NIA Works for the Insulation Industry
The National Insulation Association (NIA) is the premier resource for and voice of the insulation industry. Since 1953, NIA has provided practical and useful information about the value of insulation, its uses and applications, and its economic benefits to the commercial, mechanical and industrial markets throughout the United States and beyond.
Today, through its many methods of outreach, training and resources, NIA is bringing insulation to the forefront of “green building,” demonstrating how insulation is one of the best ways for businesses to save energy and reduce operating costs and, in turn, underscoring the organization’s importance and relevance to the industry. This article explores how NIA’s work continues to benefit the insulation industry, as well as professionals in many related fields.
NIA is an organization led and paid for, in part, by its 400-plus member companies, including contractors, distributors, fabricators, laminators, manufacturers and others who provide thermal insulation, insulation accessories and components to the nation. NIA members are some of the leading providers of top-quality products in the industry.
The association’s mission is to enable its members to increase their success and professionalism, grow the industry, advance standards by which the industry operates, and elevate the industry’s image. NIA provides selected services, education, training and information to its members as it works to advance and expand the industry. NIA also represents its members and the insulation industry, as necessary, before the federal government through advocacy, industry labor organizations and other groups.
NIA operates using a committee structure. Committees and task forces review and assess the issues affecting the insulation industry and recommend actions to the NIA board of directors, which then implements solutions.
Six regional associations collaborate with NIA to assist with membership development and outreach activities in the United States: the Eastern States Insulation Contractors Association (ESICA), Southeastern Insulation Contractors Association (SEICA), Midwest Insulation Contractors Association (MICA), Central States Insulation Association (CSIA), Southwest Insulation Contractors Association (SWICA), and Western Insulation Contractors Association (WICA).
NIA also interacts with international insulation organizations through meetings, programs of common interest, and information sharing. These organizations include the Thermal Insulation Association of Canada (TIAC); World Insulation and Acoustic Congress Organization (WIACO); and FESI, the European Federation of Associations of Insulation Contractors.
“By communicating with our regional associations and with the international organizations, we gain a better understanding of what is affecting the insulation markets and how trends are changing,” explains NIA Executive Vice President Michele Jones. “We then relay that information to our members and the industry.”
Outreach Efforts To Nurture and Educate Industry
As the voice of the insulation industry, NIA fosters outreach to other organizations and businesses that affect the industry’s growth and set trends. The NIA Foundation for Education, Training and Industry Advancement is playing the largest part in broadening that exposure. The NIA Foundation promotes the benefits of commercial and industrial insulation to end users such as specifiers, architects, energy managers, plant operators, building owners, facility managers, government agencies and others. The Foundation’s mission is to establish NIA as the recognized authority in the insulation industry, increase industry professionalism, provide educational tools and resources, and increase awareness of the need and benefits of insulation.
Through the Foundation’s efforts, NIA has been able to enter into strategic partnerships with several industry associations including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME); Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC); American Institute of Architects (AIA); Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA); and Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). NIA’s partnership with each organization is customized to meet the needs of the organization’s respective members by providing relevant information that increases their awareness of insulation.
NIA is scheduled to do business presentations at many of these organizations’ chapter and annual meetings. NIA business presentation titles are “Insulation, the Forgotten or Lost Technology,” “Putting the Power of Insulation to Work,” and Innovations in Insulation Materials and Systems.”
NIA recently joined the efforts of the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and its newly established National Mechanical Insulation Committee (NMIC) for Building and Industrial Applications. The NMIC brings together major government agencies, private industry and organizations that are concerned with the design, installation and maintenance of mechanical insulation. NIBS asked NIA to lead this important committee, and former NIA President Ron King is serving as chairman.
The overall objective of NMIC is to identify, develop and disseminate information related to mechanical insulation in building and industrial applications by examining current policies, procedures and practices; identifying research or testing needs; developing recommendations using the best science and information available; providing education and awareness programs as to the merits and value of proper insulation systems; creating a roadmap to implement improvements in design and insulation system selection; and establishing application best practices.
NIA also is an associate member of the Alliance to Save Energy, which is a strong advocate for promoting energy efficiency to achieve a healthier economy, a cleaner environment and greater energy security. NIA is one of more than 90 corporations and business trade associations that work together through the Alliance to promote greater investment in cost-effective energy efficiency. Alliance associates participate in a range of programs and activities, including international trade and investment, the Federal Energy Productivity Task Force, and policy breakfasts with decision-makers and other noted speakers. NIA specifically has been involved in the Alliance’s BestPractices Steam Program and related workshops. Jones is chair of the Best Practices Steam Marketing Subcommittee.
Training and Advancing Technical Knowledge
NIA is the premier resource for seminars, continuing education classes and certifications for professionals who work with and maintain insulation systems.
The Insulation Energy Appraisal Program (IEAP), for example, is a fully accredited, two-day certification program. The program is a major industry initiative designed to give facility/energy managers a better understanding of the true dollar and performance value of an insulated system. The program quantifies the amount of energy and actual dollars a facility is losing with its current insulation system.
To date, more than 350 industry professionals have earned the title of Certified Insulation Energy Appraiser. Accreditation and third-party certification ensures that an energy proposal made by a certified appraiser will be viewed with more respect and credibility than an unsupported bid for products or services.
In the IEAP class, students learn how to evaluate the thermal performance of insulated versus un-insulated piping and equipment; determine the actual amount of energy and dollars a facility is losing with its current insulation system; interview customers to gather information for the appraisal; conduct a facility walk-through; use the 3E Plus® Insulation Thickness Computer Software Program provided by the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA); complete a final customer report; and market their new appraisal skills. The program teaches the appraisers to outline a facility in its current state of energy use and efficiency. They can also demonstrate scenarios that may improve energy efficiency and the environment, as well as save money.
The National Insulation Training Program (NITP) is another two-day program that covers all aspects of commercial and industrial insulation as a powerful technology for enhancing energy, cost efficiency and process performance. The objective is for students to acquire a working knowledge of insulation and insulation system design to avoid costly mistakes that result in system failures and injury of plant personnel. Students learn basic insulation science, systems design and materials, insulation thickness determination, general insulation system installation considerations, the specification process and insulation system maintenance.
NIA also offers a 3E Plus training workshop—a four-hour, comprehensive session that introduces users to all aspects of the 3E Plus software program. Users review program capabilities; the data necessary for appropriate insulation thickness calculations; and how the program calculates the energy, economic and environmental savings when insulation is applied to a process system. They also learn how to take advantage of some of the other options available in the program, such as how to customize insulation criteria by inputting specific manufacturers’ K-values. The hands-on session walks attendees through a series of commercial and industrial insulation system scenarios with various insulating criteria.
Finally, for 50 years NIA has provided its members and other visitors a tremendous opportunity for networking and education at its annual convention. In March 2006, NIA will host its 51st Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas. The four-day event includes committee meetings, industry sessions, technical papers and keynote presentations.
Resources, Products and Services
Through its many resources and publications, NIA communicates its work and accomplishments and provides up-to-date information affecting those in the insulation industry.
In Insulation Outlook, NIA seeks to provide practical and useful information about the value of insulation, its uses and applications and its economic benefits. More than 7,000 professionals hold subscriptions to this premier monthly trade magazine.
The annual NIA Membership Directory and Resource Guide is a vital resource of contact information for all NIA members. The specialties of each contractor, distributor, fabricator and laminator are profiled in an easy-to-read grid, with geographical locations of headquarters and branches. Category charts in the Buyers Guide section list the various insulation products offered by our manufacturer members.
E-News Bulletin, NIA’s electronic means of communicating information, is a free, subscription-based service that delivers up-to-the-minute association news on such topics as training, meeting reminders, program and legislative updates, and more.
NIA’s “Products & Services” brochure provides an unparalleled annual list of publications, resources and services available from NIA and various organizations and companies to help professionals in construction-related trades build on their expertise and expand their knowledge of industry best practices. The “National Commercial and Industrial Insulation Standards Manual (5th Edition)” is one example from the brochure. Because of its wide acceptance throughout the United States and other countries, the insulation specifications and applications in this manual have become established industry standards, making the manual the definitive working tool for professionals involved in commercial and industrial insulation.
One of the most comprehensive resources NIA provides is its website, www.insulation.org. No other source delivers such a broad range of information on both the association and the insulation industry as a whole. Visitors can read current industry news, get updates on featured events and programs, access the membership directory, find out about industry job openings, read the organization’s published articles and research back issues of Insulation Outlook magazine. Visitors can also search the Manufacturers Technical Literature database, download the newly updated “Guide to Insulation Product Specifications,” shop the NIA bookstore, register for classes and much more.
2006 and Beyond
After more than 50 years working with other organizations and government and industry professionals, NIA—through its leaders and staff members—works diligently to raise public awareness of insulation’s critical role in increasing energy savings, protecting plant equipment and personnel, preventing condensation and excess heat and fire hazards, controlling excess noise and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, among other benefits.
“Through the support of our members and industry partners, NIA will continue to promote the value of the industrial and mechanical insulation industry,” says Jones.