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Building Envelope Technologies Subprogram Area

Within the Emerging Technologies research portfolio, building envelope technologies have substantial potential to reduce energy consumption in buildings. The goal of the opaque envelope subprogram is to develop next-generation opaque envelope technologies that have substantial potential to cost-effectively reduce primary energy consumption, improve demand flexibility, and occupant comfort.

The opaque envelope affects 25% of building energy use, or 10% of total U.S. primary energy use. Improving the energy performance of the opaque envelope in U.S. buildings is critical to reducing total building energy use.


Opaque Building Envelopes Research

The building envelope—the barrier that helps maintain comfortable indoor conditions irrespective of prevailing outdoor conditions—is the single largest contributor to primary energy use in residential and commercial buildings. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the building envelope influences heating, cooling, and lighting uses that represent 13% of total U.S. primary energy use.

The “opaque” envelope comprises all elements of the building envelope besides windows, such as walls, roofs, and foundations. Novel opaque envelope technologies could dramatically reduce building energy use while simultaneously delivering additional benefits such as comfort, well-being, and productivity for building owners and occupants.

The Opaque Envelopes RDO features five key areas of technology R&D:

  • Ultra-High R/in Insulation Materials
  • Envelope Diagnostic Technologies and Modeling Tools
  • Envelope Remediation Technologies
  • Tunable Transport Materials
  • Energy Storage Systems.

Successful research, development, market entry, and widespread adoption of novel opaque envelope technologies requires sustained, long-term, high-risk research investment. Collaboration between academia, national laboratories, government, and private industry is critical to achieving these objectives.

Technology Manager

Sven Mumme
Envelope Technology Manager