The toughest details are those that have to match up with someone else's work, or those done — even done well — when energy was really cheap. These details are a collection of some common — and tough — dovetails of existing work with retrofits or additions. Bear in mind that green remodeling means creating a new operating regime that is better, not worse, than the one that may well have been working just fine before. Integration of energy efficiency, moisture management, and indoor air quality is much more important and challenging in remodeling than in new construction.
Exterior Insulation Retrofit at Window Sill; 1 1/2-in. Rigid Foam
Great windows are only great if installed well
A good window installation converts a hole in the wall into an integrated part of all three important barriers that make up a wall assembly: the air, thermal, and water barriers.
Because all windows leak at some point, rough openings need to be designed to handle water entry. The rough sill should be flashed with either a pre-formed manufactured sill pan or a site-built pan.
This detail shows a site-built sill pan installed in a wall sheathed with rigid foam. The outside face of the foam is the wall’s drainage planePath that water would take over the building envelope. Concealed drainage-plane materials, such as building paper or housewrap, are designed to shed water that penetrates the building’s cladding. Drainage planes are installed to overlap in shingle fashion (weatherlap) so that water flows downward and away from the building envelope..
For more on windows:
GBA Encyclopedia topic page
Video Series: Flashing a Window in a Foam-Sheathed Wall
Just as with new walls, Green Building Advisor employs rigid exterior insulation for retrofitting. It gives great bang for the buck thermally (insulation and air sealing), warms the existing framed wall reducing the potential for condensation in the cavities, and makes continuous air and thermal barriers much easier than working from the inside.
Even the best window details can be hard to follow because so much depends on the sequence of installation. Use the GreenBuildingAdvisor window installation series along with these window details: