Anyone who is responsible for paying the energy bill for a home or commercial building will agree that saving costs through improved energy efficiency is an idea worth pursuing. While there are many ways to achieve that goal, one of the most reliable approaches is to improve your building envelope.
In the simplest sense, building envelope refers to the separation between a building’s interior spaces and the outdoor elements. This includes all walls, windows, doors, insulation, and more. In this article, we’ll detail five excellent methods to improve building envelope so that you can be one step closer to making your building as energy efficient as possible.
Ensure Everything is Airtight
Even if you are a novice when it comes to building envelope, you likely understand that drafty windows and doors are detrimental to your efforts to heat and cool your home to your desired temperature in a cost-effective way. The more gaps and cracks that exist in your building envelope, the greater that issue will become, which is why our first method for improving your building envelope is to ensure that it is as airtight as possible.
This process begins with evaluating how much air your building allows to pass through. Drafts will be most noticeable where there are natural openings in your building envelope, such as doors and windows.
At times, it may be necessary to replace windows and doors that allow too much air to pass through. In other instances, a strategic application of calking will be enough to reduce drafts. But no matter how you choose to accomplish this objective, making sure your building envelope is airtight is a fantastic place to begin.
Update Your Insulation
Insulation is something that most home or building owners don’t spend much time thinking about. However, as is true of almost all building materials, the insulation in your walls has a natural lifespan. Once that lifespan has concluded, your insulation will no longer be as effective at contributing to your building envelope as it once was.
The length of time that your insulation will last depends on the type of insulation you have. However, if it has been over ten years since you last checked your insulation, the chances are that you will need to update it.
Length of use is not the only factor to consider when evaluating the state of your insulation. It is also important to look out for any signs of damage that pests or the elements may have caused, as well as any gaps in your insulation that you should fill in.
Build with Thicker Framing
This next method for developing an improved building envelope is not one that you can use for an existing building. Instead, it is an approach that you can employ when building a new building or an addition.
Interestingly, the size of framing you use to construct the walls of a new building has a surprising effect on the quality of your building envelope. While it is perfectly acceptable to build using 2×4 framing, upgrading to a thicker size, such as 2×6, leads to better overall energy efficiency for your building.
Part of the reason why thicker framing makes for a better building envelope is that it increases the thickness of your entire wall. A thicker wall provides a larger space that you can fill with more insulation than you would be able to fit in a wall made of 2×4 frames.
Apply a Thermal Barrier Coating
Another incredible way to improve building envelope is by applying a thermal barrier coating to your building’s exterior. Thermal barrier coatings are essentially an invisible layer that protects the inside of your building from the extreme temperature changes that can take place outdoors.
Amazingly, thermal barrier coatings also have other benefits for your building envelope. For instance, they can also help to reduce and prevent corrosion, which ultimately allows your building to have greater longevity along with being more energy efficient.
The best thermal barrier coatings are the ones that you can apply to many different materials, including wood, metal, glass, masonry, concrete, and more. Additionally, you’ll find that top-quality thermal barrier coatings are also environmentally friendly and do not affect the air quality within your building.
Consider a Green Roof
Our final method for improving building envelope may not be accessible to all, depending on the style of roof that you have. However, if you do have the opportunity to incorporate a green roof into your building’s design, doing so can make your building envelope that much better.
Green roofs have grown immensely in popularity over the past decades and for a good reason. Not only do green roofs help mitigate stormwater runoff and introduce more beneficial plants to urban and suburban landscapes, but they also help to mitigate the effect of extreme temperature changes.
A traditional roof often absorbs a significant amount of heat from the sunlight that hits it into your building. By contrast, the plants that comprise a green roof reflect a significant amount of sunlight while also absorbing it for photosynthesis rather than allowing it to enter your building.
Why Is it Important to Improve Building Envelope?
You now know a few of the best methods to improve building envelope. However, it is also important for you to understand why building envelope is so important in the first place. As this article makes clear, a quality building envelope makes your building more energy efficient, which, in the long run, allows you to save on energy costs, sometimes to a significant degree.
Additionally, a good building envelope will also help to protect the physical components of your HVAC system. When an improved building envelope protects HVAC equipment from sunlight and extreme heat, that equipment has the opportunity to run more efficiently while placing less stress on its underlying mechanical systems. This further adds to the energy efficiency of your HVAC system and will help it make it last longer as well.
As such, finding ways to improve building envelope is something that every building owner should consider. Using the five methods we described above is a perfect way to start. Need a thermal barrier coating to improve your building envelope? Click here to get in touch with a ThermaCote distributor today.