Envelope Optimizations: High Insulation

How can increasing the insulation of your envelope improve building performance? When does increased insulation not make good sense?

Insulation helps control heat flow across the building envelope.

  • In the summer, a well-insulated envelope ensures that warm, outside air does not significantly raise the temperature a building’s interior.
  • In the winter, a well-insulated envelope ensures that warm air inside the building does not escape to the outside.
  • Without a well-insulated envelope, building inhabitants in these scenarios would be forced to rely more heavily on energy intensive and expensive mechanical cooling and heating.

Note that “Envelope Optimization” does not necessarily mean “Add More Insulation”. There may be applications where heat flow across the envelope is welcomed.

Consider a building with a lot of activity and equipment, like a casino. All that activity and equipment stands to raise the temperature inside the building, making it uncomfortable for inhabitants and demanding increased mechanical cooling. Does it make sense, then, to proactively trap as much of that heat as possible inside the building by adding insulation to the envelope? Probably not! SmithGroupJJR used Sefaira's Response Curves to come to that same conclusion: https://vimeo.com/92957720

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