PFMI Update: A bigger slice

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The National Frame Building Association’s Post-Frame Market Initiative is an industry-wide market development program intended to significantly increase the use of post-frame construction systems. Each post-frame builder’s slice of the business pie can be bigger if the industry is successful in increasing the size of the pie itself. And if the entire post-frame industry is growing, individual builders are better positioned to thrive in their own markets.

To this end, PFMI enjoyed many great successes in 2011 by expanding the acceptance and viability of post frame as a building method of choice for more construction projects.

2011 Highlights
In April, NFBA members made a presentation to the Ohio Department of Transportation staff about the advantages of using post frame for its buildings. Although ODOT has used post frame for smaller accessory buildings, the department is currently focused on value engineering all its buildings and has identified post frame as a particularly attractive option because of the method’s cost and speed of construction. ODOT’s current fiscal-year master plan calls for the use of post frame for five large outpost buildings, including administrative offices, garages for large vehicles and repair facilities, at an estimated cost of $4–5 million.

On education, the Post-Frame Advan-tage site (postframeadvantage.com) is prospering as a hub for educating influential construction project decision makers about the benefits of post frame. For example, the website’s PFA Online University is increasingly becoming a go-to source for post-frame education. In the fourth quarter alone, 52 individuals completed a course. Since PFMI’s inception, more than 550 students have attended the online university. The university now offers nine modules, six of which were designed primarily for engineers and three of which were written specifically for architects.

In addition, PFMI’s webinar series is flourishing. In the fourth quarter, the “Introduction to Post-Frame Building Systems” webinar was offered to 169 architects and engineers, an increase of 89 participants compared to the number in the previous quarter. Also in the fourth quarter, an advanced webinar, “Structural Design of Post-Frame Building Systems,” primarily for structural engineers, was offered to 136 attendees, 130 of whom requested continuing education credit.

PFMI closed out the year with an important technical milestone that will further open doors to post frame. In December, a 3-hour fire test of a post-frame wall assembly was successfully completed by Underwriters Laboratories. The wall assembly surpassed the test requirements, not failing until 3 hours, 47 minutes. In the second part of the fire-test requirement — the hose-stream water-pressure test run on a second test assembly — the wall was fire-tested for 1 hour, followed by the application of a pressurized fire hose. This test was run for 5 minutes, twice the required time, with no failure.

2012 and Beyond
In 2012, PFMI is focused on enhancing its existing programs and launching new ones.

A top priority is replicating the success of the ODOT presentation by making presentations to other companies and entities with the potential need for several construction projects that are a good fit for post frame. Also in the works for 2012 is the creation of an interactive online discussion forum for the Post-Frame Advantage website. The forum’s goal is to spur a robust exchange of information and ideas about post frame and its myriad applications.

Finally, PFMI is funding a research project to develop code-recognized standard design methods for shear wall and diaphragms that will establish the design values and tools necessary to bring post frame into the structural engineering mainstream.

PFMI continues to expand its market development efforts through the generous support of NFBA members, whose pledges have been matched by the Binational Softwood Lumber Council. But for PFMI to maximize its influence on a national scale, all post-frame builders must realize that by pooling our resources, post frame can increase its collective share faster than any one builder can by working alone.

NFBA is thus calling on members who have not yet contributed to PFMI to do so. In addition, we are asking post-frame builders who are not NFBA members to join us. For more information about contributing to PFMI or becoming an NFBA member, please call 800.557.6957.

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