In commercial construction, the rules of engagement are constantly evolving. Major fires and building collapses make everyone involved take a critical look at standards and regulations. The push for greater sustainability and energy efficiency drives municipalities to consistently update energy codes.
When it comes to selecting the right building materials, all these factors must be considered along with cost and convenience. Fold in the pervasive impact of a global pandemic and resulting interruptions in the supply chain, and builders are now shifting their focus to materials they can actually secure.
Consider the impact on the residential housing market. According to a Visual Capitalist report from May 2021, $50,000 worth of lumber could build 10 single-family homes in May 2020. Over the next year, lumber prices would skyrocket 377%. The result: $50,000 worth of lumber in May 2021 – just a year later – was only enough wood to build two single-family homes. Wood structural panels and OSB continue to be in high demand, materials are difficult to come by, and prices have increased astronomically.
This combination of factors has sparked an interest in lumber alternatives. For example, builders have begun to look at manufacturers who can provide metal studs instead of traditional wood 2x4s or 2x6s. These challenging circumstances also have builders nationwide turning to companies such as Ox Engineered Products, a manufacturer of industry-leading structural sheathing and innovative thermal insulation products, to deliver smart building solutions that represent an alternative to wood.
Costs and Convenience Align
In general, builders choose products that they can purchase conveniently. Inflated lumber prices set into motion by the onset of the pandemic in 2020 forced builders to be opportunistic when purchasing building materials. Product availability became such an uncertainty in some cases that the convenient option became any product that was available and that could still get the job done well.
Ox Engineered Products engineer insulation solutions that serve as an alternative to lumber or OSB. Consequently, products manufactured by Ox became the convenient option for builders. However, builders who have opted to install Ox products have learned that they do not have to sacrifice on quality or performance.
For example, STRONG-R, the company’s structural insulation product for commercial construction, provides the ultimate in performance and protection to shield commercial buildings from the outside elements – heat, cold, air, and moisture. In addition to providing continuous insulation, STRONG-R includes a structural component that possesses the equivalent lateral shear properties of wood structural panels like OSB.
The product’s availability during the COVID-driven shortages was a plus for commercial builders and contractors. Once they had the product on site, the convenience factor was on full display. As an integrated four-in-one solution, STRONG-R delivers all of the wall components necessary to back the builder’s cladding of choice. STRONG-R includes insulation, structural reinforcement, an air barrier, and a moisture barrier all in a single product.
Cracking the Code
Energy-efficient products allow architects and builders to earn LEED certification for the buildings they design and construct, contributing to a greener built environment and healthier communities throughout the nation. In addition, building code changes are driving reduced energy consumption to lessen the impact of climate change
Continuous insulation products like STRONG-R are installed in a manner that physically covers energy loss gaps commonly found in traditional insulation methods such as flash-and-batt. With continuous insulation, a building’s energy efficiency is increased over the longterm, saving building owners on heating and cooling costs over the life of the structure. This benefits the environment, building occupants, and the owner’s bottom line.
In fact, a recent analysis from the Department of Energy (DOE) in July 2021 reported that newly instated building energy code requirements will result in energy savings of “4.7% for commercial buildings and 9.4% for residential buildings compared to the previous editions of the model energy code – resulting in 13 quadrillion British thermal units of primary energy savings and 900 million metric tons of avoided CO2 emissions, equivalent to annual emissions from nearly 200 million cars.”
Those in charge of designing and building commercial structures will need to find alternative methods to meet these updated code requirements if their normal, go-to products don’t meet this threshold.
The Total Package
The building envelope is a crucial component of any structure, and it is a good place to start for builders looking to reduce energy consumption by eliminating thermal loss through structural components.
Products that can solve builders’ most pressing issues are the ones that will have the most staying power.
A viable solution? Continuous insulation.
With STRONG-R from Ox Engineered Products, commercial building teams are one step closer to meeting code requirements, because the product provides unbroken, continuous insulation and eliminates thermal loss through studs and other structural components. It is also cost-effective and not subject to frequent price fluctuations that the lumber industry so frequently experiences.
When lumber shortages do occur, STRONG-R and other Ox products provide a high-performing solution to keep project timelines on schedule. Crews need to wrap the structure only once with STRONG-R versus multiple times with other solutions. This saves even more time on the job site, which can translate into dollars saved.
Such an alternative that is cost-effective, code-compliant, and convenient would represent what many would call the total package.
To learn more about STRONG-R and Ox’s other innovative solutions for commercial and residential structures, visit: www.oxengineeredproducts.com.