Local biz gets boost from ‘green’ push

COTTONWOOD – A popular Robbinsdale restaurant’s desire to build green led to an area business getting some media coverage in the past week. The structural insulated panels (SIPs) produced at Extreme Panel Technologies in Cottonwood were featured on WCCO This Morning on Tuesday as part of a story on the construction of the new Travail restaurant in Robbinsdale.

Linda Dieken, CFO and co-owner of Extreme Panel Technologies, said the growing interest in green building and has been positive for the business.

“There’s a growing demand, because of the energy-efficiency (of SIPs),” Dieken said.

Travail Kitchen and Amusements, a Robbinsdale restaurant that has gotten some acclaim in the past few years, is in the middle of building a new location, using funds raised in an online Kickstarter campaign. Instead of using a stick-built structure, Travail’s new location will have SIP wall and roof panels, which will increase the building’s energy efficiency.

A structural insulated panel is a building material made “kind of like an ice cream sandwich,” Dieken explained. A layer of rigid foam insulation is sandwiched between two layers of particle board.

“When you stand the wall up, it’s already insulated,” Dieken said. The resulting panel is both strong and airtight. “There aren’t any gaps in the insulation, so there aren’t any cold or warm spots.”

Large wall panels can be custom-built from the material, complete with pre-cut window openings. Besides improving energy efficiency, Dieken said, using SIPs in a building can help save on labor costs and speed up the construction process.

Terry and Linda Dieken founded Extreme Panel Technologies in Cottonwood in 1992. During the past 20 years, business has grown enough that the shop has been expanded twice and now employs 26 people, Linda Dieken said.

“We are nationwide,” Dieken said.

SIPs produced by Extreme Panel Technologies have been used in construction of buildings from Texas to Minneapolis, as well as on local projects.

Although the recession brought some tough times, Dieken said interest in building with SIPs is starting to grow again.

“Now we’re seeing it more, especially with people becoming more aware of the environment,” Dieken said.

Changing technology has also helped get the word out about the company’s products.

“The computer and the Internet are a wonderful means of getting out there,” Linda Dieken said. However, she added, “The best way of marketing is seeing the buildings going up.”

In that sense, she said, being part of the new Travail is a great way to spread the word about Extreme Panel Technologies.