Come on! We can do better than this.Building "to code" only satisfies a minimum grade of construction. In other words, you can't build it worse than "to code". For people interested in lasting durability and reducing energy consumption, building exterior walls "to code" just isn't good enough today. There's nothing wrong with exceeding code, especially when it comes to the exterior wall.
Most people know that exterior walls are built from 2x4s installed every 16" then stuffed with fiberglass insulation. Unfortunately this practice still represents 90% of today's new home construction. But as homeowners become more motivated to find more energy-efficient solutions, this old standard is beginning to lose favor. So the question becomes, is this how you want to build your exterior walls? Let's take a look.
To begin, using 2x4s was "grandfathered" as an acceptable method of constructing exterior walls when building codes were first introduced. If a wood frame and fiberglass wall was submitted today, and had to satisfy the same stringent criteria of new products, it would never be approved. No testing agency would approve 2x4s knowing that wood shrinks, burns, rots, supports mold growth and frankly isn't all that strong. The quality and strength even varies from one 2x4 to the next.
RASTRA outperforms wood frame walls in every important category and exceeds today's minimum code requirements by huge margins. In fact, a RASTRA wall has been tested to be over 700% stronger than wood frame walls. RASTRA also outperforms wood frame walls in other critical areas including cost-of ownership, safety, service life, comfort, indoor air quality and resale value.
But increased strength and mass are important features of the exterior wall. A stronger, more energy-efficient wall built beyond code with RASTRA not only provides a safer environment for occupants, it reduces energy consumption by an average 50% and maintenance costs for the life of the property. There's only one reason to build exterior walls with wood and fiberglass - it's cheaper upfront - but much more expensive to own.
And as I have discussed in detail in other posts, fiberglass insulation just doesn't work as well as most people think. That's not my opinion, that's the opinion of the U.S. Department of Energy.
To reach our goals of becoming a less energy dependent nation and handing over a cleaner environment to future generations, the practice of building "to code" must be replaced with a more forward-thinking approach that provides stronger, safer, more durable green buildings. Not because we have to - but because it's the right thing to do.
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