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Building Envelope

Green HouseA building’s envelope is the main component used to seal the interior of a building from the exterior world. The building envelope plays a key role in maintaining the heating and air conditioning of a building. Air leaks due to a poor seal in the building envelope can account for up to 40 percent of the energy used in heating and ventilation of a building. That is why it is so crucial to make certain that there are no air leaks in the building’s seal. The two main factors for air leakage are through holes in building connections and air pressure.

Building joints, windows, doors, piping, wiring and ducts are the most common areas where a building can ”leak” and cause inefficiencies. The best way to overcome this issue is to make sure the building’s envelope is properly constructed and sealed from the beginning. This can be easily achieved by installing the sealant before the drywall construction.  A blower door test should then be performed to check for any possible air leaks.

The most common material for a building envelope is wood, such as plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). In some cases, volatile organic chemicals are added to the wood to help bind pieces for an airtight seal. It is important that these materials get covered or sealed by other building materials, such as drywall, to prevent air pollution. Through technological advances, some bonding materials are now being replaced by natural products, such as straw and bamboo. This can turn traditional organic material into a valuable commodity while offering a non-toxic, energy efficient, long-lasting product.