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High-Performance Wall Design

Part 1 - Design Factors

High-performance walls are an increasingly popular choice among Architects and Engineers.  This is because they provide numerous sustainable benefits, including improved thermal resistance, reduced air leakage, increased durability, enhanced indoor air quality, increased energy efficiency, improved moisture management & expanded material selections with less environmental impact.  A high-performance wall system has liquid water control, air leakage control, and thermal resistance.  Each of these components is equally important to the overall performance of the wall system. 

Liquid Water - liquid water is what causes damage to a building over time.  It seeps into the insulation, walls, windows, doors, floors, etc., and can lead to mold growth and other issues related to moisture intrusion.  High-performance liquid water barriers are used to prevent liquid water from penetrating through or around them which provides major benefits for the long-term durability of the building enclosure as well as indoor air quality by preventing potential health hazards associated with liquid water intrusion.   
Air Leakage - High-performance walls also have an air barrier.  An air barrier is a material or assembly of materials that resist the passage of air through the wall system.  Air leakage can be a major source of energy loss in buildings, so having an effective air barrier is crucial to achieving high performance. 

Thermal Resistance - thermal resistance, also known as R-value, is the ability of a material to resist heat flow.  The higher the R-value, the better the insulation value and the more energy-efficient the material will be. 
When choosing a high-performance wall system, it is important to consider all three of these components.  Each one plays an important role in ensuring that the wall performs as intended. 

For architects and engineers looking for a high-performance wall system, it is important to consider all of the options available and find the one that best meets the needs of the project. 

Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete is one component of a high-performance wall system, which we will expand upon in follow-up blog articles.

James Herman
Design Director

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