Building Envelope Retrofit: Transform Existing Buildings Into Top Performers

Building Envelope Retrofit

May 6, 2020


As demand grows for more energy-efficient and sustainable buildings, our Building Restoration team is shedding light on the opportunity to transform existing buildings into top performers by upgrading the building envelope.

What is the Building Envelope?

The building envelope is what separates the inside from the outside on your building, providing you with shelter and acting as a protective skin over the main structure.  The building envelope has great responsibility; it helps keep us warm (or cool), dry, can help control noise and odours from outside, provides safety and security, and it’s critical in maintaining good indoor air quality. It needs to do all this while creating curb appeal.

Components of the building envelope include walls, windows, doors, sealants, roof, insulation and air/vapour barriers.

Structural Benefits

Strong buildings require strong structures, and cladding is enormously important for any structure to remain resilient and long-lasting. Cladding acts as a protective guard to the inner layers beneath it. By reducing the occurrence of leaks and drafts, and providing durability in extreme weather, proper cladding on a structure will ultimately improve structural integrity and maintain resilience to weather and deterioration.

Building envelope retrofit project before and after

Multiple residents of the condos pictured above had been experiencing persistent water leakage into their units. The leakage was a result of the existing cladding and windows draining water into the walls, instead of directing it outwards and away from the building. The continuous water leakage caused structural damage to the frames, reduced the performance of the insulation in the walls, and caused mould at some units. Our team was able to work with the property manager to help the condo board understand the issues and develop a long-term solution. At these buildings, in addition to the structural repairs, the work included adding an air barrier, additional insulation, new siding, new windows and sealants.  We provided the design, specifications, construction and administration services for the project.

Energy Savings

A building envelope retrofit gives you the opportunity to add insulation and an air barrier to your walls, which improves thermal comfort and reduces drafts. By reducing the amount of heat loss, occupants and owners will benefit from reduced energy usage, lower electrical bills, and a reduced carbon footprint. This will also lead to a positive public perception by demonstrating a commitment to environmental sustainability.

When our team completed the full cladding retrofit for this condominium, the residents were able to pursue an energy saving rebates for reducing air leakage, increasing R-value increase and window upgrades.

Aesthetic Improvements

Added aesthetic benefits can also be seen when it comes to older buildings. An out-of-date design can be a major deterrent for buyers and renters. This is where renewing your building envelope can greatly enhance the overall appeal of a building by giving it a whole new look. Cladding can be made from all kinds of materials, allowing for some variety and creativity in either a complete design change or simply restoring a building to its former glory. Some common materials used include brick, wood, composites, siding, aluminum panels and stone.

If you are considering renewing your building envelope, we recommend getting renderings to help visualize your options and sharing those with those affected by the change.

Top Performance

Heating accounts for about 60% of your home’s energy bill. Typically, up to 25% of your home heating costs may be attributed to a poor air barrier and low-effective insulation levels. When upgrading your envelope, you can reduce energy use, make your home more comfortable year-round and lower your carbon footprint.

Despite age, imperfections, defects, poor construction, inefficient design or interior conditions, our Building Restoration team has the ability to transform existing buildings with deteriorated envelopes into top performers. Our versatile team of engineers are experienced in the completing building envelope retrofits for the purpose of achieving energy efficiency. We work with property owners and managers to determine the best solution to not only address a buildings’ specific problems, but to also achieve major energy savings rewards that occupants and owners can feel proud of.

To learn more about how our Building Restoration team can improve the performance of your building envelope system and speak to our team manager, connect with:

Author: Tania Krysa

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