About this course

Building heat loss to the ground is not as straightforward as heat loss to the outdoor air. As buildings become increasingly well insulated, understanding ground heat loss becomes more important. This presentation is for architects, builders, and others who want to have a better idea about how buildings interact thermally with the ground and how to calculate heat loss to the ground.

Starting with with the 2D THERM model of a basement, we'll look at the U factor that THERM calculates for the foundation assembly, and use that to calculate the design heat loss of the basement, and estimate the annual heat loss as well.

We'll do a quick reality check to vet that calculation, then present the simplified Los Alamos algorithms for calculating heat loss from basements and slab-on-grade foundations. We'll apply use these to analyze our model and compare the result with the THERM calculation. We'll discuss how to apply these algorithms to a walk-out basement condition. Finally, we'll look at how to estimate design heat loss in the case where the insulation is in the frame floor over a basement.

Learning Takeaways

  • Learn about relative conductivity and heat capacity of soils vs. air
  • Learn about variations in soil temperature with time and depth
  • See the results of a 2D THERM model of a basement, including the temperature distribution, direction of heat flow, and heat loss rates
  • Learn about using the U factor calculated by THERM to estimate foundation heat loss
  • Learn how to do simplified heat loss calculations for basements, slab-on-grade, and walkout basement foundations
  • Learn how to estimate design heat loss through an insulated floor to a basement below

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Course outline

1 module • 6 assignments • 1:00 hours of video lectures

Module 1 • 3 assignments
Understanding and Calculating Building Heat Loss to the Ground

  • "Understanding and Calculating Building Heat Loss to the Ground" (1 hour) (01:00:36 hours)
  • Lecture slides (.pdf)
  • Recording of lecture audio (MP3) (.mp3)

Continuing Education Units

Approved for the following CEUs



  • Marc Rosenbaum

    Principal, Energysmiths
    View profile

    Marc Rosenbaum, P.E. uses an integrated systems design approach to help people create buildings and communities which connect us to the natural world, and support both personal and planetary health. He brings this vision, experience and commitment to a collaborative design process, with the goal of profoundly understanding the interconnections between people, place, and... Learn more

Frequently asked questions

How does this course work?
This is a free course. Enroll today and get access to all of the materials instantly. The lecture video and other materials are available any time. After successfully completing the course, you will be able to generate a certificate of completion.
How long do I have access to the materials?
For free courses there is no guarantee for how long the course materials will be available.
Is there a certificate of completion?
Yes, when you complete this course you are eligible for a certificate of completion from HeatSpring. You can download your certificate as soon as you have completed all of the course requirements. Students can easily share their verified certificates on their LinkedIn profiles using our LinkedIn integration.
Can I register multiple people?
Yes, this is a free course so you can share this page with other people from your group.


Based on 94 reviews
students have taken this course
Liz M

Highly recommend this course to anyone interested in better understanding heat loss calculations for below grade.

Eli Roxby

I got good info.

Charles Stroup

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