Building Envelope

Building Envelope

The envelope or shell of a building plays an integral role in its overall energy use. Primarily, the type of insulation selected and window fenestrations help protect the building from solar gain, heating/cooling loss, and allow for proper day lighting. The following consideration can be made.


  • Fiberglass Batt - commonly known at "pink insulation".
  • Cellulose - This is a more expensive application than standard batt insulation, but fills small cavities much better.
  • Foam - Commonly referred to as "spray" insulation, this method seals all cavities and creates a solid wall of insulation.
  • SIP Panels - "Structured Insulated Panels" are made by sandwiching a core of foam insulation between two structural skins. They are often stronger, more energy efficient, and cost effective.

Structure Type R-Value / Inch Sound Absorption Air Sealing
Fiberglass Batt 3.2 Average Poor
Cellulose 3.8 Very Good Good
Foam 3.6 Good Very Good
SIP Panels 4.5 Very Good Very Good

Window Fenestrations

Window openings allow for natural light, but also produce solar gain and heat loss. A balance must be achieved between R-Values, U-Values, and the amount of natural light desired.

Indicates a window's thermal resistance. It is based on a set of standards as outlined by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The higher the R-value number, the better the window resists heat.

The rate of heat loss is indicated by the U-value of a window. (opposite the R-value). The lower the U-value, the greater a window's resistance to heat loss.

Air Infiltration

Air infiltrating the envelope of a building can produce higher demands on heating and cooling systems while decreasing the level of indoor air comfort


Sound pollution can easily pass through walls, ceilings, and floors. Different types of insulation and building materials should be considered.


Selecting the proper insulation and determining the desired amount of daylight required can help achieve the following:
  • Decreased energy costs
  • Increased worker productivity (daylight and thermal comfort)
  • Decreased carbon emissions
  • Improved indoor air quality (moisture control)

Synergy with other sustainability areas

  • Energy efficiency
  • Thermal comfort
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“With its tremendously skilled, hard-working team, J.S. Vig Construction helped fulfill the vision that the City of Romulus had in mind when we set out to build the Romulus Athletic Center. Thanks to J.S. Vig, the Romulus Athletic Center is now a beautiful, award-winning and popular athletic facility that has become the jewel in Romulus' crown.”

Tim Keyes
City of Romulus
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David Esau, AIA, LEED AP
Cornerstone Design Inc
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David Zanely, LEED AP
Wilkie & Zanley Architects, A Sidock Company
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John Wilkie, AIA
Wilkie & Zanely Architects, A Sidock Company
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Trish Kalmbach
BOSC Equities
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Greg Heil
President, Heil Partnership
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Jerry Reinhart
President, Pomeroy Investment Company
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Kurt M. Sebaly M. Ed.
Pentickton Center for Blind Children
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Larry Reed
Metavante Corporation