September’s Monthly Meeting: Building Envelope 101

September’s Monthly Meeting: Building Envelope 101

by Emily Liner – Risk Management Associates, Inc.

IFMA’s monthly meeting for September featured Principal Architect from The Freelon Group; Kevin Turner.  He implemented his time with our group to promote and encourage why it is important to care about the related science behind building enclosures and it is our responsibility as designers to understand the rapidly changing requirements among building codes. Mr. Turner started the session out discussion the importance of a building’s environment. In the United States alone, buildings account for 40% of overall primary energy used; and though most of us have always assumed that transportation was the main contributor, its not.  The history of understanding Building Science as been around since the cavemen. The thought is motivated from man’s desire to create a space that blocks and provide shelter inside from elements that are outside. Building Science is the study of the function of a building, the systems in the building and the occupants.

Mr. Turner’s main focus of the lecture was Building Enclosure Designs. By using a combination of engineering and scientific approaches allow us to learn about and improve the quality of a building from its design to occupancy. Through building science he educated us on the study of building designs can prevent moment of water from entering the building; it protects the components of the building and it limits the moment of heat from escaping or entering the building. The design of the envelope requires many intricate factors to ensure the desired levels of thermal diffusion.

His presentation also discussed how building code and industry requirements for building enclosures have changed over the last decade. The reasoning behind this is that the building envelope must represent a substantial percentage of a building’s cost.  The envelope is also an important system in determining the overall performance of a building; this is including emphasis on the thermal environment. Obviously, the balance between the cost of a building envelope and its levels of performance is a big importance in achieving the most cost-effective design of a building. In continuing his discussion on a building envelope importance; it must have other subsystems, such was walls, roofing and below grade to reach its functional performance for the thermal environment, moisture protection, sustainability and durability. Each subsystem should be designed to supply its functional effectiveness to meet the performance requirements for the whole building.

Mr. Turner was very educational to the whole IFMA group. It is unfortunate if you were unable to attend September’s monthly meeting.  In conclusion, the systems and elements of the envelope are one of the main parts in contributing to a building’s performance.  The envelope protects the other systems from outside elements, only allowing certain aspects of the exterior in and it coincidence with the other systems to achieve great performance as a whole and for the occupants.