Designs That Work House Plans are developed by BSC to be appropriate for residential projects in specific climate zones. They are fully integrated construction drawing sets that include floor plans, framing plans and wall framing elevations, exterior elevations, building and wall sections, and mechanical and electrical plans. Please note that house plans are posted as examples of high performance housing designs and are not to be used for construction. For more information, see the note on the title page of the plans.

Enclosures That Work are Building Profiles and High R-Value Assemblies developed by BSC to be appropriate for residential construction in specific climate zones.

Building Profiles are residential building cross sections that include enclosure and mechanical design recommendations. Most profiles also include field expertise notes, material compatibility analysis, and climate challenges.

High R-Value Assemblies are summaries of the results of BSC's ongoing High R-Value Enclosure research — a study that BSC has undertaken for the US DOE's Building America research program to identify and evaluate residential assemblies that cost-effectively provide 50 percent improvement in thermal resistance.

Guides and Manuals are "how-to" documents, giving advice and instructions on specific building techniques and methods. Some, such as the Review of Residential Ventilation Technologies, cover multiple examples within a general topic area. Others, such as the Guide to Insulating Sheathing, are focused on a particular concept and its applications. Longer guides and manuals include background information to help facilitate a strong understanding of the building science behind the hands-on advice.

In addition to these longer standalone guides, this section also contains two quick, easy-to-read series. The IRC FAQ series answers common questions about the building science approach to specific building tasks (for example, insulating a basement). The READ THIS: Before... series offers guidelines and recommendations for everyday situations such as moving into a new home or deciding to renovate.

Information Sheets are short, descriptive overviews of basic building science topics, from duct sealing to reservoir claddings. Through illustrations, photographs, and straightforward explanations, each Information Sheet covers the essential aspects of a single topic. Common, avoidable mistakes are also examined in the What's Wrong with this Project? and What's Wrong with this Practice? mini-series.
Information Sheets are useful both as an introduction to building science and as a handy reference that can be easily printed for use in the field, in a design meeting, or at the building permit counter.

Published Articles are a selected set of articles written by BSC personnel and published in professional and trade magazines that address building science topics. For example, our work has appeared in Fine Homebuilding, Home Energy, ASHRAE's High Performance Buildings, The Journal of Building Enclosure Design and The Journal of Building Physics. We thank these publications for their gracious permission to republish.

We are passionate about building science and welcome new opportunities to share information. If your publication needs content about energy efficiency, durability, or other aspects of high-performance building, please contact us at

Research Reports are technical reports written for researchers but accessible to design professionals and builders. These reports typically provide an in-depth study of a particular topic or describe the results of a research project. They are often peer reviewed and also provide support for advice given in our Building Science Digests. The most recent documents posted are at the top of the list below.

Conference Papers are peer-reviewed papers published in conference proceedings.

Building America Reports are sponsored by Building America, part of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek
For all that we know about roofs–which is a great deal–sometimes things can get confusing. I am more than partly to blame for that. I wrote a lot of the code language dealing with both vented and...
Building America Reports
Honorata Loomis, Betsy Pettit

This Measure Guideline provides design and construction information for a deep energy enclosure retrofit (DEER) solution of a flat roof assembly. It describes the strategies and procedures for an exterior retrofit of a flat, wood-framed roof with brick masonry exterior walls, using exterior and interior (framing cavity) insulation. The approach supported in this guide could also be adapted for use with flat, wood-framed roofs with wood-framed exterior walls. This Measure Guideline demonstrates techniques for retrofitting flat roofs from the exterior, which is less disruptive to the living space and allows the structure to remain occupied during the project. It also illustrates a solution for preparing homes to become zero energy ready.

Building America Reports
Aaron Grin, Jonathan Smegal, Joseph Lstiburek

Unvented roof strategies with open-cell and closed-cell spray polyurethane foam insulation sprayed to the underside of roof sheathing have been used since the mid-1990's to provide durable and efficient building enclosures. There have been isolated moisture related incidents that raise potential concerns about the overall hygrothermal performance of these systems. This project involved hygrothermal modeling of a range of rainwater leakage and field evaluations of in-service residential roofs using spray foam insulation. The exploration involved taking a sample of spray foam from the underside of the roof sheathing, exposing the sheathing, then taking a moisture content reading. All locations had moisture contents well within the safe range for wood-based sheathing.

Building America Reports
John Straube, Aaron Grin

The following report is an excerpt from the 2010 Building Science Corporation Industry Team Building America Annual Report. The goal of this research is to find optimally designed, cost effective roof insulation systems that can be included with other enclosure details to help reduce whole house energy use by 70%. This report will compare a variety of roof insulating strategies and present their advantages and disadvantages according to several comparison criteria.

Building America Reports
John Straube

The following report is an excerpt from the 2010 Building Science Corporation Industry Team Building America Annual Report. Many concerns, including the rising cost of energy, climate change concerns, and demands for increased comfort, have led to the desire for increased insulation levels in many new and existing buildings. Building codes and green building codes are being changed to require higher levels of thermal insulation both for residential and commercial construction. This report will review, and summarize the current state of understanding and research into enclosures with higher thermal resistance, so-called “High-R Enclosures.” Recommendations are provided for further research. For more information see High R-Value Foundation Assemblies and High R-Value Wall Assemblies.