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Out of Sight,
NOT Out of Mind
Specifying thermal insulation below-grade and under-slab
by Ram Mayilvahanan
All photos courtesy Insulfoam
IN THE PUSH TO FORGE MORE ENERGY-PRUDENT
BUILDINGS, DESIGN PROFESSIONALS ARE LEAVING
NO PART OF THE ENVELOPE UNEXAMINED. WALLS
AND ROOFS HAVE ALWAYS PRESENTED A CLEAR
TARGET FOR BETTER THERMAL PERFORMANCE.
SOMEWHAT LESS OBVIOUS ARE SURFACES THAT
ARE OUT OF SIGHT—BELOW-GRADE FOUNDATION
WALLS AND FLOOR SLABS. WELL-ENGINEERED
INSULATION IN THESE LOCATIONS CAN PROVIDE
SIGNIFICANT ENERGY SAVINGS.
What separates below-grade insulation types from one another?
Moisture retention, R-value stability, and compressive strength
are the key performance attributes to consider when evaluating
and comparing different below-grade insulations.
Installing thermal insulation on below-grade foundation or
perimeter walls and under slabs is important because un-
insulated concrete provides a thermal and moisture bridge
between the heated building interior and the relatively cooler
earth surrounding the building, or through exposed slab edges
to the outside air.
34 the construction speciﬁer | december 2013
2013-11-14 2:39 PM