May 14th, 2009

The Envelope, Please - Cost Effective Energy Savings in Buildings



First and foremost, green building needs to be about energy savings.   The Architecture 2030 challenge provides milestones for the reduction in energy use in new buildings and retrofit projects with the goal of zero energy buildings by the year 2030 -   The explosion of green building as a concept confronts reality in this challenge.  How will we actually build and retrofit buildings that produce as much energy as they consume?  The Architecture 2030 Challenge is the architecture community’s declaration of energy independence.  We do not have time to waste and civilization’s very existence may lie in the balance.  Sustainability is a real and pressing issue to you and your children. 


The Architecture 2030 Challenge energy savings goal is a 60% reduction in energy use for the year 2010.  That means that buildings you are designing now, or have already designed and are still yet to be built, are supposed to be 60% more efficient than a “code built” structure.  My assertion is that if you are going to say you are committed to green architecture, meeting the goals of the Architecture 2030 challenge should be priority number one.


How do we meet these goals without drastically increasing building costs?  Green building is integrated design.  Planning for energy efficiency from the ground up must be the cornerstone of green architecture for new buildings and major retrofits.  Starting with passive solar design, the integrated design of a house or building should prioritize building enclosure technology (thermal envelope), utilize energy modeling, and incorporate HVAC engineering.  Spending time and effort during design to implement energy saving measures creates value; i.e. dramatic results without extra costs.  If you are not energy modeling, you will probably not reach the project’s full potential.


I have chosen to focus professionally on thermal envelope technology.  The building enclosure has to be a major priority of your integrated design.  Solar panels and bamboo flooring are getting a lot of attention in the green building world, but reduction of energy loading is the bedrock upon which zero energy buildings will be built.   Give me the thermal envelope…..please.


, LEED A.P., assists architects, general contractors and developers in the creation of energy efficient buildings.  As Business Development Director-Western Region for kama Direct, Eric specializes in thermal envelope technology and building enclosure science.




Share and Enjoy:
  • Google
  • Digg
  • Reddit

2 comments to The Envelope, Please - Cost Effective Energy Savings in Buildings

  • My very message to clients — certified insulation/air barrier is both the least sexy and most crucial green thing you can do. Their reaction to that is how I gauge how serious they are about being environmentally conscientious.

  • This is the central green issue, not how many green applications we can graft onto a large and inefficient shell, but rather how we can plan for as little energy use as possible. In most temperate climates it is possible to create an almost entirely passive environment in a well conceived new structure. WIth careful planning, this can be achieved even in extreme weather conditions (see Amory Lovins’ Rocky Mountain Institute). The question I keep coming back to is that there are so many more buildings in existence than the number that we will build new. How we do this in urban renovations, where we have limited potential to orient glazing and in many cases, do not operate on the entire envelope? Are there retrofit air barrier techniques that do not require stripping every wall?

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Anti-Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree