Building Envelope

Building Envelope

The building envelope, which includes the walls, windows, roof, and foundation, forms the primary thermal barrier between the interior and exterior environments. With envelope technologies accounting for approximately 30% of the primary energy consumed in residential and commercial buildings, it plays a key role in determining levels of comfort, natural lighting, ventilation, and how much energy is required to heat and cool a building. Members of the Building Envelope Technology Research Team collaborate with DOE's national laboratories to deploy high performance envelope design solutions for space conditioning load reduction and to facilitate the construction of durable and high performing envelope technologies.

Building Envelope Subgroup: Windows
Building Envelope Subgroup: Walls
Building Envelope Subgroup: Roofs
Building Envelope Tech Team Webinar: Energy Savings Impact of Airtightness in U.S. Commercial Buildings: View Recording and Slides
Events Calendar

Better Buildings partners participate in webinars, peer-exchange calls, meetings, and industry workshops and conferences. Browse upcoming events and opportunities to participate by month.

Get Involved

The Building Envelope Team collaborates with researchers and industry experts to promote awareness and energy reduction through new technologies. Contact the Better Buildings Alliance to learn how you can get involved. 

2019 Summit Presentations are Live

Slide decks from the 2019 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit sessions are now available to download and share. 

Featured Solutions

Windows Resources Technology Info Suite
Recent advances in window technologies for both reductions in conduction loses and solar gains can help in tremendous energy savings in commercial buildings.
Walls Resources Technology Info Suite
Exterior walls are the major components of the building envelope. By being a barrier between the interior and the exterior environments, walls need to have features that minimize the energy losses while maintaining durability.
Roofs Resources Technology Info Suite
Roofs are another source of building energy loss, but roofing design and materials can help to reduce the amount of cooling required in certain climates by reflecting solar heat rather than absorbing it.
Air barrier solutions, like sealants, membranes, spray foams, and sheathings, are key to addressing air leakage in commercial buildings, which can account for about 20 percent of the total energy used to heat and cool buildings. During this Building Envelope Tech Team Meeting, the team discussed current practices in measuring air leakage and explored technical resources to support application of advanced air barrier technologies.
Recently Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), in partnership with the Department of Energy, verified the performance of LIQUIDARMOR™ CM with field tests and energy simulations from a building in which LIQUIDARMOR™ CM was a component of the air barrier system.
The Envelope Technology Research Team hosted a Virtual Technology Showcase. During this 60-minute webinar Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) hosted industry experts to present on window shading attachments, air barrier technologies, and resources for building enclosure commissioning.

Other Resources


This online calculator estimates the potential energy and cost savings from improvements in air tightness.


This webinar was the inaugural meeting of the new Building Envelope Tech Team.


Meet the Technology Expert

Melissa Voss Lapsa leads the Better Building Alliance’s Envelope Technology Research Team. As the Director of Building Technologies Research and Integration Center (BTRIC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Melissa brings 22 years’ experience at conducting market research, policy analysis, and behavioral research. She also leads ORNL’s Sustainable Campus Initiative, whose goal is to integrate energy and resource efficiency, cutting-edge technologies, operational and business processes, and institutional behavior to achieve sustainability at work, home, and in the community.