Building Envelope

Photo by Andreas Lechtape, courtesy NBK Architectural Terracotta


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.

  • HydroGap Drainable Housewrap Doubles as Air Barrier
    February 2, 2012

    Product Review

    HydroGap housewrap creates a free-draining air space without fussy rainscreen detailing-and serves as an air and weather barrier too.

  • Combining High-Performance Windows with Insulating Shades
    November 1, 2011


    A manufacturer weighs in regarding excessive caution when using high-performance cellular shades.

  • High-Performance Exterior Doors: Raising the Bar
    November 1, 2011

    Product Review

    Most green building standards go easy on exterior doors, but a few companies are offering high-performing products.

  • Guide to Insulation Products and Practices Released
    October 20, 2011

    News Brief

    BuildingGreen's new guide provides detailed environmental and performance data on all the major types of insulation available today, including recommendations by application.

  • How R-Value Is Calculated
    July 1, 2011


    You know what R-value is, but how do they figure it out? And is it really a reliable measure of insulation performance?

  • How Insulation Works
    June 1, 2011


    Understanding how insulation works can help us find the right material for a particular project.

  • EPA Takes Action on Spray-Foam Health Risks
    May 3, 2011

    News Analysis

    EPA takes another look at spray foam after increasing consumer health complaints. The action plan leaves open questions about how far EPA will go to clamp down on these products, but it's safe to think of this as a shot across the bow from EPA for the SPF industry.

  • Key Energy Data Hit Hard by Federal Budget Cuts
    May 3, 2011

    News Analysis

    Followers of the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) have been rocked by two recent announcements about the state of the survey, a program of the Energy Information Administration (EIA) at the Department of Energy. The 2007 survey has been abandoned, and the 2011 survey is in question.

  • Spray-Applied Latex: A New Tool for Air-Sealing
    April 29, 2011

    Product Review

    Owens Corning's EnergyComplete and Knauf's EcoSeal are a new breed of spray-applied synthetic latex sealants for use in place of caulk or SPF.

  • EcoBatt Maker Sues over Biobased Binder
    March 30, 2011

    News Brief

    Knauf Insulation, the manufacturer of EcoBatt, is suing competitor CertainTeed for patent infringement.