10 Cutting-edge, Energy-efficient Building Materials

Vacuum Insulation Panel

In a 1-inch (2.54-centimeter) panel, the vacuum insulation panel (VIP) provides as much as seven times the insulating protection as traditional products [source: NAHB Research Center]. This technology may well be the ultimate insulation panel. However, it's currently only available for commercial industrial refrigeration and specialized container systems.

The VIP looks like something out of the old NASA films about spacecraft technology. It's a textured silver rectangle that holds a core panel enclosed in an airtight envelope. Manufacturers can make the panels in any size.

The National Association of Home Builders reports that the biggest installation problem is the panel's fragile surface, which has to be encased in a protective covering. The association is working with The Dow Chemical Company, the chief manufacturer of the product, to make the panels available as insulation for attics in future residential construction.

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