University of Colorado Denver professor and architect, AIA, Julee Herdt, and former graduate student Kellen Schauermann (MArch 2009), have been awarded a United States Patent for a new, eco-friendly, wall, floor and roof construction system called BioSIPs (Bio-Structural Insulated Panels). It is the first patent to originate from CU Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning and only the third for the University of Colorado Denver.
The BioSIPs system uses a technique for engineering 100% recycled fibers into high strength boards for lightweight, easy to assemble building panels that can be used in all types of construction, including homes and interior spaces. Waste materials for making BioSIPs include post-consumer paper, agricultural waste from farms and fields, forest wood considered fire hazards, noxious weeds, industrial hemp, and many others.
“BioSIPs” combines the word “Bio” meaning living and “SIPs,” which is the industry acronym for “Structural Insulated Panels.” As a newly invented sustainable material, BioSIPs can help replace petroleum-based building products known to harm humans and the environment. The invention is based on Julee Herdt’s research and teaching program at CU and with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Products Laboratory.
“The BioSIPs invention actually consumes society’s waste and diverts tons of trash into valuable products for safe, strong, and energy efficient buildings,” Herdt says. “There is great beauty and value in waste materials. It just takes the right processes and methods to find it and with BioSIPs we’ve invented and now patented these techniques.”
Herdt and CU students applied first generation BioSIPs as the main structural system for the College of Architecture and Planning’s first place internationally award-winning 2005 Solar Decathlon. In this biannual global competition, collegiate teams are challenged to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. CU’s BioSIPs home took top honors over the competing collegiate teams’ homes that were built using traditional systems. The Solar D win helped first show the world the value of the BioSIPs system while validating and supporting Herdt’s work at CU.