Pioneering the Future of Insulated Vinyl Siding: A Glimpse into Tomorrow's Homes

By Fernando Pages-Ruiz

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) often conjures images of public housing for low-income families or HUD-Code mobile homes, also known as manufactured housing. However, beneath this familiar surface lies a lesser-known facet of HUD's work—its commitment to fostering innovation in building materials and methods that shape the future of housing.

Since 2019, HUD has been hosting an annual Innovative Housing Showcase at the prestigious National Mall, offering a glimpse into the forefront of housing technology. This year's event was no exception, boasting an eclectic array of displays that unveiled the latest advancements poised to revolutionize the industry.

Strolling through the exhibits of innovations displayed at this year's Innovative Housing Showcase, one technology shone with the promise of transforming the future of home construction—insulated vinyl siding. The fusion of vinyl siding with advanced insulation methods ushers in a new era of energy-efficient housing, igniting a sense of excitement about its possibilities.

From the continuous insulation displays provided by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to the groundbreaking ultra-high R/inch Vacuum-Insulated Panels (VIP) unveiled by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the potential of insulated vinyl siding stood out. These innovations offered superior thermal performance and suggested ways for homes to be both eco-friendly and economically sustainable.

At the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory display, the spotlight fell on continuous insulation paired with vinyl siding. Here, visitors witnessed a compelling demonstration of thermal performance as conventional 20th-century insulation faced off against high-performance exterior continuous insulation. Exhibitors built two boxes, one based on conventional construction and the other with high-performance continuous insulation. In each box, they placed a block of ice on the first day of the showcase. By the third day, the ice in the conventionally built box was a puddle of water. In contrast, the ice in the high-performance enclosure remained solid, highlighting the efficacy of innovative insulation methods in maintaining interior comfort while reducing energy consumption.

However, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory exhibit truly stole the show, unveiling the potential of ultra-high R-value per-inch Vacuum Insulated Panels (VIP). A sample tile showcased an impressive R-5 for a mere quarter inch. Adding only a slender, half-inch foam backing to vinyl siding, these panels can deliver a staggering R-10. This groundbreaking technology leverages the potential of vacuum insulation to minimize heat transfer and holds the key to unlocking ultra-high levels of thermal resistance in home construction.

With ongoing research and development pushing the boundaries of thermal performance and sustainability, the insulated siding industry stands on the brink of a new era in housing construction. Offering homes that boast superior energy efficiency and offer unmatched durability, aesthetic appeal, and affordability—a testament to the transformative potential of insulated vinyl siding.


With a 30- year career in construction, Fernando Pagés Ruiz has become a dedicated proponent of building innovation in low-cost housing. His Liberty Village development won the National Association of Homebuilders’ Workforce Housing Award as a multicultural development sensitive to the architectural preferences of diverse ethnicities. He is an expert in and has pioneered advanced technology in housing, winning the NAHB’s Best Green Built Demonstration Home for the PATH Concept Home, featured in Fine Homebuilding Magazine. Fernando authored “Building the Affordable House: Trade Secrets for High-Value, Low-Cost Construction” and “The Affordable Remodel, " published by The Taunton Press. He is currently working with Andrés Duany to design and fabricate a new generation of manufactured housing. Fernando has a master’s degree in green building and is ICC Certified as a Residential Building Inspector active in code development. He has been a keynote speaker at the Vermont Energy Conference, and presented at numerous trade events, including the International Builders Show, JLC Live, the Congress for New Urbanism, ASHRAE, among others.