Design and Build Smart: Use Advanced Framing to Save Time, Money and Energy

Employing Advanced Framing Techniques during the design and construction phases saves on labor, material and the amount of heat loss in a new home.

Advanced Framing Techniques Proud Green Home

25% of a the building shell area in a typical home is made of wood. The other 75% is primarily windows, doors, insulation, finishes and cladding. When you factor in the area of the windows (typically 25% of the floor area and higher) and doors, you end up with not a lot shell area that can be insulated. This is a problem in most climate zones, and it’s one of the many reasons why single-family homes use so much energy (approx. 20% in U.S.).

In homes that are designed and built smarter, regardless of whether they’re being certified through a green building program or not, the window-to-floor area ratio is closer to 15%, and the amount of framing in the wall is also closer to 15% of the shell area. That gives us more area to work with to insulate the home. With certain advanced framing techniques, we gain as much as 60% or more in the cavity area than conventional 2×4 @ 16″ on-center framing. This gives us the opportunity for higher average R-Value throughout the building shell.

Read all about it!

A quick search in Google with the search terms words “advanced framing techniques” will pull up a long list of great resources that explain how and why to do it. There are even a few out there that will share with you some of the why-nots. It’s good to know the pros and the cons, and while I definitely agree with some of the disadvantages stated, I would not agree with anything that says it’s not worth it.

A few of the resources I like to refer clients and builders are:

  1. Advanced Wall Framing by Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy
  2. BSI-030: Advanced Framing by Joe Lstiburek, Building Science Corporation.
  3. The Pros and Cons of Advanced Framing by Martin Holladay, Green Building Advisor

Read through any of them, and you will find reasons why, how-tos, and projections of how much can be saved. It’s a worthwhile approach because it does save time, money and energy. We like that!

P.S. I do not recommend single top plates. The splice plates used to tie them together are effective, but the double-top-plate approach is much more so. It’s worth the extra wood to get the extra durability, especially in areas of the country exposed to high winds (hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.). In fact, local code may not allow a single top plate, no matter how well-reinforced.

On Location with The Imery Group, Builder

This past weekend, I visited the site of a home that we designed just southwest of Atlanta, where we’re employing several advance framing techniques. I met the builder, Luis Imery, there to shoot some video of some of these techniques. The home is just southwest of Atlanta in the sustainable community of Serenbe. It has will be certified EarthCraft House Platinum, ENERGY STAR Version 3.0, EPA Water Sense, and EPA Indoor Air Plus. The home will also produce on-site electricity (photovoltaics), and will have a net energy bill for the year of (0) zero (a.k.a. Net-Zero – house will produce as much energy as the it uses).

PART 1: Introduction to Advanced Framing Techniques: “T-Wall” Intersections and Non-Load-Bearing Wall Headers

PART 2: More Advanced Framing Techniques: “California” Corners, 2×6 framing @ 24″ on-center and insulated header

Part 3: Even More Advanced Framing Techniques: Reduced Framing at Window Openings.

Written by Chris Laumer-Giddens

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2 Responses so far.

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