The evolution of the building envelope

evolution of the building envelope

The building envelope refers to all of the elements of the outer shell of a building and is what keeps us safe from the elements. Humanity has come a long way from our prehistoric days of structures constructed of boulders, branches and grass to complex building science that has us living in comfort today.


Residential Showcase Utilizes Sto Ventec Glass Facade

Architect's stunning new home in Virginia is the first to incorporate Sto Ventec exterior glass panels.

StoVentec Glass facades have been widely used in Europe for years, and are just now being introduced in the U.S. The product works well as both an external rainscreen cladding system, and as an internal decorative option.

StoVentec Glass is an advanced ventilated rainscreen cladding system consisting of a glass-faced composite panel, thermal insulation, and sub-construction. The result is an engineered, high performance façade with a sleek, elegant look.

Architect Jeff Davenport, a principal at Perkins & Will, chose such a StoVentec Glass panel system for his private residence on Lake Anna in Louisa County, Virginia. It is the first such installation in the country, and based on the stunning results, will most certainly generate future use of this versatile, highly functional product.

The contemporary plan initially called for metal panels, but the contractor on the project, Pillar Construction, suggested StoVentec Glass panels, which would provide better insulation and incredible aesthetics.  In addition to the advanced rain screen cladding with a back-ventilated system and air cavities for drainage, StoVentec Glass panels also offer thermal and sound insulation.

Opaque glass panels wrap around the entire entertainment, fireplace area as well as the garage façade.

Part of the Ventec manufacturing process includes the fusion of color onto the back of the glass. The color melts into the glass, creating permanent colored glass panels that will not wear, scratch, fade or incur water damage. Vivid colors and different panel size options are available, offering many aesthetic choices for either new-build or renovation, which you can learn about here.


Mineral Wool For Building Exteriors

Mineral wool insulated exteriors offer tremendous performance as well as a wide range of aesthetics.

Sto Product Manager Karine Galla recently penned a piece in Construction Specifier on mineral wool as an option to enhance the thermal performance of continuous insulation on a building’s exterior.  While mineral wool has been around for over a century, the article provides an overview on how the insulation is produced today and outlines its many attributes for exterior facades.

Mineral wool is typically made from a combination of melted volcanic rock and steel slag spun into a mass of fine, intertwined fibers. These fibers conduct heat very well, but when pressed into rolls and sheets they create an excellent insulator. In addition to its thermal performance, mineral wool also appeals to designers and specifiers because of its fire resistance. Since mineral wool insulations are naturally noncombustible, they will not burn or release harmful smoke and hot gases.

Mineral wool is also vapor permeable, with a vapor rating of up to 50. This means water vapor can readily diffuse throughout the material; it will not retain water. Since most mineral wool products are made from more than 50% post-industrial recycled content, and contribute so significantly to energy conservation, they are also considered very “sustainable”.

As a result of these performance virtues, mineral wool is increasingly used in building exteriors. Especially when builders are looking to mitigate fire risk, noise intrusion, and energy waste, as well as ensuring moisture control in an “all-in-one-solution”.

Mineral wool insulation has been widely used in industrial settings such as petroleum refineries and power plants, as well as for lofts, cavity walls, flat roofs and heating systems. It has also been used as an insulation layer behind various claddings such as curtain walls, rainscreen facades and exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS).

While suggesting that mineral wool products warrant consideration, Galla also outlines some of the product’s challenges and important factors to consider in designing a wall assembly with mineral wool insulation. These include: air and moisture control, detailing solutions at the joints and seams, making wind load calculations, ensuring fastener longevity, and determining impact resistance.


Winter is Here & StoPanel Can Help

StoPanel installation can save valuable time and money, especially in the winter months.

As inclement weather descends upon construction projects across the country, now is a good time to remember the incredible value of prefabricated, insulated exterior wall systems by Sto.

Because panel manufacturing is done off-site and indoors, there are fewer weather delays.  Because the time to install a panel system is far less than a conventional building envelope, it enables builders to better weather the winter months and make the most of their construction calendar.

Regardless of the weather, prefabricated wall systems can compress a construction schedule, and make for a faster build time.  In addition to saving time, lightweight, continuous insulation StoPanels can also save money.

There are countless testimonials and examples of how StoPanels have saved on construction costs and greatly reduced the time of building envelope installation.