Thermal Bridging – Reading List


Aqua_Tower_Chicago-detail2-sq-optThermal bridging occurs when heat passes over or through insulation by traveling along a more conductive part of the assembly, for example a steel stud. Heat loss due to thermal bridging can be significant. The problem of thermal bridging still unfortunately exists in many projects, although it has become much better-known and good solutions are available.

The reading list below is intended to provide a general introduction to this topic. We will continue to update and add to it. If you find a broken link or would like to suggest something to add, please contact us.

Top 5 Things to Read:

#1: BSD-011: Thermal Control in Buildings
John Straube,
This Building Science Digest provides a concise summary of how heat flow is controlled (or not) in buildings. Topics include thermal bridging as well as air leakage, heat loss to the ground, and other basic mechanisms.

#2: BSI-005: A Bridge Too Far
Joe Lstiburek,
This Building Science Insight focuses specifically on thermal bridging and describes common problems in commercial and multi-unit residential buildings with Joe’s trademark wit.

#3: Canadian Building Digest No. 44: Thermal Bridges in Buildings
W.P. Brown and A.G. Wilson,
A classic 1963 work that maintains its relevance today.

#4: RR-0901: Thermal Metrics for High Performance Walls—The Limitations of R-Value
John Straube,
An advanced look at how R-values are calculated and some of the misconceptions that can result. Discusses different variations on the R-value (installed, clear-wall, etc) and the fact that most of them do not account for thermal bridging.

#5: Thermal Performance of Building Envelope Details for Mid- and High-Rise Buildings
Mark Lawton, Patrick Roppel, and Wahid Marif, Morrison Hershfield,
This report was for ASHRAE Research Project 1365, which aimed to develop better tools for building designers to estimate the thermal performance of a building enclosure. There is also a fun and informative video explaining the basic points of this research on

Other Research Papers and Reports

Thermal Metric Summary Report
Building Science Corporation (2013),

Heat and Moisture Control Considerations with Steel Framing in Low-Rise Residential Construction
Eric Burnett and Robert Bombino (2012),

Thermal Impact of Fasteners in High-Performance Wood-Framed Walls
Dane Christensen (2010),

Thermal Bridging from Cladding Attachment Strategies Through Exterior Insulation
James Higgins, Colin Shane, and Graham Finch (2014),

Improving Energy Performance of Steel Stud Walls
Jan Kosny, Jeffrey E. Christian, and André O. Desjarlais (1999),

Thermal Bridging: It Can Be Done Better (JBED Winter 2013)
Various authors (2013),

Other General Resources

Building Envelope Thermal Bridging Guide: Analysis, Applications & Insight
Morrison Hershfield,

What is Thermal Bridging? Why R-19 is never R-19
Erik North (2013),

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