If you have been researching the construction of a new home, you may have come across the term “Home Building Envelope” and wondered what they were talking about.
The building envelope is simply all the components of your home that work together to keep the outdoor environment from affecting the comfort and efficiency of the indoor living space. The envelope includes the walls, roof, basement or foundation, windows, and doors.
Inefficient building technologies and poor insulation will contribute to higher heating and cooling costs for the life of the home. The result will also be the potential for more dust, pests and moisture to enter the home.
Choosing the components of the building envelope are just the first step. All the components must be installed correctly and according to the manufacturer’s instructions in order to work properly. Installation details must reduce or eliminate air leakage. Components should also be constructed and installed to prevent water intrusion.
During design, manufacturing and construction, consideration is given to reduce thermal bridging. This is an area where it is easier for hot or cold air to move in and out. This may occur where wall framing meets, or where a wall meets a door or window. Any location that creates a gap may create a thermal bridge.
Structural Insulated Panels are a high-performance building system for new home construction. The panels are made with an insulating foam core sandwiched between two sheets of oriented strand board. The panels are pre-engineered and manufactured to fit the custom design of the home. The result is an extremely tight and energy-efficient system for the walls and roof of the home. Openings for windows and doors are pre-cut during the manufacturing process. Chases for electrical wiring are also done at that time. During construction, the panels fit together like a puzzle with all joints being sealed as they are put together.
The panels use little framing lumber which reduces thermal bridging and deliver excellent airtightness. Testing has proven that SIP construction is about 15-times more airtight than stick framing and this can be attributed to the continuous insulation and reduced thermal bridging.
A home built with SIPs will require the correct sizing of the HVAC system. It should be well-planned and provide an intentional path for air exchange rather than random cracks, gaps and holes. Often, HVAC systems can be downsized and ductwork can be minimized because of the efficiency provided by SIPs.
The bottom line extended to your bottom line. A new home built with EPS structural insulated panel will provide a building envelope for comfort, efficiency and long-term value.