Sustainability and Building Enclosures


It is the policy of the International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants (IIBEC) that the principles of sustainability be considered when consulting onbuilding enclosures. The three principles of sustainability are environment, society, and economy.


Sustainability needs to be balanced among environmental impacts, societal needs, and economic feasibility. One pillar should not be optimized to the detriment of the others; a concept that IIBEC supports, and members should follow.

According to the Department of Energy, the building sector is responsible for 40% of total energy consumption, 75% of the Nation’s electricity use, an even greater share of peak power demand, and is responsible for 36%of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.[i][ii]  Finally, building materials are estimated to compose 30% of landfills.Building-design considerations have advanced beyond merely how to reduce emissions and energy usage to how fast can emissions be reduced and the decarbonization of building materials along with methods to limit the waste generated from construction and demolition projects.

The private sector has embraced sustainable design to accommodate those owners seeking to minimize a building’s environmental impact while considering the needs to society and building occupants, all while meeting budget constraints. Life-cycle-cost analysis (LCCA) and life-cycle assessment (LCA) are two methods widely used by architects, engineers, and designers to achieve this goal. Both of these methods—LCCA and LCA—evaluate a full set of impacts over the full life of a product or project. IIBEC supports LCCA, LCA, or other assessments that lead to a robust evaluation of sustainable design decisions rather than consideration of single environmental, economic, or society parameters.


When designing a building enclosure for a structure that will stand for decades, a designer will make hundreds, if not thousands of decisions, during the course of a project.  Informed decisions can only be made when evaluating the full range of environmental, societal, and economic impacts. Through application of the principles of sustainability, designers will be able to balance the needs of stakeholders while producing a building enclosure design that will meet local building codes, perform as designed, and meet the customer’s expectations.

U.S. Energy Information Administration. Annual Energy Outlook 2019 with projections to 2050. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy, January 2019.