Protecting the Building

Every building is protected by a building envelope. The building envelope separates the indoor environment from the outdoor environment. It is responsible for ensuring that the indoor environment remains comfortable and protected against damage. The exterior walls, windows, doors, as well as the foundation and roof make up the building envelope.

Purpose of the Building Envelope

The purpose of the building envelope is to protect the building from the outdoor environment. In order to protect the building, the building envelope must:

  1. 1. Prevent moisture from entering the building
  2. 2. Prevent air from infiltrating or entering into the building
  3. 3. Provide insulation to the building
Preventing Moisture from Entering the Building

The building envelope must prevent rainwater from entering the building since many building materials can be damaged or lose their effectiveness when wet. One prime example is that when insulation gets wet it is no longer as effective, resulting in excessive heat loss or gain. This can have a profound impact on the energy costs for the building since the furnace or air conditioning will need to compensate for this heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.

Moisture can also enter the building in the form of humidity. If moisture gets trapped between wall materials and is unable to dry effectively then mould growth will occur. Mould can cause both health problems for the occupants as well as severe damage to the integrity of the building materials which will need to be repaired.

Preventing Air Infiltration

Preventing air infiltration into or through the building is essential for three reasons. First, when it is windy and raining, the wind will create a pressure difference around the building which facilitates the entry of rainwater into the wall assembly. Secondly, since air usually holds moisture it can facilitate the entry of moisture into the wall assembly which, as discussed, can cause mould growth to occur. The third problem with air infiltration into the building is that if outdoor air enters the indoor space then additional energy is required to heat or cool the air as well adjust the humidity level.

Insulating the Building

Finally, the building envelope plays a vital role in maintaining the indoor air conditions. The insulation that is a part of the envelope prevents air and moisture from the indoor and outdoor environments from mixing. As discussed, this will prevent mould growth and reduce the energy costs associated with maintaining the indoor air conditions. The insulation of the building envelope also prevents the other building envelope materials from getting too cold which will prevent air from getting too cold and transforming into dew. When there is no dew, there will be no moisture, and thus no mould growth.

Building Envelope Design

The purposes of the building envelope show us that it plays an essential role in not only energy conservation but also in reducing potential damage to the building, and subsequent repair costs. It is thus important to ensure a proper building envelope design and construction.

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