Top Industry Trends for Building with Cold-Formed Steel Framing
Cold-formed steel (or CFS) framing is not a new concept, but actually a common construction method used in mid-rise construction. In fact, its use dates back to the 1800s, when the first CFS structure was built. Back then, the construction industry was much smaller than it is today. A lack of technology meant that steel framing was still very much in the back of people’s minds as timber was predominately used. However, with rapid industrialization and more advanced building designs fueling major advances in building science, its popularity has grown considerably since then.
Cold formed steel is now in huge demand as standard construction material used by major companies in the design and construction of all building types, including commercial, retail, residential, hospitality, student housing, military barracks, and even medical centers. This makes CFS one of the most prominent construction trends in 2022.
We have studied both the construction industry as a whole, as well as the steel industry specifically, and have seen just how popular cold-formed steel framing has become in recent years. Therefore, we were able to outline some of the key trends we’ve seen so far this year – as well as trends for 2023 and beyond. We’ve collected our findings and presented them in the list below:
Labor Force Shortages
It is no secret that the construction labor market has always faced challenges. Since the 2008 recession, the construction industry has been challenged with finding and keeping skilled manual labor workers. Now, after the pandemic, this problem has been amplified. Market estimates along with recent reports suggest there are 25% more unfilled construction positions than hires. Put simply, companies are struggling to find the manpower to complete projects.
This is a growing trend, and it’s a massive problem.
Nevertheless, utilizing cold-formed steel framing, All Steel Mid-Rise presents a solution to this issue. More and more companies are choosing to build with light gauge steel framing because of its ability to be pre-fabricated. Effectively, load-bearing CFS walls can be manufactured and prefabricated off-site, and delivered just-in-time to the project. As a result, less manpower is required for all panelized CFS projects that All Steel Mid-Rise manages. Our clients simply have us design and manage the CFS portion of the project, and then erect our prefabricated system with ease. Our panelized, prefabricated systems can be installed at an average rate of 6,500 SF per working week, with a crew of only eight installers!
Sustainable construction is another huge industry trend that’s taking center stage in 2022 and beyond. According to the World Green Building Council, the construction industry generates 39% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, big changes and government initiatives are being called for to reduce this figure – and cold-formed steel is at the forefront of this solution
Cold-formed steel is 100% recyclable and can be recycled/reused multiple times over, which is a fantastic feature of any building material. Furthermore, cold-formed steel is made with recycled content already. Since 2012, the steel recycling rate for general construction is approximately 74%. Thus, less waste is generated when cold formed light gauge steel framing is used in building construction.
Moreover, less waste is generated thanks to off-site fabrication. Bypassing the need to fabricate framing on-site means construction sites generate less non-recyclable waste.
Cold-formed steel allows for more building flexibility and creativity while maintaining dimensional stability. Cold formed steel has proven it can accommodate more traditional construction techniques. But in a competitive landscape where technological innovations are pushing design to the limits, light gauge steel framing is proving even more versatile and adaptable.
Consequently, they can be used to build anything from traditional homes to modern designs – and even large multi-story buildings. The need for flexible construction materials increases year after year, and this is one of the biggest trends. Architects and designers are keen to create new buildings in all sorts of shapes and designs that often require new technologies and building materials.
In fact, you can even link this to the previous trend. Sustainable construction often involves creating structures that are designed to be better for the environment. For instance, they have areas for solar panels to be installed or rooftop green spaces. Using cold-formed steel helps bring these ideas to life as it can be fabricated to suit virtually any design.
Climate Change Resilience
As previously mentioned, the construction industry is pinpointed as one of the key producers of carbon emissions. In turn, rising construction activities have sped up the impact of climate change around the world. Ironically, climate change is causing key issues throughout the construction industry. Most notably, there is rapid growth focusing on building things that are resilient to the effects of climate change.
This exact talking point was outlined in an article by Deloitte, in which numerous activities were discussed to see how buildings could be constructed to handle the consequence of climate change. Some of the points raised were increasing building durability, and improving resistance to extreme weather conditions.
As luck would have it, cold-formed steel framing fits the bill perfectly. As a material, steel is extremely durable and can withstand a lot of force and pressure. This makes it an ideal material when constructing buildings that are earthquake or wind-proof.
Additionally, steel is non-combustible. Climate change has seen temperatures across the globe soar to extreme heights. Thus, we have seen many cases of wildfires starting and then spreading to buildings. Timber frames are highly combustible and can completely destroy a building. With steel frames, you won’t have the same issue. Buildings constructed using cold formed steel framing have a better chance of withstanding fires and remain standing.
Companies within the industry are constantly looking for ways to cut construction costs and make construction more affordable without compromising the quality of a build. Cold-formed steel offers the ideal solution to this. It is cheaper to construct and acquire than many other materials, like structural steel and concrete. Alongside this, it is more affordable for building owners to insure these structures, during and after the construction process. When off-site fabrication, minimal on-site manpower, and cheaper insurance costs are combined, a cold-formed steel building can be a great way of saving money over the entire project.
Again, like the labor shortage, the need for cheaper construction stems from the recent pandemic. Construction companies were severely hit by the lockdowns and subsequent supply issues, meaning many businesses lost a lot of money. Finding ways to continue providing services without spending too much money is the key to stimulating slow but steady market growth and getting many companies back in the industry.
Overall, the trends point to lightweight cold-formed steel framing being at the heart of construction for years to come. If you’re interested in learning more about the advantages of cold formed steel framing, contact All Steel Mid-Rise today.
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