WHAT IS A FULLY INSULATED BUILDING ENVELOPE?
Imagine a home that was so well insulated that all it took to warm up was the inhabitant's own body heat. Sounds like science fiction, right? It's not easy, but it is doable with a super-insulated building envelope. In the architecture, engineering and construction industries, the term "building envelope" refers to the everything that physically separates the conditioned interior space from the unconditioned exterior environment. The better insulated this outer shell becomes, the less energy will be lost.
To fully insulate the building envelope, we begin designing solutions long before the actual insulation is filled into the walls and roof of the home. We must evaluate the connections between all of the walls, floors, roofs and foundation to eliminate thermal bridging (Click to learn more). We also study the connection between windows, doors, and utilities to strive for air tightness (Click to learn more.) And we must be conscious to specify energy efficient windows (Click to learn more).
Ultimately, a fully insulated building envelope will dramatically reduce the energy wasted and led to a significantly more efficient home.
HOW DOES IT EFFECT HOME COSTS?
As we describe in further detail on the next few pages, a fully building envelope is a result of many smaller design decisions and construction methods. These include air tightness, no thermal bridging and energy efficient windows.
Many of these things are easier to achieve with prefabricated building methods like SIPS (structural insulated panels) or other panelized systems. Click through to learn more about each of these sustainable home design choices and their impact on construction costs.
Each of these choices will result in an increase in upfront costs. Yet, all of them will ultimately pay for themselves with the reduction in energy costs as a result.