Advanced Framing: A Make It Right Strategy for EE Homes

robert decosmo's picture
robert decosmo
Architect
February 24, 2016

One of Make It Right Foundation’s most important steps to saving money and making greener, more energy efficient houses has been the project wide adoption of Advanced Framing techniques.

Advanced Framing methods save material, money and energy when implemented.
Advanced Framing methods save material, money and energy when implemented.
Credit: Robert DeCosmo

Also known as Optimum Value Engineering, or OVE, for all of our stick framing on site, Advanced Framing methods save material, money and energy when implemented.

They were originally developed by HUD in the 1960’s, and have been re-discovered by Make It Right Foundation and the green building community recently because of the these efficiencies.

Fundamentals of Advanced Framing:

The one-liner definition of Advanced Framing is framing on a 24” on center module, while stacking the joists, studs and rafters of a house in direct alignment.

This is it in a nutshell, however there is a much more to this technique than one may imagine.

MIR Advanced Framing Table

As the table above indicates, there are many techniques unique to advanced framing that may seem unorthodox to common practices. However, the full implementation of Advanced Framing can make a substantial reduction in the amount of lumber used, and the thermal efficiency of a design.

Advantages:

• 30% to 45% reduction in wood fiber compared to conventional platform framing
• Lower environmental impact because less wood is used
• Reduced material costs
• Greater energy efficiency because or reduced thermal bridging (ie: less lumber in the wall leaves room for more insulation)
• 15% increase in R-values
• MIR has tested and verified a 5x strength increase in our advanced framing walls compared to conventional framing. Our UNO performance based testing looks at the wall as an integrated system of components, rather that a collection of individually rated parts.

Challenges:

• design restrictions. To gain optimum benefits, designs need to be adjusted to fit a 2’-0” module. Also, doors, windows and openings should be located on the 2’-0” module where ever possible for maximum efficiency
• Framing crews need to be educated and supervised more carefully when this technique is implemented to ensure optimum results
• Architects and engineers need to be brought up to speed on notes, details and schedules regarding this unconventional method
• Custom stud lengths need to be ordered. This requires close communication and collaboration with lumber supplier
• Testing and code adoption. Building departments and inspectors may need to familiarize themselves with this unconventional method

MIR’s implementation:

The initial phase of MIR construction utilized conventional stick framing. Since the adoption of Advanced Framing techniques there has been a corresponding drop in our framing costs as well as our framing waste. This is due to the same designs being built with 30% to 40% less lumber than their phase one counterparts.

As part of MIR’s mission to be a catalyst for the spread of green building techniques, a round of testing at the University of New Orleans was initiated that demonstrated to ICC code officials that our unique framing composition (consisting of glued sheathing members, and specific nail patterns) produced a wall that was 5 times stronger than a conventional platform framed wall, while using a between 30% and 40% less material. This was accomplished by testing the wall as an integrated system rather than a collection of separate parts as the code and building departments would typically view it. Once recognized, we began utilizing this framing on our entire stick framed houses, and on the platforms and interior partition walls of our SIP built houses. This testing and recognition also has cleared the path for other builders in the area that are interested in efficient building practices to utilize our methods as well.

Through our implementation and profile, MIR is working to make Advanced Framing techniques easier and more accessible to home builders of all types that are interested in maximizing the efficiencies of material and energy in their projects. This is all in keeping with our mission to be a catalyst for the spread of green building technology throughout our region.

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