As home construction has evolved and buildings have become more and more efficient, we have been turning to high-performance windows that keep pace with our wall systems. Recently we built a certified-passive new home in Rhode Island, and despite being on a tight budget, we opted for triple-glazed vinyl windows produced in Europe. The trick was installing them properly as an integral part of our complex wall system.

The walls in this home were 12 inches deep, and the first question we faced was where within that wall thickness the windows would be placed. One consideration was aesthetics, of course. In addition, there were construction details that would need to be worked out. Locating the windows inward would require exterior extension jambs; locating them...

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