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The Department of Energy's Mechanical Insulation Education and Awareness Campaign Takes Off!

The Mechanical Insulation Education and Awareness Campaign (MIC) has achieved critical goals over the past year. The campaign, the result of $500,000 directed through the 2010 Water and Energy Development Appropriations bill to the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) for developing a mechanical insulation education and awareness campaign, has been developed and executed by NIA and the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, working with Project Performance Corporation (PPC). Convention attendees heard updates on the following MIC projects.

Data Collection and Analysis

All data collection has been completed for both the industrial and commercial market segments. Impressive findings in both segments were discovered during analysis of the data, strengthening our message about the importance and value of mechanical insulation.

Commercial Data. Since the commercial segment covers a wide range of building sizes and functions, this initial study's scope was limited to hospitals and schools. Using insulation specifications and quantity take-offs from NIA contractor members, insulation energy assessments were completed for five schools and nine hospitals in varying DOE climate zones across the United States. It is estimated that mechanical insulation in schools saves on average 13 kBtu/sf/yr of site energy (about 20 percent of total use). For hospitals, energy savings from mechanical insulation average 149 kBtu/sf/yr (about 78 percent of total use). These numbers indicate the value of mechanical insulation in commercial buildings and the importance of keeping these systems properly maintained.

Industrial Data. Working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, DOE's ITP, and PPC, NIA reviewed hundreds of Save Energy Now assessments from large and medium industrial/manufacturing plants. It is estimated that mechanical insulation could deliver $3.7 billion in energy savings and reduce 37.9 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually, with a return on investment of 11.3 months (106 percent annual return) from simple maintenance of mechanical insulation in industrial/manufacturing plants. NIA estimates this maintenance work could create 27,000 jobs per year for insulation contractors. Those 27,000 jobs support other industry channels with another 13,000 job opportunities, so the total estimate is 40,000 jobs.

Simple Calculators

Simple Calculators are available FREE on the Mechanical Insulation Design Guide to make common calculations in the design and analysis of mechanical insulation systems quicker and easier. The results page of each calculation can be printed to provide a quick snapshot that demonstrates the value mechanical insulation offers. The calculators are:

  • Condensation Control Calculator for Horizontal Pipe
  • Energy Loss, Emission Reduction, Surface Temperature, and Annual Return Calculator for Equipment (Vertical Flat Surfaces)
  • Energy Loss, Emission Reduction, Surface Temperature, and Annual Return Calculator for Horizontal Piping
  • Financial Returns/Considerations Calculator
  • Time to Freezing for Fluid in an Insulated Pipe Calculator
  • Temperature Drop for a Fluid in an Insulated Pipe Calculator
  • Simple Heat Flow Through an Insulation Calculator
  • Controlling Surface Temperature with Insulation Calculator

In addition, the DOE has committed to converting these simple calculators into apps for handheld devices.

E-Learning Modules

One of the MIC's goals is to educate energy users, specifiers, facility managers, engineers, students, and industry professionals about the energy efficiency gains the increased use of mechanical insulation can provide. By fall 2011, seven modules covering the following topics will be available online:

  • Educational Series Introduction and Defining Mechanical Insulation
  • Mechanical Insulation Science & Technology
  • Benefits of Thinking About Mechanical Insulation Differently—Why Insulate?
  • Mechanical Insulation Design Objectives and Considerations
  • Mechanical Insulation Materials & Systems
  • Mechanical Insulation Installation and Maintenance
  • 3E Plus® Insulation Thickness Software Demonstration

As the release date approaches, more details will become available about each of the modules.

This is definitely an exciting time for our industry. We've only just begun, and with your help our progress is sure to continue. Be sure to check www.insulation.org and the monthly Insulation Advocate for updates.

This article appeared in the May/June 2011 issue of NIA News.

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