Simpson Strong-Tie: Commitment to the Environment and LEED FAQ

Simpson Strong-Tie strongly supports sustainable building practices, such as those established by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, NAHB Green, and state and city specific green building codes. As we learn more about the impact of our actions on the environment, the building industry must continue to adopt practices that reduce the environmental footprint of our built environment at the time of construction and over the structure’s life.

Many of our customers are involved in green building, so we are frequently asked how our products contribute to green building and in particular, how our products can earn credits under LEED® for New Construction and LEED® for Homes Rating System. The following Q&A helps clarify how to use Simpson Strong-Tie products to earn LEED credits. The information may also be used to determine how our products fit in to most other green building systems.

For information about sustainable steel and LEED® and green building with CFS, download LEED with Cold-Formed Steel.

LEED for New Construction and Homes

Can Simpson Strong-Tie products contribute to credits under LEED for New Construction?

Yes. Under LEED for New Construction, Simpson Strong-Tie steel and stainless steel products can contribute to MR (Materials and Resources) Credit – Sourcing of Raw Materials. This credit requires a minimum percentage of the value of the building materials to be made from recycled materials.

Simpson Strong-Tie steel products generally use a high percentage of recycled steel as is common with all uses of this material; steel is the most recycled material in the world. However, because Simpson purchases steel from many suppliers around the world, it is difficult to determine with certainty the amount of recycled content in each of our products. Since Simpson gives no specific information on recycled content, LEED allows a blanket assumption of 25% post-consumer recycled content for any steel item.

Can I use Simpson connectors with fly ash concrete?

Yes. Simpson connectors are rated on the basis of the compressive strength of the concrete.

Do any Simpson products have Environmental Product Declarations (EPD’s) or Health Product Declarations (HPD’s)?

No. At this time, no Simpson product has an EPD or HPD. Check back soon to see if the situation has changed.

What specific Simpson Strong-Tie products can I use to earn LEED for Homes credits?

There are three ways that Simpson products can contribute to credits under LEED for Homes. A variety of Simpson products can be used in Advanced Framing, as detailed in Table I. Advanced Framing contributes to 3 separate credits as described below.

  • LEED for Homes requires that a home meet Energy Star Version 3. A home built under Energy Star version 3 can use Advanced Framing practices to help achieve the Energy Star label. Specifics on how Advanced Framing contributes to the Energy Star label can be found on the Energy Star website.
  • LEED credit MR (Materials and Resources) Material Efficient Framing can be achieved in part through Advanced Framing techniques.
  • Finally, Simpson products can help the structure meet EA (Energy and Atmosphere) credits Annual Energy Use and Envelope Insulation. Simpson products facilitate Advanced Framing methods as described in Table I below. Simpson products enable the attachment of raised heel trusses, even in areas with high wind uplift. And Simpson products can be used in ICF and SIPS construction.

Simpson Strong-Tie products can be used to earn various LEED credits, as summarized in Table I below.

Table 1

LEED Category Description Products

Energy & Atmosphere
Annual Energy Use/Envelope

Envelope Thermal Efficiency

Drywall Stop
Joist Hangers on Rim Joist
Header Hangers
Tie Plate for Single Top Plates
Steel Strong-Wall

Materials & Resources
Material Efficient Framing

Efficient Material Use

Drywall Stop
Joist Hangers on Rim Joist
Tie Plate for Single Top Plates

Energy Star

Envelope Thermal Efficiency

Drywall Stop
Joist Hangers on Rim Joist
Header Hangers

What is Advanced Framing?

Advanced Framing, also known as Optimum Value Engineering (OVE), helps minimize material costs and the use of natural resources by reducing material usage and improving energy performance in wood-frame construction. It does this by eliminating non-structural wood from the frame of a house and replacing it with insulation. Wood provides a “thermal bridge” or a path for conductive heat loss through the building frame. Simpson Strong-Tie structural connectors can be used to reduce thermal bridging while maintaining structural performance.

Advanced Framing has been around for 30 years. Why hasn’t it caught on if it reduces costs?

Advanced Framing requires additional training of framing crews and a small increase in planning the building frame. With low material and energy costs, there hasn’t been sufficient motivation to try something new. With increasing knowledge of our impact on natural resources, however, Advanced Framing is worth another look, since it can reduce material usage and can improve energy efficiency. It’s the perfect time to adopt these techniques across the industry as part of good stewardship of the environment – and to save on construction costs.

Are there other advantages to using Advanced Framing?

Advanced Framing provides a smoother surface on which to hang drywall by reducing contact points with framing that can shrink, bow, or twist. Advanced Framing is well suited to floating corners, which has been found to reduce nail pops. Finally, reducing the amount of framing material used decreases material and shipping costs.

Can I use Simpson connectors with fly ash concrete?

Yes. Simpson connectors are rated on the basis of the compressive strength of the concrete.

How do I get my local inspector to approve Advanced Framing techniques in my jurisdiction?

Advanced Framing details are part of the building code, although many inspectors may not be aware or familiar with the techniques. For more information about Advanced Framing techniques and details, see the website of the Building Science Corporation (www.buildingscience.com).

Does Advanced Framing cost more?

Although earning credits under some LEED categories can increase the cost of building, using Simpson Strong-Tie products for Advanced Framing can actually reduce the cost of construction. The key is providing proper training to framing crews.

In performance modeling a home for credits EA (Energy and Atmosphere) Annual Energy Use, I see opportunities to reduce thermal bridging of the building frame beyond what is required for MR (Materials and Resources) Material Efficient Framing. Do I get credit for those reductions and does Simpson Strong-Tie make connectors to support those additional framing practices?

Framing Factor is the term applied to the percentage of wall area in a wood frame structure that consists of solid members that bridge the gap between the interior and exterior. Reducing the framing factor increases the thermal efficiency of the building envelope, reducing energy consumption. The average home has a framing factor of about 25%. This can be reduced significantly through Advanced Framing and related practices. Simpson Strong-Tie connectors can be used to implement these framing practices, as described in Table I.