A building envelope is the component that separates the exterior of the building from the interior. It’s the shell of the building, and as such, it is a key consideration when constructing. It affects the ventilation, climate, energy consumption and protection of occupants and interiors.
The envelope really serves three basic functions for the overall needs of the building:
1. Structural Integrity
The building envelope is responsible for holding the building together in more ways than one. The foundation, roof, walls, windows and doors are all considered part of the building envelope, and they contribute to keeping it structurally sound. Many envelope systems and materials are tested in a laboratory for structural performance prior to being used in certain climates and conditions.
2. Moisture Protection
The building envelope keeps outside elements, such as moisture and humidity, from entering and causing major damage. Envelope components are designed to prevent water leakage or infiltration to the interior by systems such as:
A barrier system which is designed to repel and shed water at the outermost surface.
A drainage system which is designed to absorb water but provide a means of drainage for it to exit once it enters.
Diversion systems such as gutters, downspouts, flashings and drainage mats which diverts water to proper locations.
3. Air Management
The building envelope is also essential for controlling the air that flows in and out of a building. If not properly controlled, air flow turns into moisture which in turn damages interiors. Air infiltration from the envelope can be minimized by properly specifying and designing air and moisture barriers, insulations and sealants. Controlling air ultimately leads to energy savings and reducing moisture problems within the envelope.
If you believe there is a flaw with your building’s envelope, whether it’s a commercial or residential property, contact the pros at GCI Consultants: 866.425.5238