Building envelope

(redirected from Envelope (architecture))

building envelope

[′bil·diŋ ′en·və‚lōp]
(civil engineering)
The interior, enclosed space of a building.

Building envelope

The entire outer shell of a building enclosed by its roof, walls, doors, windows, and foundation. The envelope can minimize temperature gain or loss and moisture infiltration, and protection from colder and warmer outdoor temperatures and precipitation, and it includes both an insulation layer and an air infiltration layer. It is a key factor in the “sustainability” of a building. Common measures of the effectiveness of building envelopes include protection from the external environment, indoor air quality, durability, influx of natural light, and energy efficiency.


1. The imaginary shape of a building indicating its maximum volume; used to check the plan and setback (and similar restrictions) with respect to zoning regulations.
2. The folded-over, continuous edge formed by turning the lowest ply of a built-up roofing membrane over the top surface layer; prevents bitumen from dripping through the exposed edge joints and seepage of water into the insulation.