Bensonwood’s former head engineer Ben Brungraber (aka “Dr. Joint”) enjoys breaking things. In fact, Ben’s alma mater Stanford awarded him a PhD. for research that involved breaking traditional timber frame joints to test their strength. Ben recently spent a lively day in our shop, working with members of our engineering and building systems teams to break prototype headers that we are developing for use in the walls of Unity Homes.
As Unity continues to pursue lowering the cost of high performance homes, we are creating new building systems that are optimized both for our production system and for performance in our homes. This “design for manufacturing” approach is made possible by Unity’s off-site construction methods and our closely-knit team of engineers, architects and fabricators.
Recently our team has focused on finding better solutions for framing and insulating the wall area over windows and doors. Standard framing relies on solid headers and short studs to provide the necessary framing, but that wood compromises the energy performance of the wall. Our Building Systems team, working closely with our engineers, has designed a header that uses wall sheathing and minimal framing to create a hollow but rigid beam—a beam that can be dense-packed with cellulose for optimal insulation. The headers will allow walls to be built more rapidly in our shop, and will also provide advantages for assembly on site. (more…)