What is the total building envelope?

26th March 2021

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In simple terms, the total building envelope consists of all exterior components of a building, from the roof to the walls also including any surface waterproofing and windows.

When considering these individual components, you may ask, what do they have in common? The answer is that should one single element of the total building envelope be incorrectly specified or overlooked it could result in moisture or air ingress into the building. Once moisture has entered the envelope system it creates a potential risk of dripping water or deterioration of structural components.

The total building envelope is said to be the most integral entity of a building.

As a result, the individual elements must be proven to be compatible with each other to ensure a weathertight seal to the elements. When designing, specifying or installing any element of the total building envelope special care must be taken to ensure the products selected function correctly for the application in question. The secret to a successful total building envelope solution, in terms of its function, buildability and aesthetic impact, is in the manufacturing methods and attention to detail to ensure precision and dimensional stability.

For new buildings, poorly specified building envelope solutions can allow water ingress from the outset, thus requiring significant effort and financial input to correct the deficiencies. On existing buildings where elements of the building envelope are replaced or refurbished, it is possible that water entering the building structure can go unnoticed for a long while causing building components to continue to deteriorate.

Even though the correct specification and detailing of every element of the total building envelope can prove to be an expensive and costly exercise, it has been proven the price to rectify problems of an inferior system after installation is a lot higher.

Correct specification costs out the price for remedial or rebuild works!