Best PracticesA2P1066: Deep Dive Into The Power of Continuous Insulation Best Practices

September 5, 2023


Continuous insulation is an essential component in modern construction, minimizing energy loss and enhancing overall building performance. This article will delve into the key aspects of continuous insulation best practices, covering Structural Integrity, Fastener Retention, Thermal Efficiency, Durability, Fire Resistance, Environmental Impact, Building Health, and Ease of Installation.

More than a listing of practices, this overview seeks to provide an understanding of these areas, emphasizing their interconnections and impact on the efficiency, sustainability, safety, and resilience of buildings. The subsequent sections will serve as a comprehensive guide, offering actional insights and reflecting a commitment to excellence in construction.

Section 1: Structural Integrity

The Mitchell | SMARTci Systems | continuous insulation best practices

The architectural marvels of the modern world aren’t solely about aesthetics; they hinge on a precise understanding of structural integrity. When it comes to continuous insulation, structural integrity goes beyond merely holding things together. It defines how the insulation interfaces with the entire building system, ensuring stability, performance, and resilience.

This section will explore the critical aspects of structural integrity, from point load design and cantilevers to eccentric loads, joinery methods, and Finite Element Analysis (FEA).

  1. Point Load Design: Ensuring the structure can handle specific loads at distinct points, enhancing stability and longevity without compromising insulation performance.
  2. Cantilevers: Specialized design considerations for handling unique stresses in cantilevered elements.
  3. Eccentric Loads: Adapting to loads that are not aligned with the attachment to the substrate, safeguarding insulation integrity.
  4. Joinery Method: Choosing the proper method to align with structural and thermal goals, such as the integrative design of GreenGirt CMH sub-framing.
  5. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) Approval: Utilizing FEA for tailored solutions that align with specific building needs and optimal performance.
  6. Service Temperature: Recognizing and accounting for the temperature range within which the continuous insulation system must operate. This includes considering fluctuations that may affect material properties and performance, thereby ensuring that the insulation functions effectively under the specific thermal conditions of the building.

Structural integrity in continuous insulation encompasses carefully considered design principles, from point loads to service temperature. Each element contributes to insulation that performs its thermal role while adding to the overall stability and adaptability of the structure. The responsive and responsible approach to these design aspects ensures a continuous insulation system that integrates flawlessly with modern building needs.

Section 2: Fastener Retention

fasteners | continuous insulation best practices

The hidden strength of a continuous insulation system often lies in its fasteners. These components may be small, but their role in retaining the structural and thermal integrity of the insulation is paramount. Fastener retention goes beyond mere attachment; it encompasses various factors that contribute to the longevity and effectiveness of the insulation. This section will explore the key elements of fastener retention, such as pull-out strength, torque retention, and innovative strategies like avoiding blind or cantilevered fastening.

  1. Pull-Out Strength: A measure of the force required to pull a fastener out of its anchoring, pull-out strength is vital for ensuring that the continuous insulation stays securely in place. Careful consideration of materials and design can optimize this factor, enhancing the system’s resilience against external forces.
  2. Torque Retention: Torque retention refers to the fastener’s ability to maintain the applied torque over time without loosening the quality. This is essential for the insulation’s long-term stability, and it depends on factors like material selection, fastening method, and overall design.
  3. No Blind Fastening: Blind fastening, where the point of attachment is not visible or immediately accessible, can be a weak spot in the system. By avoiding blind fastening in continuous insulation, the integrity of the connection can be visually confirmed, thereby improving reliability.
  4. No Cantilevered Fastening: Cantilevered fastening, where the fastener is supported at one end, can lead to instability. Eliminating this practice ensures that the insulation system is anchored on both sides, reducing the potential for failure and enhancing structural integrity.

Fastener retention is not a singular concept but a symphony of interrelated principles that collectively define the strength and stability of a continuous insulation system. From pull-out strength to the avoidance of blind or cantilevered fastening, each element plays a critical role in enhancing the overall performance of the system.

The nuanced understanding and application of these principles contribute to a robust continuous insulation system, reflecting a commitment to quality and precision in construction. This attention to detail is manifested in innovative solutions like SMARTci systems, where zero thermal short fasteners ensure optimal performance without compromising on integrity.

Section 3: Thermal Efficiency

MetroHealth Medical Center - SMARTci 1 in 1 System | continuous insulation best practices

Thermal efficiency is at the core of continuous insulation’s purpose, striving to create a barrier that minimizes heat transfer through the building envelope. This is more than just a matter of conserving energy; it’s about optimizing the performance, comfort, and sustainability of the building. In this section, we will explore the elements that contribute to thermal efficiency, such as the elimination of through-wall metal, reduction of internal condensation potential, and the importance of the EFF Rate.

  1. No Through-Wall Metal: Metal components can often act as thermal bridges, conducting heat and undermining the insulation’s effectiveness. This thermal bridging is eliminated by avoiding through-wall metal in continuous insulation, enhancing the overall insulation performance.
  2. No Through-Insulation Metal: Similarly, metal within the insulation material itself can also lead to thermal bridging. Designs that avoid through-insulation metal, like SMARTci systems, further reduce heat transfer, maintaining a consistent thermal barrier.
  3. Reduce Internal Condensation Potential: Internal condensation can compromise both thermal efficiency and structural integrity. By employing strategies that minimize this potential, the insulation system remains dry and effective, contributing to a healthier and more comfortable building environment.

Thermal efficiency is not a monolithic goal but a complex interplay of design decisions, material choices, and analytical understanding. Continuous insulation achieves a performance level that goes beyond mere compliance with energy standards by avoiding thermal bridges and reducing condensation potential. It resonates with the fundamental purpose of insulation — to provide a robust and consistent barrier that supports a building’s longevity, comfort, and sustainability. The approach to thermal efficiency represented in innovations like the SMARTci system exemplifies this commitment to excellence, creating a long-term investment in the building that pays dividends in performance and satisfaction.

Section 4: Durability

Durability in continuous insulation isn’t a luxury — it’s a necessity. In a world where buildings must stand the test of time, the endurance of insulation materials plays a pivotal role. Durability isn’t just about resisting wear and tear; it’s about maintaining structural integrity, thermal efficiency, and overall performance through various challenges. This section will explore the multifaceted aspects of durability, including impact resistance, creep resistance, minimal fatigue, accelerated age testing, and the engineered high safety factor.

  1. Impact Resistance per ASTM D256: Adhering to the ASTM D256 standard ensures that the continuous insulation system can withstand significant impacts without failing. It’s a testament to the material’s ability to absorb energy and maintain integrity, a vital quality in environments where accidental impacts might occur.
  2. Creep Resistance: Creep is the tendency of a material to deform permanently under sustained stress. Creep resistance in continuous insulation ensures that the material maintains its shape and function over time, even under constant pressure or weight, which is essential for long-term structural stability.
  3. Minimal Fatigue: Material fatigue refers to the weakening of a material caused by repeatedly applied loads. Designing continuous insulation for minimal fatigue means it will endure repeated cycles of heating and cooling, expansion and contraction, and live loads without losing its insulating properties or structural integrity.
  4. Accelerated Age Testing: This process simulates the long-term effects of aging in a shorter time frame, allowing for a rigorous assessment of how continuous insulation materials will perform as they age. It’s a proactive approach to understanding and ensuring that the materials used will continue to perform optimally over the building’s lifespan.
  5. Engineered High Safety Factor: The safety factor measures the load-carrying capacity beyond what is expected in normal use. Engineering a high safety factor into continuous insulation reflects a commitment to designing for safety and longevity, ensuring that the system will continue to perform under expected or extreme conditions.

Durability in continuous insulation isn’t simply a matter of robust materials or resilient design. It’s an intricate dance of science, engineering, and foresight. From complying with recognized standards like ASTM D256 to innovative practices like accelerated age testing, durability is woven into every layer of the continuous insulation process. The result is a system that not only withstands the typical wear and tear but anticipates and resists the unexpected. In a world where every detail matters, the focus on durability in continuous insulation design ensures a legacy of performance, integrity, and value, reflected in enduring materials and methods.

Section 5: Fire Resistance

Understanding ASTM E84 - Maximizing Fire Safety for Your Architectural Projects

In the realm of building construction, fire resistance isn’t merely a quality — it’s an imperative. Continuous insulation must not only provide thermal efficiency but also adhere to stringent fire safety standards. Fire resistance is about more than surviving a blaze; it’s about minimizing risks, contributing to overall building safety, and complying with regulations. In this section, we’ll explore various aspects of fire resistance in continuous insulation, including adherence to ASTM E84, compliance with NFPA 285, and excluding halogens and bromine.

  1. ASMT E84 Tested: The ASTM E84 test measures the surface burning characteristics of building materials. Continuous insulation that meets this standard has undergone rigorous testing to ensure that it doesn’t contribute to the spread of flames, a critical component in overall building safety.
  2. NFPA 285 Compliant: Compliance with NFPA 285 ensures that the continuous insulation system has been evaluated for fire performance in multi-story buildings. This standard represents a comprehensive approach to fire safety, integrating various building design elements to minimize risk.
  3. Halogen and Bromine-Free: Halogens and bromine can produce toxic fumes when burned. By excluding these substances from continuous insulation materials, the risk of toxic exposure in the event of a fire is minimized, adding another layer of safety and well-being.

Fire resistance in continuous insulation is a multifaceted challenge, encompassing material selection, design innovation, rigorous testing, compliance, and recognized standards. It’s more than a mere requirement; it’s a responsibility toward the safety and well-being of the people who inhabit the spaces we build. The adherence to standards like ASTM E84 and NFPA 285, along with the mindful choice of materials, creates a continuous insulation system that meets the demands of today’s regulations and aligns with a holistic approach to fire safety. In the end, fire resistance isn’t just about survival; it’s about trust, assurance, and a commitment to standards that protect and preserve.

Section 6: Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of continuous insulation is an integral consideration in modern construction, reflecting a global commitment to sustainability. It’s no longer enough to build for today; we must also consider the legacy we leave for future generations. This section delves into the multi-dimensional aspects of environmental responsibility in continuous insulation, examining recyclability, carbon neutrality, conformity to the Declare Label, Red List-free status, Environmental Product Declarations (EPD), and contributions to LEED points.

  1. Recyclable/Repurpose/Biopolymer: Incorporating recyclable materials, re-purposing old components, and utilizing biopolymers are essential in minimizing waste. These practices reduce the environmental footprint and drive innovation in material science and engineering.
  2. Carbon Neutral/Net Zero ManufactureD: Achieving carbon neutrality or net-zero emissions in manufacturing is a significant stride toward mitigating climate change. It represents a holistic approach to environmental stewardship that looks beyond the building itself to the entire life-cycle of the materials used.
  3. Declare Label: The Declare Label is a transparency platform and product database that advocates for healthier building through ingredient exposure. Conforming to this label ensures that continuous insulation materials are transparent about their composition and environmental impact, promoting healthier building environments.
  4. Red List-Free: Being Red List-free means that the continuous insulation doesn’t contain harmful chemicals commonly restricted in building materials. This commitment aligns with a broader movement toward environmentally responsible building practices.
  5. Environmental Product Declaration (EPD): An EPD provides a clear and comprehensive analysis of a product’s environmental impact over its entire life-cycle. This data-driven approach fosters accountability and encourages continuous improvement in environmental performance.
  6. Contributes to LEED Points: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a widely recognized green building certification system. Continuous insulation that contributes to LEED points adheres to high environmental standards and encourages others in the industry to pursue these valuable certifications.

The environmental impact of continuous insulation transcends mere compliance with regulations, a reflection of a broader ethos of responsibility, innovation, and legacy. By embracing practices like recyclability, carbon neutrality, and transparency through Declare Labels, the industry demonstrates a multi-dimensional commitment to environmental stewardship. This is not merely a trend or a marketing strategy; it’s a comprehensive approach that weaves together science, engineering, ethics, and foresight. The result is a continuous insulation system that doesn’t just exist within the environment but actively contributes to its well-being and sustainability, a true harmony of form and function.

Section 7: Building Health

Building health extends beyond structural stability; it encompasses the occupants’ well-being. The role of continuous insulation in building health is substantial, with impacts ranging from moisture control to the prevention of mold growth. This section will detail the attributes that contribute to a healthier building environment, such as eliminating through-insulation and through-wall metal, 3-layer moisture control, mold-free design, uniform drainage planes, and no blind fastener holes.

  1. No Through-Insulation Metal & No Through-Wall Metal: The absence of metals that penetrate the insulation or walls prevents potential cold spots and condensation, contributing to a more consistent and controlled indoor environment.
  2. 3-Layer Moisture Control: Effective moisture management is crucial for preventing mold growth and maintaining the building structure’s integrity. A 3-layer moisture control system ensures that water is effectively channeled away, preserving both the building and the health of its inhabitants.
  3. Mold-Free Design: By employing designs that prevent moisture accumulation, continuous insulation helps to negate the conditions allowing mold to grow. This is vital for the health of occupants, particularly those with allergies or respiratory conditions.
  4. Uniform Drainage Plane: A well-designed drainage plane allows water to flow uniformly from the building. This helps prevent any potential moisture buildup that can lead to structural damage or unhealthy living conditions.
  5. No Blind Fastener Holes: Blind fastener holes can create pockets where moisture accumulates, leading to corrosion and potential microbial growth. By avoiding these in the design, continuous insulation enhances the longevity and health of the building.

The health of a building is a complex tapestry woven from the myriad choices made during design and construction. In continuous insulation, these choices manifest in innovative approaches that prioritize the well-being of occupants. Whether it’s a carefully engineered drainage plane or a considered avoidance of through-wall metals, each decision contributes to a living environment that’s not just safe but healthy. It’s a holistic approach that recognizes the building as more than a structure; it’s a living space where people grow, work, and thrive. Building health, as seen through the lens of continuous insulation, is a dynamic and intricate pursuit where science meets empathy, and engineering embraces humanity.

Section 8: Ease of Installation

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Ease of installation is a vital aspect of any building material, influencing not only the cost but also the quality of the construction. In continuous insulation, this ease is realized through careful consideration of the number of pieces per unit area, labor required, joinery methods, retention of insulation, and universal installation capabilities. This section explores the elements contributing to the ease of installation of continuous insulation systems.

  1. Relative Number of Pieces per Unit Area: By optimizing the number of pieces required per unit area, continuous insulation can be installed more quickly and efficiently. This design approach saves time and ensures that quality is maintained throughout the installation process.
  2. Labor per Unit Area: Efficient labor utilization is key to keeping costs in check and timelines on schedule. Continuous insulation systems that have been engineered to minimize labor per unit area can significantly reduce overall project costs without compromising on the quality of construction.
  3. Joinery/Interlocking Method: Using intuitive joinery or interlocking methods facilitates a smoother installation process. It enhances the structural integrity of the insulation system and ensures a secure fit, contributing to long-term performance and reliability.
  4. Retains Insulation: A continuous insulation system designed to retain insulation without the need for additional retention tools streamlines the installation process. By eliminating the requirement for extra tools or materials to secure the insulation, the efficiency of installation is significantly increased. This saves valuable time and minimizes the task’s complexity, contributing to a more robust and reliable insulation system that is quicker to install.
  5. Universal Installation (Vertical, Horizontal, Diagonal): Continuous insulation that can be installed in various orientations – vertical, horizontal, or diagonal – offers flexibility to adapt to different design needs and architectural preferences. This universal approach simplifies the installation process, allowing for customization while maintaining efficiency and effectiveness.

The ease of installation in continuous insulation is a synergistic blend of thoughtful design, practical innovation, and a profound understanding of the real-world demands of construction. It’s about more than putting pieces together; it’s about creating a system that seamlessly integrates into the larger building structure with minimal friction and maximal efficiency.

The design choices made in terms of labor, joinery methods, and orientation adaptability reflect a comprehensive view of the construction process, recognizing the nuances that influence cost, time, quality, and satisfaction. In the end, ease of installation isn’t just a convenience; it’s an essential component of a successful construction project, where continuous insulation plays a pivotal role in shaping not just buildings but the experiences of those who build them.


The comprehensive exploration of continuous insulation best practices reveals a multi-angled approach to construction, encompassing everything from structural integrity to ease of installation. Within this complex framework, SMARTciᵀᴹ continuous insulation systems distinguish themselves as the only continuous insulation systems that meet all eight best practices.

With GreenGirt® Composite Metal Hybrid (CMHᵀᴹ) sub-framing’s superior structural and thermal performance and SMARTci’s long-term thermal efficiency, these systems are more than aligned with industry standards; they define the standards. Offering a responsible and efficient solution to modern building needs, they stand as examples of quality and innovation in construction.

Ready to take the next step? Learn more about the unique advantages of GreenGirt CMH and SMARTci systems by visiting our website or contacting us today — experience excellence in continuous insulation with Advanced Architectural Products’ GreenGirt CMH and SMARTci systems.



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