Generous support and hard work continue
For several years, the Binational Softwood Lumber Council has been a major supporter of NFBA’s Post-Frame Market Initiative, providing 50 percent of the annual funding for the program. In late October 2011, USDA secretary Tom Vilsack appointed 19 directors, all softwood lumber CEOs and industry leaders, to a new Softwood Lumber Board that replaces the Binational Softwood Lumber Council.
Softwood Lumber Board
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service will provide oversight of the SLB in accordance with the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996 and the Softwood Lumber Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Industry Information Order. Under the order, effective January 1, 2012, domestic manufacturers and importers who ship 15 million board feet or more annually will pay an assessment rate of 35 cents per thousand board feet. These assessments will fund research and industry-driven promotion programs.
According to Duncan Davies, president and CEO of Interfor in Vancouver, British Columbia, who was elected first vice chairman, “The Board is committed to funding projects that have strong potential to grow markets and that will bring a significant return on the investments made by [contributing] companies.”
The SLB provided $162,275 (or 50 percent) of the funding for the $324,550 PFMI program in the first half of 2012. The other 50 percent of the funding was provided by NFBA supplier members and building material dealers and by pledges of additional support from suppliers and builders. During this period, PFMI continued to build its educational, research and marketing programs.
First quarter 2012
In January–March 2012, 23 individuals participated in the Post-Frame Advantage Online University on the PFA website (www.postframeadvantage.com), bringing the total number of participants since the inception of the program to 577. Three webinars are offered each month for engineers and architects, with an average attendance of more than 50 at each. Post-event evaluations are very positive. Nearly 100 percent of respondents indicate they will consider post frame for future building projects.
An “Ask the Experts” discussion forum is being developed for the PFA website. Scheduled to launch in June, this forum will allow for the creation and continuation of conversation among architects, engineers and builders and continue to expand the range of options for learning about post-frame construction.
The PFA booth was displayed and educational presentations given at two Wood Solutions Fairs sponsored by WoodWorks. Tremendous booth traffic and a lively interest in post frame were seen at both events. In Atlanta, 64 attended “Structural Design of Post-Frame Building Systems — A Conceptual Presentation” by Harvey Manbeck, Ph.D., P.E. In Baltimore, 98 people attended his “Introduction to Post-Frame Buildings, Constructions and Design.”
Also in Baltimore, a promising contact was made with a visitor to the PFA booth from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. USACE is interested in learning more about post frame for deployment facilities such as meeting spaces, recreation centers and warehouses, particularly in areas with a medium or high seismic zone rating. On May 3, Harvey Manbeck delivered a presentation and held a Q&A session with USACE engineers and architects. This session was designed to build on the success of a 2011 presentation to the Ohio Department of Transportation that convinced ODOT staff members of the benefits of using post frame. ODOT is now promoting its use for the construction of new complexes with costs of approximately $20 million to $25 million.
Design data on steel-clad, wood-framed diaphragms and shear walls
Although lateral design methods for post-frame buildings are available, design data on steel-clad, wood-framed (SCWF) diaphragms and shear walls are not readily available.
A current PFMI research project is intended to experimentally measure the shear strength and apparent shear stiffness of five constructions of SCWF shear walls under monotonic loading, analyze the test data and prepare a technical report.
The common shear-wall constructions to be tested have been identified, including screw or nail size and type, specific gravity of lumber, steel gage and profile geometry and framing member spacing. Lumber was conditioned in the Washington State University Composite Materials and Engineering Center laboratory, an International Accreditation Service–accredited testing laboratory, and CMEC technical staff fabricated test fixtures. Shear-wall testing began in May. A final project report including load and displacement data for five replicated constructions of SCWF shear walls, tabulated shear strength and apparent shear stiffness values for each shear wall construction type and a comprehensive written technical report with test results, analysis, plots and photographs will be completed by June 30.
Advertising the advantages of post frame
The January 2012 issue of Architect, the official magazine of the American Institute of Architects, contained a full-page, color PFA ad. The ad also ran in Building, Design and Construction magazine in the February 2012 issue, which focused on engineered wood, retail and commercial construction, government buildings and town halls.
In the future, PFA print ads will include QR codes that enable readers with smart phones to go directly to the PFA website for AIA-accredited education, design tools, the new discussion forum and more information about post frame.
Following up on the success of the ground-breaking 3-hour fire-wall test in late 2011, a press release was distributed to more than 200 editors, writers and media contacts for building and design publications. One of the most prominent publications, Buildings, posted the press release on its website, which averages 1,455 unique visits by commercial building owners and code officials daily. In addition, another well-known national publication, the LBM Journal, announced the 3-hour fire-wall test results in its print magazine and member e-newsletter.
By June 2012, the results of two surveys are expected. The annual survey of roll formers reports on the use of metal, steel and aluminum panels and trim in post-frame construction. A new study by FMI Corporation will offer a fact-based assessment of U.S. post-frame market size, evaluate market growth trends (2006 to 2011), forecast total post-frame market volume (2012 to 2015), identify key underlying trends and drivers and estimate the current and projected volume of key building components (dimensional lumber, board feet, doors and windows).
As of this writing, NFBA is awaiting a response to its request for funding of $80,000 for education, research and promotional efforts that will mutually benefit post-frame construction and the softwood lumber industry in the second half of 2012. The SLB’s focus is on market development initiatives with clear metrics to measure and evaluate the direct impact of these initiatives. To secure SLB funding, programs need to demonstrate a significant return on investment (based on margin dollars) to the softwood lumber industry through activities that increase demand, generate sales or improve market conditions; protect and maintain softwood lumber markets (such as code and standards work); or develop new uses and applications for softwood lumber.
The continuing support of NFBA members for the Post-Frame Market Initiative is needed and much appreciated.