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Testing the seismic performance of structural insulated panels

BRANZ senior structural engineer David Carradine is leading testing to understand how buildings braced with structural insulated panels (SIPs) would perform in an earthquake.

New Zealand has an urgent need for quality housing that can be built quickly and affordably.  SIPs, which can be prefabricated and assembled quickly on site for walls, floors and roofs, are one potential solution which could be used to increase construction speed and reduce overall building cost. SIPs have been used successfully throughout Europe and North America for several decades but are less well known in New Zealand.

Can structural insulated panel walls handle NZ quake loadings?

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Under the New Zealand Building Code, SIPs are currently considered to be an “alternative solution”. This means that before a home using SIPs can be consented, the owner must get an engineer’s assessment which can be expensive and time consuming.

The BRANZ project is analysing how SIPs perform when subjected to New Zealand’s climate, earthquakes and in the event of fire. One outcome of this project will be to understand how SIPs can be evaluated within the existing Building Code framework to enable a more straightforward evaluation of Code compliance.