In-Depth Course

Fundamentals of High Performance Building Assemblies

Design assemblies that live up to their potential

Course developer Peter Yost explains how high-performance assemblies are fundamentally different from traditional building assemblies.

High-performance buildings integrate site-responsive orientation, climate-responsive form, hefty R-values, efficient mechanical systems, healthy indoor air, and glazing that effectively balances daylight and heat gain.

BuildingGreen's four-part course, designed for architects and builders, provides methodologies for how best to design and manage these details and achieve superior performance—while avoiding expensive pitfalls.

What you'll learn:

After completing the course, you will be able to:

  • Recall how the acronym ENDURE speaks to the unifying aspect of high-performance buildings.
  • Describe how to apply the principles of high-performance assemblies in everyday work.
  • Employ integrated project delivery to co-design an installation sequence.
  • Describe how to manage moisture flow with continuous control layers
  • Describe how to achieve continuity in air barrier assemblies
  • Determine the best places to locate thermal barriers
  • Understand how to deal with vapor diffusion using advanced tools, methods and materials
  • Discuss the difference between vented and ventilated assemblies
  • Explain why BECx befits integrated design, integrated project delivery, and design-build contracts.
  • Outline the process to retrofit an existing building for high performance.


Unit 1: The Science of High-Performance Assemblies

Hygrothermal Performance: The Key Driver
How water moves through buildings
Continuous water barriers
Capillary breaks
Drained and rainscreen systems: Managing bulk water, capillary water, and drying
Continuous air barriers
How Blower-Door Tests Measure Airtightness
Continuous thermal barriers
Understanding thermal bridging
Reducing Heat Flow Through Windows
Vapor profiles vs vapor retarders
How "smart" vapor retarders work
Combining control layers
Using WUFI to prevent moisture problems
Vented and ventilated wall assemblies
"Vented" crawl space foundations
Vented and unvented attics and roofs

Unit 2: Getting Details Right

Residential and Commercial High Performance Assembly Examples
The Special Challenges of Curtainwall
"Perfect" Assemblies
Alternative Assemblies
Joints: Sealants, Tapes and Gaskets
Putties and caulks
Agreeing on terms, and applications
Avoiding failed seals with bond breaks
How to choose a sealant that works
"Hybrids"–MS Polymers
Making tapes stay put
Rubberized asphalt
Butyl rubber
Tape performance: Other considerations
Assessing service life
Compression and memory
Wet versus dry glazing
Service life of gaskets
Assessing product safety
Liquid Sealants and Chemical Safety
Flashing Tapes and Chemical Safety
Gaskets and Chemical Safety
Case Study: Cape Cod Passive House

Unit 3: High-Performance Design and Construction Process

How high performance Scopes Of Work differ from standard SOW
Verifying Performance with Building Envelope Commissioning
Cx vs. BECx
Pre-design phase
Design phase
Achieving continuity
Construction Phase
During construction
What gets tested
Occupancy and operations
Guidelines and standards
HOBO data loggers
Integrated High Performance HVAC
Case Study: Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery

Unit 4: High-Performance Retrofits

Getting to know the building
Case Study: Renovation of 46 Blackstone
Historic masonry in cold climates
Reduce airflow, encourage vapor flow
Ongoing monitoring
Case Study: Edminster-Bohner Home Retrofit
The damp crawl space
Ongoing monitoring
Design Review: Existing and Planned Elements
Design Review Drawings: Edminster-Bohner Home Retrofit
Comprehensive Home Assessment Checklist
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