There are many elements that comprise a High Performance Home. It must be energy efficient with very low utility bills. The Building Envelope which consists of all surfaces in contact with the outside, from the foundation and exterior walls to the home’s roof must be highly insulated with minimal air leaks to the outside. “Build it tight, ventilate it right” is an often heard green building mantra. It must also be a Healthy Home with constant clean filtered air circulating throughout, and with VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) eliminated to the greatest extent possible.
Building with structural insulated panels (SIPs) is a good way to get strong and super tight exterior walls and roofs. A SIP is a form of sandwich panel consisting of an insulating layer of rigid foam core sandwiched between two layers of structural board.
SIPs share the same structural properties as an I-beam or I-column. The rigid insulation core of the SIP acts as a web, while the sheathing fulfills the function of the flanges. Both the insulation and OSB section thicknesses are determined by engineering considerations.
SIPs combine several components of conventional building, such as studs and joists, insulation, vapor barrier and air barrier. They can be used for many different applications, such as exterior wall, roof, floor and foundation systems.
Check out the SIP article at Wikipedia and SIPA, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structural_insulated_panel and https://www.sips.org/