Green building is a broad topic encompassing important design and construction goals such as sustainability, resiliency, net-zero energy use, low life-cycle carbon footprint, and healthy living. In general, these goals are attained by exceeding minimum requirements in building and energy efficiency codes with a view of a building as a system. Various green building certification programs exist to assist in defining various levels and means of achieving these goals including well-known programs like LEED (commercial buildings), NGBS (residential homes), and Fortified (disaster resistance). 

Whether seeking certification or simply applying green building principles to your building project, a high-performance building envelope provides the foundation needed to achieve the many facets and benefits of a green building. The following resources help set that foundation on solid ground.

Top Resources:

Robust building envelopes that meet the objectives of green building excel in addressing the following critical control layers, all of which can be achieved or enhanced by proper use of continuous insulation:

The design of these control layers determine to what degree a building envelope is durable and energy efficient. It also determines to what degree the indoor environment can be controlled or conditioned cost-effectively for healthy living, comfort, and resiliency in normal conditions and times of crisis such as severe weather events, disasters, and even pandemics. Finally, use of renewable energy sources (such as solar or wind power) to achieve net-zero energy use or a “carbon-neutral” footprint relies heavily on having a robust building envelope.

Practical Research

NIST Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF)

Designed and built to be approximately 60 percent more energy efficient than homes built to meet the 2012 IECC, the NZERTF is a unique laboratory at the National Institute of Standards in Gaithersburg, MD.

Design Challenges of the NIST Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility

This paper outlines the ten general principles for the design of net-zero energy capable houses and describes specific strategies and details that were used for the design of the Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF), a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) laboratory in the form of a typical residence for a family of four that was constructed on the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, MD. 

Additional Information

Sustainable Benefits of Green Building

The benefits of green building are many. Some benefits are even surprising. From acoustics that help create quiet in a noisy world, to safety and security to help families or business owners sleep more soundly at night—there are green building solutions that can help.

How to Prevent Energy Efficiency Unintended Consequences

Part 1 of a 3-article series
One baseball backstop supplier notes that it protects fans from stray or foul balls. In the realm of energy code compliance, a building envelope backstop is needed for similar reasons.

What Are the Pillars of a Sustainable Building Future?

Part 2 of a 3-article series
It is well known that buildings consume more energy than the transportation or industry sectors, accounting for nearly 40 percent of total U.S. energy use.

Energy Efficiency or Trade-offs - Focus on What First?

Part 3 of a 3-article series
A major benchmark is net-zero energy ready performance. This is best achieved by creating a building that is very efficient in conserving energy first.

DOE Tour of Zero

Zero Energy Ready Home is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings initiative. Take a virtual tour of homes that are so energy efficient a renewable energy system can offset all or most of their annual energy consumption. 

Safer, Stronger Homes: Reducing Your Risk During a Natural Disaster

This mitigation guide from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allows you to shop for specific disaster mitigation solutions and associated resources.

The Important Role of Energy Codes in Achieving Resilience

Community resilience focuses on deploying strategies that provide benefits before, during, and after disasters. The most commonly identified building-related strategies at the energy/resilience nexus have focused on passive survivability and reducing the urban heat island effect. While these approaches are a critical piece of the energy resilience nexus, they are not the only piece.

Resilient Design: Learning from Disaster

What is resilient design and what is required for a home to be resilient? One important principle of resilient design involves trading active systems for passive ones whenever possible. The building envelope plays an important role when the power goes out or heating fuel supply is disrupted.

Durability by Design

First published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 2002, this guide has consistently been one of the Department’s most popular publications. With this updated guide, HUD is offering new and refined guidance for designing durable homes for today’s housing industry—addressing critical topics, including water vapor management, envelope design, and natural hazards.

BSI-101: Rebuilding Houston

Building Science Corporation's Joseph Lstiburek looks at recovering from a "black water" Category 3 event through the lens of Houston after Hurricane Harvey.

ASHRAE Position Document on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

This position document makes the case that while reduction in building energy use and improvement in equipment efficiency have both improved substantially in the past 40 years, additional energy use efficiency improvements are not only achievable but often the most costeffective strategies in both new and existing buildings to achieve a more sustainable world.