Steel Framing: How Green?

July/August 2001
A version of this article appears in the July/August 2001 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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July 01, 2001
    Steel Framing: How Green? Q: Is the use of steel framing for residential construction turning into a trend that we must now take seriously? Isn't energy efficiency very tricky when using steel? When should an energyefficient custom builder like me decide to use steel framing? A: Steel framing is made of lightgauge, cold-formed steel. All its structural components-including exterior studs, tracks, columns, rafters,beams,purlins,and fasteners-are manufactured to exacting specifications designed to make steel frame construction a viable alternative to wood frame residential construction.         This construction method is gaining popularity, as is shown by the fact that a growing number of homes use steel construction. In 1995, an estimated 55,000 homes were built with steel framing; by 1999, this figure had jumped to 87,000. Light-gauge steel shipments for residential construction increased 41% from 1998 to 1999. By 2003, the Steel Recycling Institute estimates that 25% of all new homes built in the United States will be totally or partially steel framed. This is a new construction method that cannot be ignored.         In manufacturing, sheet steel made at steel mills is roll-formed into the proper shape for framing members. The resulting pieces are galvanized ...

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