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Building Enclosures: Continuous Exterior Insulation and High R-Value Walls (6 HSWs)
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Building Enclosures: Continuous Exterior Insulation and High R-Value Walls (6 HSWs)

When: Thursday, May 24, 2018
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Where: AIA San Francisco
130 Sutter Street, Suite 600
San Francisco, California  94104
United States

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Many nonresidential storefront and curtainwall enclosing walls have R-values between two and four, no better than 125 year old, uninsulated mass wall enclosures. As the State of California targets zero net energy and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and energy codes become more stringent, designers and builders need to understand how to design, detail, and construct high thermal performance enclosures. Building science expert John Straube will cover important concepts and detailing approaches for true high R-value enclosures, especially the important benefits of continuous insulation. He will discuss in detail how to employ continuous exterior insulation, minimize thermal bridging, and attach the (enclosing) exterior skin with minimal reduction in air, water, and thermal performance. The class will include interactive exercises where participants apply the information in analyses of sectional drawings and building details.


Image: RDH Building Science



  • Modes of heat flow: Radiation, Convection, Conduction
  • What is R-Value
  • Material Properties and Heat Flow
  • Material Form and Heat Flow - Loose, Batt, Spray, Board
  • Air Leakage, Thermal Bridges, Thermal Mass
  • Continuous Insulation - Solutions and Concerns
  • Thermal Bridging: Detailing to Reduce It
  • Cladding Attachment
  • Other Challenges: Foundations, Balconies, Parapets, Windows
  • Planning for Thermal Continuity
  • Conclusions and Advice
  • Wrap-up, Q&A, Post-course evaluation


Learning Objectives:

At the conclusion of the program, participants will:

  1. Be able to list three reasons why contemporary buildings fail to achieve nominal R-values and an action that can be taken to improve performance;
  2. Be able to describe the thermal bridging capacity of commonly used structural and building materials such as wood, steel, aluminum, concrete and ways;
  3. Have a fundamental understanding of the building science principles than can result in poor performance at windows, balconies and penetrating slabs, and when using steel studs on exterior walls;
  4. Have seen examples of exterior cladding installed over continuous insulation, know of resources to guide detailing of such walls; and have applied guiding principles in class exercises.


About the Presenter

John Straube, Ph.D., P.Eng., is a Principal at RDH Building Science Inc., where he heads forensic investigations and leads research projects in the areas of low-energy building design, building enclosure performance, hygrothermal analysis, and field monitoring of wall assemblies. He is also a prolific writer, a noted public speaker, and a sought-after “performance coach” who helps other professionals coordinate their efforts and achieve higher levels of performance in their building projects.

Dr. Straube’s internationally recognized expertise on moisture control in enclosures began with his interest, as a graduate student, in rainscreen and brick veneer wall systems. His early career also demonstrates his adventurous attitude: traveling across North America, South America, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, he worked on projects that ranged from investigating failed office towers to consulting on historically sensitive retrofits. This same adventurousness can be seen in his drive towards professional innovation – for example, he was a pioneer in the use of WUFI analysis in North America. Over the course of his career, Dr. Straube has also been deeply involved in the areas of building enclosure design and whole building performance, as a consultant, researcher, and educator.

In addition to his work with RDH Building Science Inc, Dr. Straube is a cross-appointed faculty member in the School of Architecture and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He was a Principal at Building Science Corporation from 2006 to 2013, and is the co-author, with Eric Burnett, of Building Science for Building Enclosures, one of few texts available with a specific focus on the principles of building science. Dr. Straube’s leadership as a building scientist and an educator has been recognized with multiple awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in Building Science Education from the National Consortium of Housing Research Centers (NCHRC).