5 Purposes Of A Building Envelope


A building envelope is one of the most important parts of any building design. It plays a number of critical functions, and without a sturdy building envelope, your property could face problems further down the line.

But what is a building envelope?

Well, if you’re currently working on a building project, you really need to understand this concept. Below, we’re going to take a look at what a building envelope is and its five key purposes. This can help you to understand just how vital a role it plays in the construction of your property.

What is a building envelope?

A building envelope is a protective seal around everything and everyone inside your structure. It acts as a barrier between the interior and the exterior of your property.

Its role is to maintain and protect the structure and help to regulate the building – but we’ll look at this in more detail shortly. This is why every property must be designed and constructed with the building envelope in mind.

But the term building envelope is actually very broad; what does it include?

There are several key components that help the envelope to perform its various functions. When we use the term building envelope, we are referring to the following aspects:

  • The foundation – such as slabs and footings
  • The walls – both interior and exterior
  • The roof
  • Windows
  • Floors
  • Doors
  • Damp-proof courses
  • Guttering and drainage

These are some of the most basic but crucial parts of any property. If any part of the building envelope is incorrect, this can lead to leaks, dampness, draughts and lots of other issues.

What is the purpose of a building envelope?

We’ve briefly touched on the role of a building envelope for maintenance and structure. However, the role goes much deeper than this.

The building envelope actually regulates so many factors inside the structure that make it inhabitable. It can also impact the overall style of the home, the cost of utilities and more. Below, we’ve pulled together a list of five of the main purposes of a building envelope. These include:

1. Supporting the property

Without strong structural support, buildings are not safe and they certainly won’t stand the test of time. Given that the building envelope incorporates the foundations and walls, it’s vital for the overall structure of your property and to ensure that it can handle external loads and forces whilst keeping everything inside safe.

This means walls must be load-bearing, and the foundations must meet all building codes and regulations to ensure it is safe to inhabit.

2. Controlling the climate

A good building envelope needs to prevent the transfer of heat during the winter and also keep the building cool during the summer. In order to do this, it must facilitate the passing of heat and condensation through the interior and exterior of the building.

This is a critical purpose of the envelope; otherwise, the property can be tougher to live in. It could also be subject to dampness and mould. To control the climate, the envelope must be the right level of airtight. This means it cannot be too tight or too loose.

3. Making the property more energy efficient

As we’ve mentioned above, climate control is a key function, and this will impact how energy efficient your property is. Envelopes that let too much warm air escape can cost a lot more to heat during the colder months and are far less efficient.

The same rules apply to keeping it cooler in the summer for those using air conditioning or fans to cool the space.

Nowadays, lots of buildings are being constructed or renovated with energy efficiency in mind, helping to cut costs, make it easier to regulate the climate and be kinder to the planet.

4. Creating a nice aesthetic

The building envelope will also play a part in the overall look and feel of the property. A strong and well-designed envelope will help to make the building look more attractive.

Although this may be one of the less important functions of the envelope, aesthetics must be kept in mind during the design and construction process.

5. Keeping the noise out (or in)

Finally, a building envelope not only regulates the climate, but it’s also there to offer comfort to the occupants. This means it needs to be insulated not just against the weather but also any external sounds.

Therefore, during the insulation phase of the construction, acoustics must be taken into account. The property must be able to keep noise out as well as in so as not to annoy any neighbouring properties.