If you’ve ever stood next to a window or door and felt a draft, then you’ve experienced “leaky” construction. In a leaky home the heating and cooling literally goes right out the window, but today’s builders are using science and technology to build more energy-efficient, air-tight homes.

What Is the Building Envelope?

The key components of the building envelope include the:

  • foundation,
  • floor systems,
  • walls (interior and exterior) and
  • roof system.

To better understand your home you have to comprehend the importance of the building envelope, which helps define the structural integrity of the house. You should ask yourself the following three questions about your home’s building envelope:

  • How does the house perform from a thermal standpoint?
  • How does it perform from a moisture-management perspective?
  • How comfortable is the home?

The thermal aspect of the building envelope plays a big role in energy efficiency. This means every quality envelope has to be sealed up properly and have a high resistance to the outside temperatures.

Traditionally, rolled fiberglass batt insulation is used in-between framing studs, but because the studs themselves provide very “little” insulation you still get what is called a cold joint. This means cold air can transfer from the exterior sheathing of the building envelope through the stud to the inside of the house.

Moisture, Moisture, Moisture

Air penetration isn’t the only concern when it comes to creating a tight building envelope; moisture is also a threat to any house. Many better builders create a draining plane on the exterior of the building envelope. Underground is a different approach.

When looking at the efficiency of your home’s performance, it’s not only from a structural integrity standpoint, but performance in terms of how the house behaves relative to swings in thermal temperatures, changes in outside conditions as it relates to humidity, rain, snow and all of these factors, which lead to a higher efficiency building envelope.

A quality building envelope results in a more responsible use of natural resources and cost savings to homeowners.