ThermaSAVE is a panel building system which uses a 4 to 12-inch-thick core of expanded polystyrene (similar to Styrofoam) sandwiched between two sheets of cellulose fiber-reinforced cement board varying in thickness from 3/8 to 7/16 inch, depending on structural requirements. This creates a "stress skinned" panel, also known as structural insulated panels (SIPs). Since c. 1984 H.H. "Hoot" Haddock from Florence, Alabama has been working on perfecting a polystyrene-based building system that would be faster and easier to construct than wood framed buildings, while having superior insulation and strength.


Haddock has used the panels to construct an 18,000-square-foot Ford showroom and a 32,000-square-foot church, and at trade shows Haddock parks a 3,400-pound pickup truck on a 24-foot-long foam panel ramp which remains straight. A house is also being built in Houston, Texas with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Energy.


Because expanded polystyrene is 95% air it is an excellent insulator; and the hard cement skin, bonded to the polystyrene, provides the structuralsupport. In combination the ThermaSAVE panels provide the best of bothworlds and have numerous advantages over standard building materials.

* Better insulation with an r-value of 21.6 vs. 11 for wood results in significant cooling and heating savings.
* Weight load of a wall per linear foot is 3,750 vs. 3,200 for wood.
* Easy assembly requiring only a third of the time to setup the LEGO-like panels.
* Resistant to fire, wind, pests, moisture and sound. [ (Fire test video)]
* Lower overall cost with a 1,456-square-foot in Houston costing $55,287 with conventional materials and labor vs. $46,597 with a panel system.

Disaster reconstruction

After some consultation Haddock participated in an earthquake test conducted in Cincinnati on January 28, 2005 which was filmed by Daily Planet. The two-story building withstood accelerations beyond 7"g" without losing any screws, whereas the previous record was 4 g. The test continued until the testing machine began to fail, but the building remained intact.

With the success of the tests the ThermaSAVE Building System could be implemented in Iran, Afghanistan and even in areas effected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami by 2006.

External links

* [ ThermaSAVE] – Official website
* [] – Foam Home
* [ Daily Planet] – Hoot Haddock participates in tests [ (video)]
* [ BBC] – Polystyrene homes planned for Afghans

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