Gimme a Thermal Break Dept: What Is a Cascadia Clip?

CC BY 2.0. Lloyd Alter

The City of Toronto Buildings Department cares a lot about green building and saving energy has a totally anal and over-the-top reading of the building code that says I have to build the side walls of my house out of totally non-combustible construction because I am so close to the lot line, and because I have a unit above a unit that somehow makes wood more dangerous. But steel studs are like a highway for heat, effectively carrying it from inside to out and turning your exterior siding into a giant flat plate radiator. You can fill your wall with insulation and call it R-30, but it won't be anywhere close because you need a thermal break.

cascadia clips on wall

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Enter the Cascadia clip. This clever little device, made by British Columbia's Cascadia Windows, is made of fiberglass, which is a lot less conductive than steel. The girt, a sheetmetal item that the siding is attached to, slots right into it. So when the insulation is applied to the exterior there is a complete thermal break between the exterior siding and the wall. The whole assembly went together quickly and gives me the break that I need.


© Cascadia windows

You can see the difference it makes in these thermographic photos.

This is what I really think is the definition of good green design. It is unobtrusive, it solves a serious problem, it is easy to use and quietly does its job really well. Hail Cascadia!