NIA in Action:
The National Insulation Association (NIA) believes that the insulation industry is facing not only difficult challenges but a tremendous opportunity, provided by the government’s efforts to stimulate the troubled economy. With some of the economic recovery package focused on boosting energy efficiency in buildings and reducing energy use, the time is ripe for bringing mechanical insulation into the spotlight.
NIA has joined numerous other construction industry advocates to push for stimulus spending that will help not only the insulation industry but the country as a whole. These efforts add to NIA’s ongoing work to increase awareness of the value of mechanical insulation. NIA agrees with President Barack Obama’s statements about the necessity for energy efficiency upgrades:
“When people suggest that ‘What a waste of money to make federal buildings more energy-efficient’—Why would that be a waste of money?
“We’re creating jobs immediately by retrofitting these buildings…. So that right there creates economic stimulus, and we are saving taxpayers, when it comes to federal buildings, potentially $2 billion…. And we’re reducing our dependence on foreign oil in the Middle East. Why wouldn’t we want to make that kind of investment?”
Working with the DOE Transition Team
Thanks to the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, NIA was able to present a white paper to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) transition team for the incoming administration advocating for mechanical insulation to be included in any economic stimulus package.
Union representatives were invited to meet with members of the DOE transition team. They invited NIA to join them and make a presentation on December 11, 2008, about mechanical insulation’s possible role in an economic stimulus package. The presentation was well received, and the resulting joint white paper was included in the transition team’s report to incoming DOE officials.
The white paper, available online at www.insulation.org, explains the undervalued benefits of mechanical insulation. Data on insulation’s effectiveness and the opportunities for improvement has been collected by the DOE’s Industrial Technologies Program.
The white paper proposes that mechanical insulation be included in any energy conservation or economic stimulus package in several ways, including:
- Provide tax incentives to private industry to implement insulation maintenance and upgrade initiatives over the next 4 years
- Provide subsidies to the government, private, educational, and health-care industry segments to implement maintenance and upgrade programs over the next 4 years
- Implement immediate maintenance and upgrade programs in all federal facilities
- Provide shared cost programs for states to implement immediate maintenance and upgrade programs in all state facilities
- Work with industry manufacturers to encourage development of new technologies to improve insulation efficiencies
- Work with government agencies and private industry to establish stand-alone insulation codes and regulations
“NIA is grateful to the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers for the chance to contribute to the transition team’s knowledge of mechanical insulation and to advocate for its inclusion as part of an energy conservation or economic stimulus package,” said Michele M. Jones, Executive Vice President/CEO of NIA. “Mechanical insulation has long been overlooked as an energy conservation technology, and insulation maintenance and upgrade projects are a simple, cost-effective way to both add ‘green’ jobs and reduce energy use.”
Reaching out to Congress and the Administration
NIA then joined the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, and many other building design and construction organizations to urge Congress and the administration to include institutional and public building construction in the economic stimulus package.
The group sent two letters to then-President-Elect Obama: one outlining the benefits of including the building design and construction industry in any economic recovery package and the other urging that targeted tax provisions—such as an energy-efficiency credit, depreciation bonus, and increased Section 179 expensing levels—also be included. NIA Executive Vice President/CEO Michele Jones represented the association in a meeting and conference calls to draft the letters and marketing materials, which are based on construction data for specific areas that should be included in the package.
On January 7, 2009, AGC testified before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee during a forum on an economic recovery plan and job creation and recommended a full range of economic stimulus activities, including infrastructure investment and tax policies that would have an immediate positive impact on economic activity.
The group also ran ads in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, urging that schools, hospitals, courts, and government buildings be included in the stimulus package.
The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Obama February 17, 2009. It contains $497 billion in direct spending and appropriations, and $290 billion in tax provisions, with spending focused on construction projects, renewable energy projects, education, and making public buildings more energy efficient. Tax credits for businesses include increasing the amount small businesses can write off and tax cuts for companies suffering losses. The President’s Council of Economic Advisers estimates 675,000 construction industry jobs could be created by the stimulus package.
In addition to AGC and NIA, the following organizations joined in signing one or both of the letters:
- Air Conditioning Contractors of America
- American Institute of Architects
- American Subcontractors Association
- Associated Equipment Manufacturers
- Association of the Wall and Ceiling
- Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing
- Construction Owners Association of America
- Finishing Contractors Association
- International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers
- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
- International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
- Mechanical Contractors Association
- National Electrical Contractors Association
- National Ready Mixed Concrete Association
- National Roofing Contractors Association
- National Union Insulation Contractors Alliance
- Plumbers and Fitters International Unions
- Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors
- Portland Cement Association
- Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association, Inc.
- The Association of Union Constructors
- United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
Sheet Metal Workers International Association
Raising Awareness Today and Tomorrow
NIA and its Foundation for Education, Training, and Industry Advancement have long been working to help the industry, government, and public understand the benefits of and need for mechanical insulation. (For a list of all NIA presentations and their locations, go to www.insulation.org/locations.) The new Mechanical Insulation Marketing Initiative (MIMI) draws together industry marketing experts from Foundation contributors who have outlined a set of goals and approaches to raise the profile of mechanical insulation on a much broader scale than has ever been attempted before.
Now NIA has contracted with a highly respected public relations firm, GolinHarris, to help get the message heard both on the Hill and throughout the country. Research to quantify insulation’s benefits will lay the groundwork for meetings with congressional staff, the first step toward making policymakers aware of the potential contributions mechanical insulation can make toward energy efficiency and the reduction of greenhouse gases. This process should eventually lead to funds being directed toward programs that include mechanical insulation.
The objectives of the national campaign include:
- Raising awareness of the value of mechanical insulation to potential customers
- Making mechanical insulation a part of any serious policy conversation on energy efficiency
- Yielding multiple direct sources of federal funding and support for programs and for NIA members
- Increasing the use of mechanical insulation in both new and old facilities
NIA is working closely with other organizations, such as the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, and seeking strategic partners on this campaign to promote the insulation industry and increase the public use and knowledge of mechanical insulation.