South Palm Beach Mayor Bonnie Fischer looks at a sample of a structural insulated panel, which she introduced as an option as the town researches plans for constructing a new Town Hall. Joe Capozzi/The Coastal Star
By Joe Capozzi
Plans for a new Town Hall, debated off and on for the past six years, took another twist late last month when Mayor Bonnie Fischer suggested using a cost-efficient construction system called SIPs.
That’s the acronym for structural insulated panels, billed as a high-performance building system for residential and light commercial construction.
The panels — made of an insulating foam core sandwiched between two structural facings of wood, typically oriented strand board — would replace traditional stick-frame construction. They meet Miami-Dade hurricane requirements, are energy efficient and reduce the time it typically takes to construct a building, she said.
Fischer said that based on her preliminary research, a new Town Hall built with SIPs could cost about $2 million. In May, architects hired by the town to design a new building put the cost at nearly $6 million.
“I would like to see something like this done by our town to put us on the map. ‘Wow, we’re the town that has done this and look what we have,’’’ she said Aug. 25 at a Town Council workshop, where she showed off a panel sample at the dais.
Council members voiced support for seeking requests for proposals from SIPs contractors at a future meeting.
“I am 100% behind this,’’ said council member Ray McMillan.
Fischer said she started researching the alternative construction method a few months ago, when she remembered having seen a factory that makes SIPs on a visit to Georgia a few years ago.
“I’m just trying to get this idea out as an alternative to the regular building style,’’ she said. “Maybe this is the way to go.’’
She said she had not discussed the idea with the architectural firm Synalovski Romanik Saye, which has a $63,000 contract with South Palm Beach to design a new Town Hall.
“If we decide to go with this system, there may be a disconnect without architects,’’ she told the council.