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. Each year, about 1.5 quads of energy is lost through walls in commercial buildings in America. Fortunately, there exist wall assemblies that are more energy efficient than traditional solutions. 

Building Envelope Team: View Main Page
Addressing the Envelope - Recognizing Building Enclosure Improvements: View Webinar

Featured Solutions

Air leakage accounts for about 6% of U.S. commercial building energy use. LIQUIDARMOR CM, a spray-applied sealant and liquid flashing, improves the performance of air barrier systems by simplifying the installation procedure. According to simulation results, HTC lowered its annual heating and cooling cost by 9% compared to a similar building that lacked an air barrier system.
This case study shows how sprayable sealants are an innovative alternative to conventional tape and are an effective way of providing moisture and air sealing protection in commercial buildings.
This case study shows how the primer-less self-adhered membrane developed by 3M, serves as the air, liquid water, and water vapor barrier and adheres to most construction materials without a primer.
This toolkit features webinars presented by the Better Buildings Alliance and Oak Ridge National Laboratory that focus on advancing the latest innovations for walls in commercial buildings.

Other Resources


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

Case Studies

From Whole Building Design Guide, a review of problems created by infiltration and exfiltration in buildings, and the design considerations of an air barrier system to control the problems.
Fresh air is vitally important in commercial buildings as well as in our homes. Concern is often expressed that recently introduced energy code provisions are promoting the construction of buildings that are too tight, leading to potential problems with indoor air quality and building materials degradation.
This Sasha Bruce Youthwork home marks the first group home retrofit project to be featured by Building America. Retrofit measures included high efficiency air source heat pumps, duct sealing, building envelope air sealing, selective window replacement, increasing ceiling insulation, high efficacy lighting, lighting controls, and ENERGY STAR appliances.
The research described in this report identified air leakage pathways in a low-rise, multiunit building type commonly found in mixed-humid climates. The report recommends corrective actions for cost-effectively remediating this leakage.

Fact Sheet

This fact sheet explains how insulation works, what different types of insulation are available, and how much insulation makes sense for different climates.

Additional Information

Whole Building Design Guide
This Resource Page covers basic concepts for specifying window and glazing systems, particularly energy-efficient windows.

Air Barrier Association of North America (ABAA)
ABAA is a national, not-for-profit trade organization dedicated to education and outreach, technical standards and quality assurance for the air barrier industry.

Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA)
MBMA provides leadership, research, and education that increase the prominence and usage of metal building systems as the premier solution for performance, aesthetics, and sustainability in building construction.

Structural Insulated Panel Association (SIPA)
SIPA is a non-profit trade association representing manufacturers, suppliers, dealer/distributors, design professionals, and builders committed to providing quality structural insulated panels for all segments of the construction industry.

New Buildings Institute
NBI assesses technologies, promotes design approaches, and helps guide policies and programs that will significantly improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings.

Green Proving Ground - GSA : Building Envelope
The Green Proving Ground program has commissioned Department of Energy National Laboratories to perform real-world measurement and verification of the following technologies in pilot installations in federally-owned buildings. 

American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
ASHRAE and its members focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability within the industry. 

Sector Priorities

Meet the Technology Expert