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Cityscape: Volume 11 Number 2 | Chapter 6


Regulatory Innovation and Affordable Housing

Volume 11 Number 2

Structural Insulated Panels: An Alternative to Wood Frame Construction

Mike Blanford

Industrial Revolution

Every home makes compromises among different and often competing goals: comfort, convenience, durability, energy consumption, maintenance, construction costs, appearance, strength, community acceptance, and resale value. Often consumers and developers making the tradeoffs among these goals do so with incomplete information, increasing the risks and slowing the adoption of innovative products and processes. This slow diffusion negatively affects productivity, quality, performance, and value. This department of Cityscape presents, in graphic form, a few promising technological improvements to the U.S. housing stock. If you have an idea for a future department feature, please send your diagram or photograph, along with a few, well-chosen words, to

This article reflects the views of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


For years, the status quo for the construction of a single-family home has been wood frame construction, commonly called "stick framing" because of the dominant use of 2 by 4 lumber. Wood frame construction has served the homebuilding community well, but alternatives are beginning to capture market share. One alternative, structural insulated panels, provides energy efficiency and structural strength advantages over conventional wood frame construction.


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