Permafrost Foundations


 

 

 

 

CCHRC worked with the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) to study ways of pairing information on permafrost soils with optimal foundation designs. The current method of building on permafrost is to drill a series of intermittent holes in the ground on a given site to search for permafrost, a costly and time-intensive process. Using new geophysical technology allows you survey a field and narrow in on the "cold" spots that are likely to contain permafrost and just drill in these locations (see the thermal image on left). CCHRC used this surveying technique, along with thermal analyses of foundations and soils, to pair up permafrost characteristics with the best foundation technology. CCHRC and CRREL looked at the thermal performace of foundations at CCHRC and the UAF Sustainable Village by studying existing subsurface thermal data. 

The ultimate goal is to develop a systematic and cost-effective way to design foundations based on specific permafrost conditions in order to reduce the cost of construction, maintenance and failure. 

The outcomes of this project include :

  • a report summarizing performance data on novel foundation systems for light commercial and residential structures
  • an early-warning detection system for foundations on permafrost
  • updates to the Engineering Construction Bulletins and Engineering Manuals (UFC 3-130-4)
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Projects

Designs for Rural Alaska Walls Monitoring CCHRC demonstration homes for efficiency and moisture infiltration several years after construction.
Structural Insulated Panels Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are prefabricated building materials used in residential construction in Alaska. This project prepared resources for homeowners who want to learn about SIPs, where they are used in cold climates, and considerations for Alaska.
Safe Effective Affordable Retrofits Testing a new batch of wall systems that can provide affordable retrofit options.
Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) in Cold Climates Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) are whole house ventilation systems that exchange stale indoor air with fresh outside air, recovering both heat and moisture from the indoor air to save energy. They have the potential to improve indoor air quality in a cold dry climate like Interior Alaska.
Thermal Mass Study Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb and store heat energy, which can be useful when it comes to cold climate housing. This project clarifies the role of thermal mass in housing and includes a literature review and energy modeling with IDA Indoor Climate and Energy (ICE) software.