07 Feb 2014

Top Innovation Spotlight: Exterior Rigid Insulation Best Practices

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For years, Building America research teams have advocated using the thermal, air, and vapor properties of rigid foam sheathing insulation to improve walls,
This photos shows a rigid exterior insulation installed on the roof of a house.The NorthernSTAR team’s “overcoat” is a continuous air, moisture, and thermal barrier that is applied on the outside of the roof structure for improved overall performance. roofs, and foundations of homes.
In 2013, these research efforts earned a Top Innovation award, acknowledging work by three Building America teams.

Research by the Partnership for Home Innovation resulted in a design methodology for high-performance walls with exterior rigid foam sheathing under wind pressure loading, which will lead to improved disaster-resistant wall solutions. This research formed the basis for a new ANSI Standard for wind pressure resistance, which is now referenced in model building codes across the United States.

Building Science Corporation’s field and test facility studies of rigid structure sheathing include: verification of an optimally performing, cost-effective framed wall assembly; use of insulation board as the primary sheathing and in certain areas, as the drainage plane and vapor control layer; and techniques for roof applications. NorthernSTAR Partnership’s whole-house “overcoat” approach to air sealing and insulating existing homes with rigid foam installed over the roof, walls, and foundations has reduced air leakage by up to 81%.

Building Energy Optimization analysis of the strategy indicates source energy savings above 50% and whole-house leakage reductions of 20% to 60% when the roof alone was retrofitted. Learn about all of the Building America Top Innovations.

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