What Is a Building Shell/Envelope?

When you send something through the mail, you put it in an envelope to protect it. Your home has an envelope, too. The building envelope, also known as a building shell, isn’t made from paper — and you wouldn’t want to lick it — but it’s an extremely important component of the home that shelters you. The building envelope is comprised of the physical structures that separate the interior and exterior portions of your building.

What Components of Your Home Are Included in the Building Envelope?

The basic components of the building shell are the roof, walls, floors, doors and fenestrations. “Fenestrations” is a fancy term that encompasses windows, skylights, and any other openings in the building structure.

Why Is Your Building Envelope So Important?

Your building shell is what keeps your home comfortable, safe and dry, regardless of what’s going on outside. To perform efficiently, it must be carefully designed based on the climate in your area. For example, in the Cleveland area where the summers are hot and the winters are cold, your building envelope must keep out the winter snow and cold, as well as be capable of trapping your air-conditioned air inside during those sweltering August heat waves.

As you can imagine, leaks or flaws in your building envelope compromise its integrity. Using the wrong materials also can be catastrophic. A knowledgeable HVAC contractor will know how to ensure your envelope operates enough like a closed shell — trapping air inside — while also allowing for ventilation in select areas. This is a complex balance to achieve and very important to design a proper replacement heating and cooling system.

How Do You Know If Your Building Shell Is Doing Its Job?

Having a comprehensive survey performed is a good way to find out. A certified contractor can evaluate your home’s sources of heat loss and let you know if there are any areas where your building shell’s performance could be improved. Leaky windows and doors are a common find.

Contact P.K. Wadsworth to have your home evaluated by one of our comfort advisors so that you can understand how to get the best comfort and efficiency from your home.

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