Support of the Joint Foundation Insulation Study Conducted by Robinson Technical Services for Oak Ridge National Laboratory

In 1986, Robinson Technical Services (RTS) submitted a proposal to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to install and evaluate the savings from foundation insulation in twenty single family houses in the Twin Cities. The study was deemed necessary "since foundation insulation is expensive, produces highly variable results, and compared to other retrofit options, is not well understood" (Robinson, 1986). The project was funded by ORNL in 1987. Cooperating in the work were the Minnesota Department of Energy and Economic Development (DEED), the Minnesota Department of Jobs and Training (DJT), the Underground Space Center (USC) of the University of Minnesota, Natural Resources Corporation (NRC), and the Minneapolis Energy Office (MEO).

MEO oversaw ten of the installations through its normal Operation Insulation (OI) program activities funded by Minnegasco under its Conservation Improvement Program. This included the program audit and bid specifications, on-site management, inspection and quality control, program administration, financing, and loan processing. Retrofit costs were paid by the homeowners. NRC provided similar services and paid for the retrofits in the other ten houses through its federal low income weatherization funds. USC and DJT provided $10,000 to MEO and NRC respectively for activities beyond normal program costs, including:

  1. working with other agencies on program design and coordination,
  2. generating, pre-screening and surveying candidate houses, selecting participants and negotiating agreements with them,
  3. training OI staff and contractors on terms of the project, special specifications, etc.,
  4. conducting intensive audits to meet the detailed ORNL protocol,
  5. preparing the test houses for the study, involving primarily sealing air leaks in the basement before the pre-retrofit year,
  6. installing and removing submeters on heating systems and water heaters, and
  7. serving as a liaison to homeowners over the two and a half year project period.

After the first year, it became apparent that a number of additional costs would be incurred that would not be covered by normal OI funds or the agreement with USC. MEO therefore asked Minnegasco to provide additional support for the project as part of its 1988-89 CIP research and evaluation activities. This report discusses the activities supported by Minnegasco and provides a brief overview of the methods and preliminary results of the study as a whole. The final results of the study will be delivered to ORNL by RTS at the end of 1989 and will be available to the public.

Full Report (PDF)
Support of the Joint Foundation Insulation Study Conducted by Robinson Technical Services for Oak Ridge National Laboratory