When it comes to energy consumption, the building industry is the biggest hog of all. Buildings consume 47.6% of all the energy produced in the United States. For this reason, architects have a tremendous opportunity to affect real change in energy conservation. By implementing various sustainable strategies in the design process, our buildings have the potential to be far more energy efficient. Advanced Framing is one of these strategies.
Also known as “Optimum Value Engineering,” Advanced Framing is a sustainable architectural framing system. Initially developed as a strategy to reduce the cost of residential construction, if properly implemented, Advanced Framing can reduce labor and material cost, as well as mitigate operational costs over the lifespan of a building. There are several basic tenets of the system.
First, 2×6 framing replaces traditional 2×4 construction at bearing conditions. “Stack framing” is also implemented. This means framing elements (studs, floor joists, rafters) are placed in exact alignment with one another, creating a directly aligned load transfer. By doing this, the need for double top plates atop the studs is eliminated, and a single top plate suffices. Studs, joists, and rafters are spaced at 24” on center. The combination of a thicker wall cavity and studs placed farther apart allows for thicker, less interrupted insulation which, in turn, results in a greater overall wall-assembly R-value. Increasing the stud spacing also reduces the amount of undesirable thermal bridging that occurs in standard construction.
In Advanced Framing, the entire house is designed on a 2’ grid to ensure maximum use of standard-sized materials and to minimize waste. To further improve material efficiency, all windows and doors are aligned (at least on one side) with a stud. By utilizing drywall clips, corner conditions require only 2 studs in comparison to the traditional 3. Headers are eliminated entirely in non load-bearing walls. Where headers are needed in load-bearing walls, they are sized appropriately. When the header is carrying a light load, sometimes only one 2X member is required. Metal Hangers can replace trimmer studs in door and window openings. Excess cripple studs under windows are eliminated. In windows over 2’ wide, only one cripple stud is needed. It’s not structurally required, but it serves as a necessary nailing surface for the window and finishes. At intersecting wall conditions, ladder blocking or drywall clips are utilized to reduce lumber waste.
By implementing Advanced Framing, environmental impact is reduced because fewer trees are cut for lumber. The embodied energy associated with construction is also reduced as less material has to be transported to the site. Ultimately, by using Advanced Framing, the owner saves on labor, material, and costs associated with heating and cooling. At Ross Design we think this is an intelligent, economical, environmentally responsible way to build – which is exactly why we’re currently utilizing it in a number of active projects!
*wall framing image source: http://i2.wp.com/www.planningtiny.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/framing.gif