Building America Case Study: Construction Guidelines for High R-Value Walls without Exterior Rigid Insulation, Cold Climate Region

Stacey Rothgeb, L. Arena

Research output: NRELFact Sheet


High-R wall assemblies (R-40 and above) are gaining popularity in the market due to programs like the DOE's Zero Energy Ready Home program, Passive House (PH), Net Zero Energy Home (NZEH) challenges in several states, and highly incentivized retrofit programs. In response to this demand, several builders have successfully used 'double wall' systems to more practically achieve higher R-values in thicker, framed walls. To builders of conventional stick-framed homes, often one of the most appealing features of double wall systems is that there are very few new exterior details. Exterior sheathing, structural bracing, house wrap or building paper, window and door flashing, and siding attachment are usually identical to good details in conventional framed wall systems. The information presented in this guide is intended to reduce the risk of failure in these types of assemblies, increase durability, and result in a reduction of material brought to landfills due to failures and resulting decay. While this document focuses on double wall framing techniques, the majority of the information on how to properly construct and finish high R-value assemblies is applicable to all wall assemblies that do not have foam insulation installed on the exterior of the structural sheathing. The techniques presented have been shown through field studies to reduce the likelihood of mold growth and moisture related damage and are intended for builders, framing contractors, architects, and consultants involved in designing and building super insulated homes.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages2
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings (CARB), Norwalk, Connecticut

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/FS-5500-65148

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102017-4784


  • air tight construction
  • Building America
  • condensation
  • Consortium of Advanced Residential Buildings
  • double wall assemblies
  • High-R walls
  • moisture related problems
  • moisture risk mitigation
  • residential
  • residential buildings
  • Steven Winter Associates, Inc.
  • SWA


Dive into the research topics of 'Building America Case Study: Construction Guidelines for High R-Value Walls without Exterior Rigid Insulation, Cold Climate Region'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this