The “building envelope” refers to the external walls, windows, roof, and floor of a building. This barrier plays a fundamental role in energy-efficient construction and can make a significant contribution to energy savings. A “tighter” envelope (i.e. one with fewer gaps through which air can flow) more effectively keeps conditioned air in, reducing the load on the HVAC system, and therefore increasing the efficiency at which it operates. Similarly, insulation helps slow the conduction of heat through walls.
Established energy-saving technologies with proven track records are available to improve the efficiency of the building envelope. These systems and materials are generally low-cost, high-return investments in the building’s service life. Incorporating building envelope improvements into the design or redesign process can reduce heating and cooling requirements, thereby reducing the size and associated first costs of HVAC systems while lowering energy bills and maintenance costs.
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