Building Envelope

Photo by Andreas Lechtape, courtesy NBK Architectural Terracotta

OVERVIEW

The building envelope protects us from the elements, enables comfort, and ultimately allows us to be at home in our houses, to be productive at the office, to learn in school, or to heal in the hospital.

A building envelope—also commonly called a "building enclosure," should:

  • support comfort

  • manage moisture

  • not poison us or the planet

  • allow us to breathe clean air

When possible, it should do all this while using resources effectively—durably, energy-efficiently, and with low embodied impacts.

Here you’ll find strategies for envelope design and material selection that help balance all these demands and more.

  • Fundamentals of High Performance Building Assemblies

    Report/Course/Study Guide/Live Webinar

    BuildingGreen's four-part course, designed for architects and builders, provides methodologies for how best to design and manage these details and achieve superior performance—while avoiding expensive pitfalls.

  • The BuildingGreen Guide to Insulation

    Report/Course/Study Guide/Live Webinar

    The BuildingGreen Guide to Insulation provides detailed guidance on insulation products and practices, including cost comparisons and detailed recommendations on what insulation to use, and what to avoid.

  • Mind the Gaps: Making Existing Buildings More Airtight
    July 25, 2017

    Feature Article

    Leaky building enclosures create health hazards, comfort problems, and high energy bills. Fixing them isn’t rocket science; but you’d better know your building science.

  • How Six Affordable Housing Projects Got to Green
    October 6, 2017

    Feature Short

    Stories of designers and developers who overcame the challenges of building affordable housing that is also green, sustainable, and healthy.

  • Glass Façade with Vacuum Insulation
    October 6, 2017

    Product Review

    Sedak’s Isomax system incorporates vacuum insulated panels into insulated glazing units to create thin glass façades with improved thermal performance.

  • SonicLQ: Reconnecting Acoustics and Airtightness
    September 7, 2017

    Blog Post

    Early on in our work on energy-efficient homes, the connection between airtightness and sound centered on airport noise; now a new technology reconnects acoustics and air leakage

  • Pete’s Puzzle: Mold on Painted Clapboards is Food for Thought
    August 29, 2017

    Blog Post

    There is mold on the factory-primed, latex top-coated wood clapboards on the south but not the north side of our house

  • A New Halogen-Free Polyiso Insulation from GAF
    August 2, 2017

    Product Review

    GAF now offers a full line of polyisocyanurate foam insulation that is free of toxic halogenated flame retardants.

  • New York State Launches Initiative to Scale Net-Zero Retrofits
    July 25, 2017

    News Brief

    The state has budgeted $30 million to develop a self-sufficient, private sector-based market for deep energy retrofits of multifamily buildings.

  • Mineral Wool Batts Now Formaldehyde-Free
    May 26, 2017

    Product Review

    Thermafiber and Roxul have introduced the first formaldehyde-free mineral wool batt insulations, following the example set by the fiberglass insulation industry.