Feature Article

What Makes the Building Envelope Green? BuildingGreen’s Guide to Thermal & Moisture Protection Products

From insulation to flashing tape to cladding, we look at the attributes of the greenest building envelope products.

December 1, 2015

This special energy-and-moisture-focused issue of EBN features a downloadable product guide in place of the whole-issue PDF.

If the only time you think about insulation choices is when you’re figuring out how to meet code for your design, you’re missing the point.

The building envelope isn’t just there to hang the façade on. It makes the space a space—protecting us from the elements, enabling comfort, and ultimately allowing us to be home at home, to be productive at the office, to learn in school, or to heal in the hospital.

A building envelope should:

  • support comfort
  • not poison us or other species
  • 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. Fiber insulation, for example, provides a great opportunity to use recycled content or renewable, biobased materials. It insulates well, thus keeping us comfortable, and doesn’t use a persistent organic pollutant as a flame retardant, keeping these toxic substances out of our environment.