During the last week of July, Illinois builder Beechen & Dill opened one of its under-construction homes to fellow Chicago-area architects, builders, and code officials, providing a hands-on look at straightforward energy-efficient construction techniques that can be easily replicated in nearly any house around the country.
The “Inside View” home, co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, and APA—The Engineered Wood Association, features a range of advanced framing techniques that boost its energy efficiency, including:
• 2×6 studs spaced 24″ on center, which provides more space for cavity insulation while saving installation time.
• Ladder junctions at interior-exterior wall intersections, creating easy-to-insulate wall cavities.
• Insulated three-stud corners/California corners, which leave increased room for insulation.
• Insulated single-ply and double-ply engineered wood headers, which provide space for insulation above windows and doors.
• A robust floor system that features 24″ on center spacing, allowing for ductwork runs in conditioned space while eliminating about one-third of the required joists and subsequently requiring one-third less labor, adhesive, and fasteners.
Though Beechen & Dill has been leading its market by implementing energy-efficient building practices for years, including being one of the first builders to guarantee homeowners’ energy bills, the Inside View project was the company’s first full-on foray into advanced framing.
“Implementing advanced framing practices takes some adjustment on the part of our crew, but it’s the next logical step in our path to building more efficient houses,” says director of construction Ed Kubiak.
Those new steps, however, required buy-in from everyone on the project team, from the architect to the framer to the supplier. The full team met early on to determine which techniques made the most sense and were the most cost-effective to incorporate, which were less practical to change, and how those decisions would impact typical schedules and operations.
For example, to accommodate the wider spacing in the floor system, Beechen & Dill upgraded to higherseries, deeper 14″ I-joists, which allowed them to avoid double joists in several areas. The wider joist spacing was combined with an upgraded 7/8 category wood structural panel subfloor to maintain a premium floor feel. The subfloor required special ordering by the LBM dealer, 84 Lumber in Naperville, Ill.
“84 is an important partner in this process as we navigate these new techniques,” notes Kubiak. “Along with accommodating new product needs, they conducted cost calculations to help us determine the most economical route to achieving our efficiency goals.”