Built Form and Civil Construction, Will Carroll said the SIPs projects have allowed the Department to take an innovative approach to future construction activity.
“The SIPs pilot projects have allowed us to focus on innovation and to trial a method that has potential significant benefits over conventional construction,” Mr Carroll said.
“Although there were a few challenges along the way, the projects have shown us that this method could be a way forward for a more sustainable, cost-effective housing alternative.
“SIPs are just one of the innovative methods we are exploring to ensure better outcomes for the Department’s construction activities in the long run.”
The SIPs projects arose from the Department's Alternative Housing Solution Program, which focused on construction solutions with proven and enhanced properties in product performance, quality, build time, and cost benefits.
Project Manager for the SIPs projects, Lesley Richardson, said collaboration with and support from industry was an important aspect of overcoming challenges.
“The limited use of SIPs systems in Australia resulted in some complex issues which had to be addressed during the construction and planning period,” Ms Richardson said.
“One of the major issues was the limited availability of off-shelf products that were compatible for use with the systems, such as roof cladding and window frames. We needed some creative thinking and the strong involvement of product manufacturers to find suitable solutions.
“Support from the industry in this regard has been fantastic and the motivation from manufacturers to get on board with the SIPs system has been very encouraging.”
The highly insulative SIPs development is 10 times more energy efficient than traditionally built dwellings and boasts a seven-star rating.
The pilot SIPs projects have enabled the Department to showcase the system to interested parties. It is hoped that a plant will be built in New South Wales to manufacture the panels.
“With time, the availability of SIP’s compatible products will increase and industry will be more on board with this system and the benefits it offers.”