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Virtual Joist Girder Table User Guide for Designing with Joist Girders (using STAAD Pro)

1. Introduction
1.1 Purpose
1.1.1

Joist Girders are custom designed trusses designed and manufactured for use in specific
locations on specific construction projects. The Project Structural Engineer of Record
(SER) provides the Joist Girder designation as well as any special loads or other design
criteria. The Joist Manufacturer designs and manufactures the Joist Girder to meet the
specified project requirements.

1.1.2

There are many instances where the SER has a need to incorporate the Joist Girder into
the structural model of the overall building design. For example, in designing a lateral
load resisting frame using Joist Girders, the SER must include the Joist Girder in the
frame model, and must provide member end-moments and member end-forces to the
Joist Manufacturer for incorporation in the final Joist Girder design.

1.1.3

The process requires good communication between the SER and the Joist Manufacturer
to ensure compatibility between the Joist Girder design and the overall frame design
model. Historically, the coordination process has been hampered because the SER did
not know, at the time of modeling the overall building structure, the design properties for
the Joist Girder.

1.1.4

The Steel Joist Institute (SJI) has developed a table that provides the approximate section
properties for Virtual Joist Girders for use by the SER in preparing the building structural
models.

1.2 Definitions
1.2.1

The Virtual Joist Girder section properties do not represent any specific Joist Girder
design. Rather, they are equivalent-beam section properties based on top and bottom
chord material sizes commonly available from most Joist Manufacturers and common
relative stiffnesses of chord members to web members.

1.2.2

The tabulated Virtual Joist Girders do not represent the final Joist Girder design and
cannot be used to specify the Joist Girder design requirements. However, they do yield
reasonably close approximations of the final Joist Girder chord area, effective moment of
inertia, and weight, for use in the structural models.

1.3 Intended Use


1.3.1

The intent is for the Virtual Joist Girder tables to be used in the design models through
use of the STAAD Member Selection and Code Check functions. Using these functions,
STAAD treats the Virtual Joist Girders as though they were custom wide-flange beams,
and makes appropriate member selections, as well as displaying section properties and
calculating approximate weights.

1.3.2

Once an appropriate Joist Girder depth selection is made using the Virtual Joist Girder
tables, the SER must specify the Joist Girder design requirements using conventional
Joist Girder nomenclature, as directed by SJI Standard Specifications and Code of
Standard Practice, as well as any special loading requirements.

1.3.3

If the Joist Girder stiffness (effective moment of inertia) is significant to the overall
building structural model (such as in a lateral load resisting frame), then the SER must
specify the Virtual Joist Girder moment of inertia as the target Joist Girder effective
moment of inertia, along with directions to notify the SER if the final Joist Girder design
moment of inertia varies by more than 10% from the target value.

2. User Table
2.1 Representative Versus Actual Sections
The cross-sections defined in the user table file, as furnished by SJI, are intended to be
representative of some of the sections in use by, or available from, Joist Manufacturers. The
specific sections used to generate these tables are not necessarily stock sections for any given
Joist Manufacturer. They are included as a guide in the design of structural systems using Joist
Girders, and have been demonstrated to yield results reasonably close to the final Joist Girder
designs.
2.2 User Table Format

First Line Property units


Second Line Member classification
Third Line Virtual Joist Girder designation, Example - VJG20-1 (20 inch deep Virtual Joist
Girder with chord combination #1)
Fourth Line Designated Virtual Joist Girder Properties (listed below in table order). For
detailed information regarding the Virtual Joist Girder Properties, refer to Section 8.
Ax
D
TD
B
TB

Total Area of Top and Bottom Chords (in2)


Virtual Joist Girder Depth (in)
Web Thickness (in)
Flange Width (in)
Flange Thickness (in)

Iz
Iy
Ix
Sz
Sy
Ay
Az
Pz
Py
HSS
DEE

Virtual Joist Girder Strong-Axis Effective Moment of Inertia (in4)


Virtual Joist Girder Weak-Axis Moment of Inertia (in4)
Torsional Constant (in4)
Section Modulus About Strong-Axis (in3)
Section Modulus About Weak-Axis (in3)
Shear Area in Y Direction (in2)
Shear Area in Z Direction (in2)
Plastic Modulus About Strong-Axis (in3)
Plastic Modulus About Weak-Axis (in3)
Warping Constant
Depth of Web (in)

Repeat third and fourth line for each available Virtual Joist Girder.
3. User Table Implementation
The following instructions are applicable for the use of the Virtual Joist Girder user table in
STAAD.Pro.
3.1 Installing User Table File
1. Create directory (folder) for STAAD.Pro design files that will be using the Virtual Joist
Girder user table.
2. Place a copy of the user table file into the same directory.
3. If design files are saved in a separate directory from the user table file then the file path
must be appended to the user table file name in order to access the user table data.
3.2 Activating User Table (One method described. See STAAD documentation for other methods)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

In Modeling mode select Tools.


Select Create User Table.
In the pop-up window select the New Table button.
Checkmark the External Table box and select the Browse button.
Select the user table file and click Open.
In the Select Section Type drop down menu, choose General and press OK.
The user table should automatically be given a number. Press Close.

3.3 Assigning User Table Data (One method described. See STAAD documentation for other
methods)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

In Modeling mode select the General tab.


In the Properties Whole Structure window, select the User Table button.
Choose the previously assigned user table number.
Select a section and assign the appropriate material
Select Add and close the window.

6. Assign Virtual Joist Girder sections from the Properties Whole Structure window in the
same manner as with ordinary member sections
4. Virtual Joist Girder Material Properties
The sections defined by the Virtual Joist Girder table use the same material properties as
structural steel, with the exception of density, which is 15% higher, to account for approximate
weight of web members and miscellaneous materials. The explicit material properties are listed
below.
Youngs Modulus (E) = 2.9e+007 (lb/in2)
Poissons Ratio (nu) = 0.3
Density = 0.333 (lb/in3)
Thermal Coeff (alpha) = 6e-006
Critical Damping = 0.03
Shear Modulus (G) = 1.1154e+007 (lb/in2)
5. Virtual Joist Girder Bracing Condition
To achieve the best performance for the Virtual Joist Girder approximation, all Virtual Joist
Girder members must be modeled with an Unbraced Length of zero. During testing, it was
found that setting the unbraced length to zero yielded selection of Virtual Joist Girders with
properties closest to the final Joist Girder design properties, for conditions with normal Joist
Girder loading and bracing. This recommendation does not apply (and could be unconservative)
for very unusual conditions, such as a Joist Girder being used in a lateral load resisting frame
with no joists attached to provide intermediate lateral support.
6. Selecting an Appropriate Span/Depth Ratio
In using the Virtual Joist Girder Tables, it is important to select only girder depths that are
appropriate to the span. The span of the girder should be no less than 12 times its depth and no
more than 24 times its depth. Usually, the most economical selections have a span/depth ratio of
between 12 and 18.

7. Recommended Communication between the Specifying Professional and the Joist


Manufacturer
7.1

Managing Girder Self-Weight

7.1.1

Standard SJI procedure is for the SER to include the approximate Joist Girder self-weight
in the Joist Girder design loads provided to the joist manufacturer.

7.1.2

As an alternative, if the Joist Girder self-weight is not included in the specified design
loads, then the Joist Girder design specifications must include a note to the joist
manufacturer stating that Joist Girder self-weight is not included in the specified design
loads and must be added to the Joist Girder designs.

7.1.3

In order for the Virtual Joist Girder selection properties to match the final Joist Girder
Design properties as closely as possible, it is important to ensure that Self-Weight is
included in the STAAD analysis and member selection. This can be easily managed in
STAAD via the use of the Member Self-Weight load option, so that the member SelfWeight is automatically updated with each design iteration.

7.2

Joist Girder Stiffness Accuracy for Moment Frame Design and Analysis

7.2.1

Since the Joist Girder stiffness (effective moment of inertia) is significant to the overall
building structural model in modeling a lateral load resisting frame, for these conditions
the SER must specify the Virtual Joist Girder moment of inertia as the target Joist
Girder effective moment of inertia, along with directions to notify the SER if the final
Joist Girder design moment of inertia varies by more than 10% from the target value.
Note that this is the effective moment of inertia, which is the Joist Girder chord moment
of inertia divided by 1.15, to account for the reduced shear rigidity of the open web
system. To avoid potential confusion, it is very important to denote this value as the
target Joist Girder Effective Moment of Inertia.

7.2.2

If the final Joist Girder effective moment of inertia varies from the Virtual Joist Girder
model value by more than +/- 10%, the joist manufacturer is to alert the specifying
professional, for model accuracy verification.

7.3

Joist Girder Designation


The Joist Girder Designation specified by the SER on the contract structural drawings
must follow SJI convention from the SJI Standard Specifications for Joist Girders and
Code of Standard Practice for Steel Joists and Joist Girders, NOT the Virtual Joist
Girder designation from the STAAD selection. For example, if a VJG22-20 Virtual Joist
Girder is chosen for use in the structural model, this is NOT an appropriate Joist Girder
designation for the structural contract drawings. Rather the Joist Girder designation on
the contract structural drawings must follow standard SJI convention, such as
22G5N10K. Please reference the SJI Standard Specifications for Joist Girders and SJI
Code of Standard Practice for Steel Joists and Joist Girders, for more information on
appropriate Joist Girder designations.

7.4

Chord Axial Loading and/or End Moments from Wind or Seismic


For specification of Joist Girder design loading information that includes chord axial
loads and/or end moments from wind or seismic, reference Chapter 6 of SJI Technical
Digest 11, Design of Lateral Load Resisting Frames Using Steel Joists and Joist
Girders.

8. Virtual Joist Girder Section Properties

Ax:

Total Area of Top and Bottom Chords Sum of top and bottom chord areas

D:

Total Virtual Joist Girder Depth

TD:

Web Thickness Total Depth/30; Ensures that the section is treated as "compact" when
considering web shear.

B:

Flange Width 2*Chord Angle Leg + 1" Chord Gap

TB:

Flange Thickness (Chord angle thickness)/(chord angle leg) * B/2; This value results in
the correct width/thickness ratio when STAAD checks (B/2)/TB.

Iz:

Virtual Joist Girder Strong-Axis Effective Moment of Inertia Classically calculated


Moment of Inertia of the Chords divided by 1.15 to account for deflection effects from
the joist web members.

Iy:

Virtual Joist Girder Weak-Axis Moment of Inertia 2*Top Chord Moment of Inertia;
Based on flange (chord) that would typically be in compression.

Ix:

St. Venant Torsional Stiffness - Equals summation of

for each of the angle legs

making up the Virtual Joist Girder chords.


Sz:

Section Modulus About Strong-Axis Minimum Chord Area*Virtual Joist Girder


Effective Depth; Reduces the over-estimation of chord (flange) stresses. The method
substitutes an "effective section modulus" based on a stress distribution used in classic
truss theory of uniform stress distribution across the cross section of the member.

Sy:

Section Modulus About Weak-Axis Section modulus of top chord; a reasonable


conservative value used when Joist Girder is used in out-of-plane bending. Note that it is
not recommended to apply out-of-plane loading to joists or Joist Girders, and if this is
done it must be carefully coordinated with the Joist Girder Manufacturer.

Ay:

Shear Area in Y Direction Ax*.25; Based on an approximation of the shear area used in
SJI spec's for chord shear checks.

Az:

Shear Area in Z Direction Ax*.25; Based on an approximation of the shear area used in
SJI spec's for chord shear checks.

Pz:

Plastic Modulus About Strong-Axis Equals Sz; Stress distribution is always uniform
across the chord in classic truss analysis, whether in a plastic or elastic state.

Py:

Plastic Modulus About Weak-Axis Unity; is not a significant factor in current analysis.

HSS: Warping Constant approximate based on chord elements

DEE: Depth of Web Equals Top Chord Angle Leg Length. Note that for wide flange girders,
DEE is equal to the girder depth 2 k. For the Virtual Joist Girder tables, a value large
enough to ensure that web buckling will not likely control the member selection is shown
in the tables.