The 475 Smart Enclosure System:

a return to fundamental principles of building science.


For thousands of years, buildings were made with a keen regard for nature, and historically, building science was intimately attuned to natural phenomenon. Then, the 20th-century builders, with giant resources of energy and rapid scientific advancements tried to conquer the vagaries of nature. Natural solutions were ignored. If they felt like it, they made up, down, and down, up. And any unintended consequences would be answered with yet more engineering and power. It has been brute force all the way down – landing us in a dystopian landscape. Today our traditional buildings are so chemical and energy dependent, they are a leading cause of our environmental catastrophe.

Conventional enclosures use too much energy and too many toxins, with too many plastics and too much stuff - too often out of step with nature and our current environmental predicament.

Build with Building Science

The 475 Smart Enclosure System (Smart Enclosure) acknowledges its profound relationship with the outside environment and the occupants within. By intensively focusing building science, in this context, the Smart Enclosure results in an approach that: lowers the assembly’s embodied energy, uses less toxic and more natural materials - with less stuff - and results in optimized performance and durability. We combine the basics of natural principles with highly selective technological innovation and manufacturing – working in harmony with nature, not in opposition.

Any Building Enclosure Can Be A Smart Enclosure

The 475 Smart Enclosure System isn’t a one size fits all prescription, but a range of strategies that are project and site specific. It can be applied to any wall assembly, including double-stud, I-Joist Outrigger, 2x framing, cross-laminated timber (CLT), and historic masonry and wood framed retrofits. Even enclosures that can’t avoid metal and concrete structures can be Smart Enclosures. So, while the construction context may vary, in each case, the solutions strive to deliver shared goals:

  • Higher wood content - sequestering as much carbon as possible, for generations (e.g., Gutex wood fiber insulation, wood framing, CLT)
  • Lower plastic content - lowering toxicity for workers, occupants, and the biosphere (e.g., Havelock Sheeps Wood & Gutex wood fiber insulation)
  • Less stuff - lowering embodied energy (e.g., sheathingless framing)
  • 100+ year durability - maximizing its climate mitigation effectiveness (e.g., Pro Clima independently tested performance)
  • Smart vapor control and airtightness - actively optimizing durability, energy efficiency and comfort (e.g., Pro Clima INTELLO, INTELLO X, DB+ and SOLITEX systems)
  • Integration of enclosures into whole building design - reaching for Passive House, Net Zero and Carbon Negative building performance. (e.g., Passive House Institute PHPP energy modeling)

Don’t Default - Let’s Make New Habits

Architects have tried-and-true details, and contractors have tried-and-true means and methods which have well served traditional goals. Today, the goalposts are shifting. Power and plastics are no longer the cure-all. We can no longer default to what’s been typically done. Instead, in our individual paths of continuous improvement, we should make new habits that successfully address our new concerns. The new goalposts include a sustainable future that is healthy and prosperous, with less toxicity, less waste and lower carbon emissions.

To reach these goals we don’t need to reinvent building, we need to focus on the fundamentals of the new goals. We can update typical details, standard specifications and means and methods in ways that appreciate the new goals. It's not an overhaul, but a course correction. The building design and construction industry needs to change our default habits that don't serve these new goals and shift our habits to strategies that do. With a few new habits we can have a profoundly positive effect and build a sustainable future.

Next Steps

New, better, habits, can be hard to form, but once formed, they can take on the ultimate power of normalization. At 475 we look to work with architects, engineers, consultants, builders and owners to identify existing strategies that can be modified. How can details and specifications can be edited? What training and education might be useful? How can we create a critical movement towards a better way of building? We appreciate the pull of history and the exhilaration of the new - we’re here to put it all to work for you.

Email, call, chat, visit, download, read - let’s discuss your building plans, and how the Smart Enclosure can help you build the future we all want to live in.

Contact us to get started today.

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