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Steel vs. Wood Long-Term Thermal Performance Comparison: Valparaiso Demonstration Homes

FULL TEXT: * Adobe Acrobat (*.pdf, 2.7 MB)

* Report (*.pdf, 264 KB)
* Appendices (*.pdf, 2.4 MB)

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January 2002, 110 pages

Despite the availability of cold-formed steel framing, there are still basic barriers that impede its adoption in the residential market. Probably the primary barrier is that the building industry is generally reluctant to adopt alternative building methods and materials unless they exhibit clear cost or quality advantages. A second barrier is how the high thermal conductivity of steel affects energy use in homes. This report focuses on the latter of these issues.

The scope of this report is limited to long-term (May 2000-April 2001) energy use in two nearly identical side-by-side homes in Valparaiso, Indiana. This site has a house framed with conventional dimensional lumber and a second house framed with cold-formed steel. Blower door and Duct Blaster tests were conducted for both houses to determine the levels of air infiltration for each house. Similarly, co-heat tests were performed to compare short-term thermal performance between the two houses.

Content updated on 3/24/2006

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