Building envelope Print

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Design Checklist​

  1. Achieve a high level of construction quality in mixed use developments
  2. Enhance buildings’ performance and amenity for occupants
  3. Provide effective noise control to enhance the amenity, marketability, reputation and value of the development​


The building envelope is the skin of the building. It consists of the external walls, doors, windows, roof and lowest floor of the building. It has the important functional role of ensuring internal spaces are healthy and pleasant environments for the inhabitants, as well as contributing to the image and character of the building within the public realm.

The building envelope must balance ventilation and daylight requirements while providing moisture and thermal protection appropriate to the climatic conditions of the site. It is a major factor in determining the operational energy use, and therefore the lifecycle costs, of a building. The success of the building envelope depends upon the selection of appropriate materials and components, and how these are brought together. Also increasingly important today is the source and manufacturing processes of the materials involved.​​​

Better Design Practice

Provide a building envelope that ensures internal spaces are healthy and pleasant environments for occupants.

In response to the particular aspects of the site, provide an appropriate design and specification for the following aspects:
  • ​Passive solar design techniques
  • Weathertight detailing
  • Thermal insulation levels
  • Natural daylighting and shading
  • Natural ventilation
  • External noise control

Provide a positive image and character for the building within the public realm.

Coordinate and integrate building service elements such as drainage pipes, grilles, screens, ventilation louvres and car park entry doors with overall facade and balcony design.​

Through design of the building envelope minimise the operational energy use, and therefore the lifecycle costs, of the development.

Use durable, low-maintenance materials that are compatible with each other and will weather well in order to minimise maintenance costs. Avoid unnecessary external painting that will require regular maintenance.​

The success of the building envelope depends upon selection of appropriate materials and components, and how these are brought together.

Ensure a weathertight envelope and consider using cavity wall construction, even when not required by the New Zealand Building Code, to reduce risk of water damage over the longer term.
When designing for weathertightness considers the ‘four D’s’
  • Deflection – keeping the water away from any entry points.
  • Drainage – removing any water that does enter.
  • Drying – allowing any remaining moisture to be removed by ventilation or diffusion.
  • Durability – providing durable, low maintenance materials.

Design the building envelope to ensure a healthy and comfortable environment inside the building by:
  • ​Providing sufficient daylight access.
  • Allowing controllable natural ventilation through the use of adjustable vents or operable windows.
  • Insulating walls, floors and ceiling above minimum standards in order to reduce long-term heating and cooling costs.
  • Draught-proofing around external openings to reduce unnecessary heat loss.
  • Double-glazing external windows and doors to improve the acoustic and thermal performance of the envelope.
  • Providing an accessible connection for all occupants to their private outdoor space.​

Increase the efficiency of the building and reduce lifecycle costs.

This can be achieved using methods such as:​
  • Designing facades using environmental control elements such as sun shading, light shelves and bay windows that suit facade orientation.
  • Using high-mass elements to absorb solar gain during the day and release heat to internal spaces in the evening (elements must receive adequate direct sunlight).
  • Using green roofs to contribute positively to on-site stormwater management and to maximise the amenity value of horizontal surface such as rooftops and podiums.
  • Solar energy for water heating or electricity generation.
  • Choosing materials and colour that reflect or absorb radiant heat where required.

Ensure that the position and attachment details of building fixtures are considered in the early design stages.

Building fixtures such as TV aerials and sky dishes can compromise the building envelope in terms of weatherproofing and aesthetics. Incorporating equipment that is shared by all occupants will avoid duplication of equipment by individual occupants.​

Address noise control issues in the early design stages of the project.

Because noise is one of the most common adverse effects within mixed use areas noise control must be addressed in the early design stages of a project. Buildings should have entrances and exits, roller doors and lifts as far away as possible from bedrooms. The use of buffers and/or specialised technical solutions may solve noise problems that cannot be resolved by the layout of the development. Technical material solutions may include acoustic wall and floor systems, insulation, acoustic cladding panels, double-glazing and thicker window glass. High-mass construction (e.g. masonry and concrete), separated and/or staggered framing arrangements, multiple linings, and mechanical plant isolation can be highly effective at reducing noise transmission between different spaces within a building or development.​

Provide alternative fresh air sources when conditions may necessitate closed windows for noise reduction.

Where ensuring acoustic privacy necessitates the use of closed glazing, acoustically rated fresh air sources should be provided as an alternative to opening doors and windows for ventilation. This is particularly important where noise from traffic, hospitality uses, etc. prevents windows from being opened. This may also be a Unitary Plan requirement depending on the zoning controls on the site.​
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