SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1990

The Most Needed Building Foundations Research Products


This paper describes a research program targeted towards the significant potential for energy savings from improved residential building foundations design. A recent study at the University of Minnesota estimates that less than 5% of foundations in the present building stock are optimally insulated. In addition, this study indicates that the potential national savings from upgraded basements, crawl spaces, and slab-on-grade foundation systems in residential and small commercial buildings is about 0.5 quads/year (0.523 × 1018 J/year).

This research program is based upon a research needs assessment developed by the Building Foundations Research Review Panel. This panel was established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to assist in the formulation of DOE foundations research policy and the development of a technology transfer strategy to get this research to the marketplace. Half of the panel members are from private industry.

One of the first tasks the panel addressed was to formulate a prioritized list of building foundation research needs.

Building foundations research needs include: widescale dissemination of existing information on good practices for energy-efficient construction and retrofit, accurate characterization of the thermal properties of soils, validated foundation heat and mass transfer algorithms coupled into whole-building simulation models, an experimental data base from one or more well-characterized test sites, and design tools to effectively transfer the results of research into practice.

Author Information

Christian, JE
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN
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Developed by Committee: C16
Pages: 655–662
DOI: 10.1520/STP23337S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5109-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1278-0