AIA Building Envelope Forum Recap

  • Michael Dziubinski
  • Project Executive
  • Rafn Company

"Buildings are like mountain climbers: In order to remain comfortable and survive through varying climate conditions one needs to control temperature and moisture through control of one's exterior envelope. This quote was from Dan Whitmore (Hammer and Hand) at the recent AIA Building Envelope Forum at the Mountaineers Program Center in Seattle. The focus of this forum was on the building envelope's contribution to building energy usage. Highlights from the presentations I attended are as follows:


  • Glazing factors can remain high, 40% plus, with triple pane windows, shading, coatings, low voltage technologies, and money.
  • 5% to 25% of building energy use is related to skin.
  • Reduced electrical use from daylight is prime offset to added costs.
  • Some reduction in energy use from solar gain.
  • Winter heat loss and summer solar gain have major energy impacts.
  • Use passive shading first, mechanical and automated second.
  • Heat loss can be addressed with added panes and coatings.
  • Thin glass (i.e. that used on phone screens) looks to be a promising new technology for the inner of three panes.

Energy Modeling

  • Start planning early.
  • Implement through construction.
  • Validate after occupancy.

Super Insulated Wall Assemblies

  • High up-front costs.
  • Essentially wrapping your structural shell with another insulated shell.
  • A seven component assembly becomes a ten component assembly.
  • Fluid applied on exterior of structural sheathing is the air barrier, the dew point is outside of this.

Envelope Commissioning

  • Plan, implement, test.
  • Most buildings not hitting the code target of 0.4 cfm.

Net Zero Buildings

  • Bullit Center is performing beyond expectations : Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of 16.

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