August 5, 2009
SFA Continues To Address Barriers And Promote Advantages Of CFS Framing

Several years back, the Steel Framing Alliance (SFA) set out to address a series of high priority barriers and opportunities that impact the use of cold-formed steel (CFS) in the marketplace. In the February edition of Framework Online, we discussed priorities for 2009. Given that more than half a year has gone by, now is a good time to bring the membership an update on progress.

Technology Transfer
First, let me state that SFA is committed to providing state-of-the-art information to the industry. We have answered hundreds of calls and emails to the steel framing hotline (1-800-79-STEEL) since the beginning of the year on subjects ranging from design standards to market information. However, our most effective outreach continues to be the development and distribution of Tech Notes and design guides through the Cold-Formed Steel Engineers Institute (CFSEI). A list of the CFSEI materials published in the first half of 2009 is shown in the sidebar to the right.

Energy Efficiency
As we have stated in past issues, energy efficiency may be the most important issue facing the CFS industry in the current year. It is highly likely that the President will sign a bill working its way through the U.S. Congress that requires codes to be 30% more efficient than 2006 energy codes and standards. SFA has taken a proactive approach to positioning steel in the energy area. Our strategies are focusing on minimizing the cost difference between steel and other materials. The activity since the beginning of the year has focused on proposed requirements to the ASHRAE Standard 90.1, recognized as the most widely adopted energy standard for commercial buildings in the United States and Canada. The 90.1 committee has proposed requirements for as much as 4 or 5 inches of foam insulation on CFS walls. SFA staff proposed a limit on the thickness to 1.5 inches based on the fact that thicker levels of foam would create a conflict with other building code requirements. Although ASHRAE made a concession on this issue, limiting the foam to 3 inches, SFA will continue to press for further reductions in the ballot process.

SFA staff submitted several other energy code changes to make CFS more competitive including a proposal to modify the tables in the ICC codes that specify equivalency between wood and steel assemblies. The tables as they currently read in the codes are overly conservative and create a cost disadvantage for CFS framing.

One last item on energy codes that has an impact on CFS was addressed through a code change SFA submitted to the ICC that reinstates allowances for HVAC and water heating efficiencies to be used to trade off against insulation in components. These trade offs were removed in the 2009 code despite objections from SFA and numerous industry groups. Due to some changeover in the committee make-up, we believe this change has a good chance for approval.

Although the energy effort has focused on codes & standards, SFA is also conducting research to improve the performance of CFS framing. We recently joined with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) on a jointly funded program to develop cost-effective attachment methods for various siding materials for steel studs where as much as four inches of foam is required. This project, which began in mid-June will allow our industry to direct the solutions rather than have them imposed on us by others.

A second energy-related project is also underway. SFA, with co-funding from the Steel Stud Manufacturers Association and American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI), has retained Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) to conduct tests of CFS wall assemblies. The tests will allow us to address overly conservative assumptions being used in codes and simulation software to determine thermal performance characteristics of steel framing. ORNL will also be testing some innovative systems including “warm wall” assemblies. More information on warm wall design and other issues related to thermal performance can be found in SFA’s 2008 update to our Thermal Design Guide. A downloadable copy is available on SFA's homepage.

We will keep you informed of future progress on these and other energy issues as they develop. However, please consider attending the ICC code hearings in Baltimore the end of October and early November. We will need your support. Click here for more information

Insurance & Cycle Time
The mid-rise construction market continues to be a growing market for CFS load-bearing applications, and SFA is involved in helping remove barriers to this market through codes and standards, but also through program development. Perhaps the largest benefit of CFS in the mid-rise market is the insurance discounts CFS receives. Most of you are aware of the builders risk reductions SFA has negotiated for the industry. Discounts for CFS buildings range from 25% to 75% depending on a number of factors. For more information, you can contact Zurich, our insurance industry partner at 1-888-40-STEEL.

In 2009, we have also been pressing SFA’s Steel Advantage program. Steel Advantage offers a suite of insurance offerings - including general liability, builder risk, workers comp – with total combined discounts as high as 45%. The program works through brokers. In 2009, our goal was to establish a network of regional brokers in the United States and Canada. We have added two large brokers since the spring and are working to add at least 3 more by December. Information on SFA insurance programs is available on a special section of our Web site we recently developed at

Working with SFA members, we have also determined that cycle time is an important benefit CFS brings to the mid-rise market. Thus, we have initiated case studies of successful projects to document the cycle time, insurance savings, and other benefits of CFS framing in this market. The results will be used to educate financial representatives and others building owner representatives about the favorable cash flow scenarios available with CFS framing. As with the insurance issues, we will be setting up a special section on our Web site for cycle time issues.

When I started this article, I failed to realize how much space would be required to capture all of SFA's activities. There is much more currently under way than could fit in these pages. For example, SFA is working with the AISI Committee on Framing Standard (COFS) to develop better ways to attach bottom track to concrete slabs to address new requirements in the ACI-318 standard for concrete. We are also working with AISI and steel industry representatives in Canada to stop the advancement of non-combustible construction methods into the 4+ story market.

Last, there are so many activities related to sustainability and green building, it seemed better to create a separate article on that subject. Please see the article in this issue of Framework Online by Maribeth Rizzuto.

Although this is a challenging time for our industry, SFA will continue to represent our members on the issues we described here as well as others that arise. This fall, our Technology Development Committee will again conduct a survey to help identify emerging issues and priorities for research. Keep a look out for the survey in your email inbox in the November time frame. In the meantime, please visit our Web site for more information. And always feel free to call with questions or comments, either directly (202)785-2022 or on the steel hotline at (800)79-STEEL.

Mark Nowak, President, Steel Framing Alliance

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Steel Framing Alliance
1201 15th St., NW,
Suite 320
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone 202.785.2022
Fax 202.785.3856

During the first half of 2009, CFSEI published the following new Technical Notes and Design Guides:
Vertical Lateral Force Resisting Systems: Boundary Elements (TN L300-09)
Header Design Guide (TN W200-09)
Design of Clip Angle Bearing Stiffeners (TN F100-09)
Roof Framing Anchorage Forces: MWFRS or C&C (TN L200-09)
Three additional notes are undergoing review and are scheduled for release in August:
Concrete Bearing Strength for Cold-Formed Steel Stud Walls
Top Track Load Distribution Members
Designing Cold-Formed Steel Using the Direct Strength Method.
Check out the “Members Only” section of our website for more access to these resources.
- Catlow Consulting
Las Vegas, NV
- Hambro Structural Systems
Deerfield Beach, FL
- Nagamine Okawa Eng., Inc.
Honolulu, HI
- ThermaChannel
Portland, OR
- Wenco Inc.
New Carlisle, OH
- ZJS Engineering Ser., Inc.
Fontana, CA

August 11, 2009
CFS Lateral Design Guide Presentation
Atlanta, GA More


September 20-22, 2010
Steel Structures 2010 Culture & Sustainability International
Istanbul, Turkey More


October 6-8, 2009
METALCON International
Tampa, FL


October 11-13, 2009
USGBC Greenbuild Conference
Phoenix, AZ


October 17-20, 2009
AISC COS Meetings
Chicago, IL



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Brought to you by the Steel Framing Alliance (SFA) on the first Wednesday of each month, Framework Online arms you with the latest news and commentary on the steel framing and construction industries. In addition to industry headlines, trends and project profiles, Framework Online provides information and ideas that will better enable members to increase their participation in the residential and commercial construction markets.