EIFS was developed in Europe after World War II and was initially used to retrofit solid masonry walls. EIFS started to be used in North America in the 1960's, and became very popular in the mid-1970's due to the oil embargo and the resultant surge in interest in high energy efficiency wall systems (such as EIFS provides). In North America, EIFS were initially used exclusively on commercial buildings. As the market grew, prices dropped to the point where its use became widespread on normal single family homes. The use of EIFS over stud-and-sheathing framing (instead of over solid walls) is a North American technique. EIFS is now used all over North America, as well as in many others areas around the world, especially in Europe and the Pacific Rim.
In the late 1980's problems began developing when attention to details was lacking in areas where water can penetrate the system (i.e. around windows and doors). The EIFS industry found that the EIFS itself was not leaking, but rather most problems where due to a lack of attention to details at the perimeter of the EIFS. In conjunction with the building codes, the EIFS industry developed drainage systems and mandated an independent EIFS inspection. The 2009 building code will incorporate EIFS drainage systems into prescriptive method construction and an independent inspection will no longer be necessary.
Test done by Oak Ridge National Labs in coordination with EIMA (EIFS Industry Manufacturing Association) have found EIFS to be superior among all exterior veneers including brick and stone. Oak Ridge National Laboratory states, "EIFS outperformed all other walls in terms of moisture while maintaining superior thermal performance."
For more information on this study, please see the links below.