Pushing the Envelope: Energy Efficiency in Building Design

Pushing the Envelope: Energy Efficiency in Building Design

Building design varies greatly depending on where you live due to climate and elevation level. The further you travel north or south, the greater variations in building design you will observe. Whether you reside in a hot, desert-type climate, or a freezing, wintery tundra, building practices and techniques will change drastically to accommodate unique conditions.

In particular, specific attention is paid to building envelope design – the physical separation between the interior and exterior components of a building.

Climate Control Building Strategies

Regardless of personal preference, overall climate patterns should be the final determinant for building design technique implementation. In order to increase efficiency of air flow and energy usage, specific architectural decisions must be taken into consideration, such as which materials respond best in certain climate conditions.

Single-pane windows, little to no insulation, and high air leakage will become obsolete as trends continue to gravitate towards sustainable, zero-energy buildings. Highly insulated windows, daylighting, and dynamic solar control are just a few of the widely accepted and preferred building components of modern architecture.

Heating and cooling costs, as well as energy efficiency levels, depend heavily upon the choices made during building envelope construction. Exterior walls, roofs, windows, and doors all play key roles in conducting energy throughout a structure and maintaining an even distribution of hot and cold air.

What comprises a building envelope? In general, the term refers to the separation of interior and exterior building components. More specifically, it includes physical resistance to air, water, noise, heat, and light. The functionality of a building envelope is encompassed within three categories:
1. Support
2. Control
3. Function

Pushing the Envelope of Energy Efficiency

The end goal of building envelope design is to achieve the “tighest” envelope possible; one with the least gaps and through which air can move most effectively to prevent excess stress on HVAC capability. Defined as a high-return, low-cost approach to increasing efficiency and sustainability, improving your envelope can be accomplished through methods such as increasing insulation, updating windows, and ensuring effective structural support.

Because envelope materials depend so heavily upon climate conditions, it is crucial to determine the most effective materials for your project based on location. Some common materials for rooves include composite, wood, asphalt, metal, slate, clay, and rubber. For walls, you may use anything from stucco or brick, to wood or vinyl. The foundational component can consist of concrete, stone, brick, or any mix of the three. Windows and doors have slightly more specific requirements and can contain a combination of aluminum, composite, wood, fiberglass, and vinyl.

Sustainability Doesn’t Just Mean ‘Green’

On a separate, but not unrelated note, one component often overlooked in the scope of sustainable building design is compliance with ADA standards and regulations. Exterior and interior building components must be sufficiently updated, not only to increase energy savings, but also to accommodate individuals with limited mobility. Barriers to access for disabled individuals are prohibited under Title III – ‘Barriers to Accommodations’ of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. According to this Act:
“[P]ublic accommodations include private entities who own, lease, lease to, or operate facilities such as restaurants, retail stores, hotels, movie theaters, private schools, convention centers, doctors’ offices, homeless shelters, transportation depots, zoos, funeral homes, day care centers, and recreation facilities including sports stadiums and fitness clubs.”

To ensure a sustainable approach in future building planning, compliance with ADA standards must be maintained and effectively implemented. America Training Solutions offers courses on improving sustainable building design with Barrier-free and ADA standards in mind, as the two concepts go hand in hand. The unique opportunity to gain ADA/Barrier-Free AIA and GBCI credits is available through local ATS Continuing Education seminars, webinars and online courses.

America Training Solutions Resources

America Training Solutions (ATS) is in touch with all the latest trends in sustainable building design, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Architects & LEED AP Continuing Educational and training resources from ATS span multiple platforms including online courses, webinars, and in-person seminars and workshops. Live seminars across multiple states address the latest in innovative building technologies, products, and techniques in professional and convenient locations.

Architects, designers, and LEED professionals can receive up to 8 AIA credits in one day-long seminar with the unique opportunity to ask questions and discuss projects and concepts with industry leaders.

Gain valuable insights and industry training while obtaining CEU’s and AIA CEU’s, as well as AIA, HSW, GBCI, LEED and Architect credits. Certain courses offered through ATS provide up to ​8 AIA HSW credits, up to ​8 USGBC/GBCI credits and qualify you for a State License​.

Check out our calendar of Architects Continuing Education Events and find a seminar near you!

ATS also offers FREE AIA Continuing Education online courses covering a variety of topics in design technique and building materials. Visit http://ATSseminar.com/ for more details.