With wall framing we are looking to be as efficient as possible to reduce material use and associated thermal impacts and this is accomplished with advanced framing strategies. There is a lot of low hanging fruit with advanced framing: using 24” centers, reducing king, jack, and cripple studs to only those necessary, eliminating unnecessary headers, or at least reducing their size, and ensuring framing cavities are completely accessible for insulation. That last point is realized by using California corners and thoughtful use of nailers.
Going a step further, single top plates can be used, but this requires steel plate connections (or an additional wood plate) and aligning floor joist or rafters/trusses with studs. Additionally, fenestration openings can be located such that one side of the rough opening lines up with the standard stud spacing, ideally 24”.
Steel studs, beams, and other components should be avoided because steel is a conductor and a significant thermal bridge. Achieving the same performance as a similar wood-framed wall requires increasing the amount of exterior rigid insulation. Also, steel has much higher embodied energy than wood.
Most importantly, structural requirements supersede any efficiency measures. However, getting the structural engineer involved early and identifying advanced framing as a goal promotes success.
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