Cement & Foam Panels

The more lengthy, more precise name for this exciting innovation is “structural cement insulated panel” or “SCIP.” If you are interested in green building, this is a concept that looks to have a bright future.


Structural cement insulated panels, note
interior struts for extraordinary unit strength.
(Photo: Studio RMA)

We learned about SCIP technology from Herman Blanke, a Los Angeles based expert on green technology who attended the AlwaysOn “GoingGreen” event. For an example of this technology in use today, Blanke recommended Studio RMA, based in Dusseldorf, Germany.


On Studio RMA’s website, their “What is a SCIP Building” page provides a pretty good description of how it works, and the synergies are obvious. Basically a SCIP wall has a thin exterior of cement, interlaced with a strong mesh of steel. In between these cement exteriors is a thick foam center. And throughout the foam, connecting the cement sides to each other internally, is a series of strong steel diagonals that tie the exterior concrete skins on each side together, yielding an extremely strong panel.

Structural cement insulated panels are so strong they can be used as roofing material or walls without any additional structural support. They constitute a modular building panel that performs the function of exterior stucco, plywood siding, 2×4 wood (or steel) studs, and insulation, in one integrated panels. They are so strong the framing requirements of a building can be partly fulfilled simply by using these panels. They have incredible insulation values, they last virtually forever, and they cost less.

Another variation on the SCIP technology can be found on the SIPCRETE website. Located in Turvey Beds, England, SIPCRETE has taken SCIP technology a step further, where they manufacture and deliver not only panels, but modules. In this application, a builder might order, for example, 100 identical room modules, and would simply stack and connect them to an infrastructure frame in order to build a hotel.

Alternatively, SIPCRETE provides technology and materials to builders who wish to prefab a “thermocore” of foam, rebar, diagonals and forms, afterwhich cement is poured in over the core in order to complete a building exterior. Again, the cost in time and materials competes well with traditional building technologies, especially considering what is built is extremely durable and has very good insulating qualities.

The green building revolution marches on.


14 Responses to “Cement & Foam Panels”
  1. Brian Hayes says:

    The SCIP system in Germany is similar to a California innovation certified for the building code in the late 70s known as the Covington ‘W-Panel’. The concrete veneer sandwich has other variations including houses built in Baja with a panel called Tri-D. There’s a sequence animation here using the spray-on veneer panel for more robust two-story walls.

  2. Todd says:

    There are environmental pro’s and con’s to these type of building materials.

    First of all, EPS foam is far from a sustainable product. It is basically the same material as a styrofoam cup. This foam does not biodegrade, and cannot be recycled.

    However, SIPs provide much needed insulation and are strong enough to last intense storms. They will continue to be “greener” products as the materials become greener. Some companies are testing bio-based foams, and other recycle core alternatives. There will be many exciting products in the future. This site talk sandwich panel products available.
    Sandwich Panels.org

  3. Michele says:

    In response to Todd’s comment that styropor (which is the type of styrofoam used in SCIP technology) is not recyclable, I know for fact that it is recyclable. It is not biodegradable, so it really depends where this product is found that makes the difference. Let’s say you buy food that comes in Styrofoam packages. That styrofoam is not recyclable due to sanitary reasons, but if the foam is just for packaging or in this case for building purposes, it is fully recyclable. There is a company in the USA that has a recycling program specially for this type of foam: Here is the web link in case you have any further questions:
    http://www.basf.com/corporate/news2000/recycling122200.html

  4. Ellen says:

    I keep hearing about these panels but I can’t find anyone who is actually making them or building with them. Does anyone have contact info for a manufacturing plant capable of providing the finished scip panels and a builder capable of not only constructing a SCIP house but having the documentation needed on the product to pass city building inspector codes? If you do have this info, please share it.

  5. In producing of the concrete panels, the quality of reinforcing mesh is very important, especially the welding spot for the mesh fabrics. For more information, you can consult me or visit our site. We are from China. Lucia

  6. Sterling says:

    In response to Ellen,

    We are launching a National Company that has “Seven” Technologies that:

    1 – Use a patented, advanced technological design of SCIP that allows us to build a complete home in record time. We just “Fully completed” a 2,800 square foot shell of a house in California in “5″ days and can be lived in now but we are taking another few days to finish the inside and landscaping. (We used Tridi-panels as we have a factory in the U.S. but wanted to try out another company and will stay with our U.S. partners.

    2 – Use a patented, revolutionary HVAC system that saves up to 60% of energy without a traditional compressor. This system can cool and heat to extreme temperatures.

    3 – Use a water out of air extraction that eliminates the need to have public utilities as:

    4 – Solar and Wind Energy units that produce enough energy on scale to accommodate virtually any size building.

    5 – Water heating system that uses 90% less gas than traditional systems that has been used in South America for many years.

    6 – Fireproofing liquid that has over an R600 rating and allows no smoke. It is virtually organic and non-toxic.

    7 – Revolutionary Designs that capitalize upon maximum use of space with the Utilitarian benefits of any style architecture while growing a home or commercial building as a living, breathing Entity.

    You may contact me at sterlingmichaels at hotmail

  7. Dave Rongey says:

    I am wiring a SCIP Home right now and will have detailed information and photos showing how to install electrical wiring into the SCIP Home in progression.

    There are some variations in construction materials that you should know about when considering this type of construction method.
    Other Energy Efficient homes are also shown in detail as well as conventional homes for you to consider.

    Our website features information about the following Energy Effecient Homes:
    Structured Concrete Insulated Panel Homes or SCIP Homes
    Structured Insulated Panel Homes or SIP Homes
    Insulated Concrete Form Homes or ICF Homes

    See more at: http://www.ask-the-electrician.com

  8. sean tierney says:

    need cement panels for 1500 homes leave me a number to call please sean or contact my ast. at 612-990-9255 sean and danielle

  9. Don Behling says:

    Really need to know who sells the naked panels. I built several homes and property walls with these panels some years back. Friends in the south pacific would like to build inexpensive homes where manual labor and sand is plentiful. Need mfgr address and shipping possibilities to South Pacific.

  10. Gary says:

    It’s interesting to note that you simply can’t find these panels for sale. Sorta like building a house out of pumicecrete, the materials are cheap strong & have great insulating properties but YEP there is a patent and the guys with the patent sit on the product and do high end solutions at high profit ONLY. Soooo when the patents on these techniques run out we’ll be able to use them, but NOT until then.

  11. These days, the insulated panels are so strong they can be used as roofing material or walls without any additional structural support.

  12. Tony Palmer says:

    People wanting to build with Sipcrete can buy Interconnectors and self assembly panel kits from us.
    Most Sipcrete houses these days are built with PIR & PUR Core materials
    they surpass EPS by 40% Plus

    Sipcrete delivers passive housing below the cost of conventional structures in Europe.

  13. Tim Dunn says:

    I live in an SIP house near Seattle. It’s great. I have 10″ thick walls and 12″ thick roof panels. It takes very little to heat it. I’d use SCIP in the tropics for hurricane/termite/rot resistance. EPS (Styrofoam is a brand of EPS) is biodegradable. Soil microbes will eat any plastic – we make disposable plastic products that you find in fast food restaurants – straws, plastic cutlery, clear cups and lids, etc. that biodegrade. You can find links to scholarly references about ordinary soil microbes eating plastic on our website at http://earthnurture.com – not a plug, we sell only to big businesses and only by the container load!

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