Passive House Accelerator Construction Tech: Exterior Insulation Install

Last Tuesday we had the opportunity to (virtually) walk through a jobsite in Kamloops, British Columbia, with Darryl Caunt of Tri-AMM Developments. A true pro with more than 25 years of experience in building, Darryl walked us through a project where he had installed structural insulation on the exterior of the home.

After submitting plans, the homeowner heard about the benefits of high-performance building and only then asked if it was possible for Darryl to make improvements to the building envelope to make it more airtight. Because of those years of experience, Darryl was able to change gears midway through the project and modify the envelope to meet those goals.

1. High-performance components are part of a high-performance system

Just because a window is designed to have an R‑value of 7 or 8 doesn’t mean that it will perform to that level. It needs to be properly installed and insulated because as just one component within a larger system. As Kevin Brennan said following Darryl’s presentation, if there is a lot of thermal bridging or higher than expect Psi values because the install detail is off, your high-performance R7 or R8 windows end up performing like R4 windows.

2. The earlier you catch a problem, the better

It becomes progressively more expensive to change or fix design details the further along you are in a project. These changes are at their easiest and cheapest when they can be made with an eraser and a pencil. They become more difficult and costly if construction has already begun because it translates into delays and wasted materials. If you only notice the issue after the work has been done, that means you have to spend time and resources undoing the work you’ve already done, and then do it again. Frequent team meetings, especially in the early days of a project, give you more opportunities to notice and rectify these problems before construction even gets underway.

3. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a belt & suspenders

Apart from being energy efficient, high-performance buildings are supposed to stand the test of time. Like a good pair of boots, you’re not just paying for comfort and quality; you’re also paying for durability. When a homeowner or developer decides to go for Passive House certification, they expect the building to continue to perform without defects and at an optimal level for decades. Taking a belt and suspenders approach—by using expanding foam and tape on a window, for example—is better than getting caught with your figurative pants down.

You can see Darryl’s work and hear his responses to audience Q&A in the video below. Enjoy!

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