ARCHIVED – CCMC v2n4-5

Volume 2, Number 4, Spring/Summer 1997

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CCMC not yet evaluating structural insulated panels

A recent article on structural insulated panels (Construction Innovation, Summer 1996) resulted in a number of queries that require clarification. To begin with, even though the title of the article was "Structural insulated panels being evaluated by CCMC," this was not, in fact, the case. While it is CCMC's desire to conduct such evaluations, to date, it has no contractual arrangements to do so.

CCMC has been trying to create a consortium of manufacturers and other interested parties to share the cost of defining the parameters that could have an impact on the long-term performance of structural insulated panels. These parameters would then serve as the basis for the development of a Technical Guide that incorporates a test protocol for establishing the long-term capacity and durability of the panels.

It should be pointed out that there are no specific instances of failure that have led CCMC to address this issue. In fact, the concept of structural insulated panels (which rely on the composite action of external facers glued to a foamed plastic core) has existed for many years throughout North America. There are a variety of designs and assembly techniques used in various geographical and climatic situations that appear to have performed well and that are accepted by architects, contractors and building officials, both in Canada and in the United States. However, CCMC cannot determine the technical basis upon which the apparent long-term performance of these structural insulated panels has been assessed - to date there is mainly anecdotal information and little scientific data. CCMC's task, therefore, is to establish evaluation requirements that can be applied in a generic fashion to both existing and new assemblies.

Currently, the terminology used to refer to this type of construction is inconsistent. The term "stressed skin panels" is sometimes used to include what CCMC refers to as "structural insulated panels" (those that rely on the foam core) and at other times it is used to describe only those panels that incorporate some additional structural components. CCMC would like to clarify the situation for Canada's structural design community by making the distinction between those panels that rely on additional structural components and those that do not.

For further information, please contact Mr. Bruno Di Lenardo at (613) 993-7769, fax (613) 952-0268, or e-mail bruno.di_lenardo@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca