Building Envelope Components

The building envelope is the structure that separates the building occupant from outdoor conditions. It's a major factor in determining a building's energy use. The components that make up a building envelope include:

  • Fenestration: Windows, Doors and Skylights

  • Insulation

  • Foundation

  • Wall Systems

  • Roofing

Innovative building envelope technologies currently under development will make tomorrow's buildings more efficient, durable, comfortable, and adaptable than ever. It's also important that these materials and products ultimately complement your whole-building design approach.

The Building Envelope and Whole Building Design:

Whole building design treats the building as an integrated system rather than as a series of independent components. Building design that emphasizes how a building interacts with its systems, activities, and surrounding environment optimizes overall energy efficiency and occupant comfort. A whole building design approach to selecting envelope systems and materials would consider various foundation, roofing, and insulation materials as well as the recommended R-value for the building's location. A building designer with a whole building approach would also consider the impact of various envelope choices on other building components such as the heating, cooling, and ventilation systems.

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Figure 3: The building envelope separates the outside from the inside.

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