Building Envelope Facade Design for Sustainable & Energy Efficient Building

Building Envelope Façade

A building's envelope façade is more then skin deep.

The building's envelope façade design is a primary responsibility of the building design Architect.  

  • The façade provides the building's character and initial visual impression.
  • The façade provides rigidity to the building structure, and is the primary separator of the interior and exterior environments.
  •  The façade's function is to prevent water intrusion and air leakage, resist heat transfer, and allow or prevent sun light to enter when and where desired.  
  • The building envelope's façade performance has a major effect on:

  1. The building's energy use, 
  2. The indoor air quality, 
  3. The occupant comfort and safety, 
  4. The building's interior environment.  
  5. The sustainable building

The Architect, as a matter of the Standard of Care, must require full and effective performance verification testing for water penetration, air barrier design performance, and thermal leakage.

Blackburn Architecture works with the, building owner/developer, design Architect, Construction Manager, and the General and various subcontractors to achieve durable and high performance façades.

Façade materials range from ancient to the very newest.

The façade claddings are typically common materials of stone, brick masonry, cement stucco, wood lumber, plywood and OSB panels,  gypsum sheathing, metals, glass, and a wide variety of various composite materials.  To improve the façade performance, new materials are being incorporated into the façade's system design that did not exist in the recent past.  Air barrier products are a prime example of the newest façade materials.  Air barrier materials can be common construction materials as identified in the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), as well as new air barrier products developed to solely serve the air barrier function and purpose.  The 2015 IECC now requires air barriers in all climate zones, except zone 2B (only a few counties in southwest Texas).  Air barriers have been required in the northern half of the U.S. (climate zones 4-7) for over 20 years .

Façade performance must begin with the earliest design phase.

Architects select the façade materials and systems that provide the building's desired aesthetic appearance, detail the assemblies, and specify the various elements for performance. The performance for energy efficiency, strength and rigidity, water intrusion, air leakage, and thermal resistance are all critical for a successful façade design.  The façade should be generally aesthetically pleasing, perform to protect the occupants and contents, provide a safe and healthy enclosure, and be durable.  All of these requirements are also directly effected by how the façade materials are assembled and installed by a variety of construction trades, over which the Architect typically has little or no control.  It is because of this condition that QA/QC inspections and performance verification testing of the façade should be required in various specifications sections in the General Division 1, and Materials Divisions 7 and 8.


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Building Facade Performance