Continuous Exterior Insulation: Design Considerations for Improved Durability and Energy Performance

This educational session will present trends in high-performing wall designs that are intended to meet or exceed current mandates for continuous wall insulation.  Longstanding assumptions regarding moisture and thermal performance will be re-examined on the basis of component and assembly performance.   Attendees will be introduced to critical insights necessary for achieving durable, cost effective assemblies that are readily scalable to achieve the highest levels of thermal efficiency.

Potential pitfalls in current practices will be demonstrated through case studies that combine practical field experience, hygrothermal modeling, and state-of-the art computational fluid dynamics (CFD).  Building science research will be presented on rainscreen airflow dynamics, convective heat loss, and effective R-values resulting from various cladding attachment systems.  Multifactorial effects of common insulation strategies, moisture loading, and air/weather barrier properties will be presented in context with moisture performance, long-term durability, and effective thermal performance.

Open discussion will be encouraged on preferred strategies for achieving high performance through greater simplicity and thoughtful wall design.

Learning Objectives

  1. Attendees will have a more thorough understanding of energy efficient mandates and high-performance initiatives involving continuous insulation.
  1. Attendees will gain a better understanding of current building science principles with respect to continuous insulation and ventilated rainscreen design.
  1. Attendees will gain advanced knowledge on how material properties of individual wall components affect greater assembly performance under actual, real-world conditions.
  1. Attendees will better understand conditions that influence effective R-values of building enclosure walls.  More importantly, attendees will be well informed on the risks of thermal bypasses with respect to moisture transport and assembly durability.
  1. Attendees will see more clearly the design challenges when integrating continuous insulation. Specifically, attendees will gain novel perspective of wall durability in response to common insulation strategies, air/weather barrier properties, and expected moisture loading.
  1. Attendees with be introduced to new design considerations that embrace the critical elements of air, moisture, and thermal management for modern, energy-efficient walls. Furthermore, attendees will be challenged to seek wall designs that integrate greater simplicity, improved climate adaptability, and increased moisture resilience.


Doggett-150x150M. Steven Doggett, Ph.D., LEED AP  |  Principal Scientist  |  Built Environments, Inc.  |  Phone:  651-439-9396  |  Email:

Dr. Doggett is the Founder & CEO of Built Environments, Inc., an architectural & building science consulting firm located in Stillwater, Minnesota. Dr. Doggett’s expertise combines advance building science principles with extensive field and design experience to help multi-stakeholders achieve resilient, high-performing buildings. He has served as the principal investigator and senior project manager on hundreds of projects involving all markets and all building types.  Dr. Doggett currently chairs the Minnesota chapter of the Building Enclosure Council.


May 24 Slide Presentation

Simulation of Convective Heat Loss through Mineral Wool in a Rainsceen Facade.