Travis Avenue Apartments

The Importance of the Building Envelope

The role of the building envelope serves a greater purpose beyond aesthetics; it is key to the performance of the design in terms of energy codes and efficiency.

Because it is the barrier from exterior elements such as rain, wind and heat, the envelope must be composed of carefully selected materials whether pre-determined (the ones we know work) or a newer type of technology which all comply with building codes and regulations.

Each component of the envelope including the roof, walls, and foundation, faces different challenges in terms of the elements. It must achieve the important functions of structural support, temperature regulation, air flow and moisture management. The envelope poses a high-risk on a project given that the inadequacy of it can occur in both the design and the installation.

A successful building envelope yields many benefits including minimum energy consumption and cost, visual and acoustic comfort for the inhabitants, and an overall sustainable design.

Building Envelope Technologies

There are several technologies at play when designing the envelope. A pre-fabricated single-source façade system is an example of one of these technologies. The components are manufactured at one facility and pre-assembled, meaning easier installation and only one source of warranty if needed. Along with the easier installation, and a reduced risk, there are other positive attributes such as energy efficiency, versatility in appearance, and an increased schedule time.

Another new technology, which is a system we are incorporating into our projects, is a type of “smart frame” composed of T-studs.  The T-stud consists of two lumber members with an internal truss system (made from dowels) followed by a poured in place, closed cell foam. This allows for the consistency of the ambient temperature via a thermal break between interior and exterior elements, and in the long run, reduces the carbon footprint and yields a sustainable building envelope.

At TMA-CHA Architects, we’re constantly working with eco-friendly solutions that allow property owners to reduce their costs while saving energy. If you’d like more information, please contact Megan Barbee at