When was the last time you checked the condition of your facility’s mechanical insulation? According to Pete Ielmini, executive director of Heat and Frost Insulators LMCT, investigating the efficiency of your building’s mechanical insulation with an energy audit could lead to a significant return on investment.
Mechanical insulation is typically applied to a wide range of equipment in various commercial and industrial settings, such as mechanical piping, ducts, HVAC systems, refrigeration units, and more. Similar to insulating the walls and roof of a building, insulating machinery protects the equipment (and the people working with or near it) from heat, cold, or moisture.
One of the biggest hurdles standing between modern commercial facilities and adequate mechanical insulation involves improper renovation. When older commercial buildings are remodeled, the previous insulation is frequently removed and never replaced or upgraded.
“Because [mechanical insulation] is overlooked, building owners and facilities managers don’t realize the importance of ductwork and the insulation that goes on in the pipes,” advises Pete Ielmini, executive director of Heat and Frost Insulators LMCT. “If proper insulation has not been done and it’s not working efficiently and the pipe is bare, the mechanical system will have to work longer and harder to pump heat into a room, for instance. And the longer a mechanical system operates, the more the CO2 emissions.”
As Ielmini points out, it’s essential for facilities managers to take the merits of mechanical insulation seriously. There are a lot of good reasons to invest in the best possible mechanical insulation for your facility, including improved energy efficiency, lower operating expenses, enhanced worker safety, and more. Benefits and Challenges of Implementing HVAC Building Automation Systems.
First of all, mechanical insulation has a major effect on worker safety in commercial and industrial settings. By forming a temperature-regulating protective barrier, mechanical insulation reduces the risk of workers being injured when they come into contact with hot or cold equipment during the course of their jobs.
Insulation also prevents condensation from building up on pipes, ducts, or other machinery. Keeping surfaces in your facility dry minimizes the chances of workers slipping and possibly being injured.
Some types of insulating materials can even reduce noise levels, which can help protect employees in noisy working environments against hearing damage, as well as improve their ability to focus and communicate.
Mechanical insulation also plays an important role in extending the lifespan of industrial equipment. Properly insulated equipment is better protected against many of the environmental factors that can compromise the integrity of commercial machinery.
For example, by reducing moisture buildup, mechanical insulation prevents corrosion and lowers the risk of equipment rusting over time. Likewise, improved temperature control enables machinery to operate at peak efficiency at all times, slowing natural wear and tear.
Investing in better mechanical insulation for your facility is also great for your organization’s bottom line. Whether it’s minimizing energy losses or reducing safety liabilities, mechanical insulation can provide all kinds of cost savings.
For example, by identifying the amount of energy currently being wasted thanks to poor mechanical insulation and taking steps to rectify the problem, your facility could see a return on investment of anywhere from six months to two years — that means purchasing and installing better mechanical installation would pay for itself and start generating pure savings in two years or less.
Amendments to the National Energy Conservation Policy Act (NECPA) introduce requirements for all federal buildings to conduct periodic evaluations of their water and energy efficiency. According to the Federal Mechanical Insulation Act of 2023 (FMIA), mechanical insulation energy audits qualify under the definition of energy and water evaluations.
The FMIA defines mechanical insulation property as “materials, facings and accessory products that are part of a mechanical system and that reduce energy loss” from that system. Since proper installation of mechanical insulation is recognized by the FMIA as a viable method of conserving energy and water, it meets the requirements for an energy and water evaluation.
Prioritizing mechanical insulation in your commercial facility is a fantastic way to lower building operating costs, improve worker safety, and increase the efficiency and longevity of equipment. While many facilities underestimate the importance of mechanical insulation, the truth is that investing in high-quality insulation for all your commercial machinery can have a substantial impact on your enterprise’s success.