A high performance envelope (exterior shell) is only achievable in a cost-effective way during the original design and construction process. The building envelope, or enclosure, is the physical separation between inside and outside, made up of:

  1. Foundations
  2. Walls
  3. Windows, Doors and Skylights
  4. Roofs and Attics

It is possible to upgrade windows, seal leaks, and add insulation later, but after-the-fact envelope fixes are far more expensive and difficult than doing it right from the start. Some decisions, like the direction the building faces and the wall type, are for the life of the building. The financial rewards for careful design  and construction are long-lasting. An efficient envelope design can cut the average cost of operating a building in half. Designing for efficiency also saves money up front, because it reduces heating and cooling loads and allows smaller HVAC equipment to be installed.

This fact sheet provides an overview of the most important factors to be aware of when working with an architect on a building envelope.

Read our Energy Smart Tip