Websites that Work
There is so much information on the Internet these days, it is sometimes hard to determine what the most useful and practical sites are for industry information. With so much to choose from, the most vital information can get lost in the search-engine shuffle.
That’s why we’ve done the research for you and determined which sites provide the most useful information on economic research, green building, legislative updates, labor issues, and new technology. Here is what we found.
First Things First
Insulation.org is a one-stop shop for mechanical and industrial insulation industry news, products, training resources, and more. This is the most comprehensive, simple-to-use website devoted to the industrial and specialty insulation industry available. No other source delivers such a broad range of resources on both the National Insulation Association (NIA) and the industry as a whole. Keep up with the latest event information for NIA’s annual convention or Committee Days meetings; search the online membership directory for an insulation professional; or browse the articles database, which is filled with valuable information from Insulation Outlook and NIA News (NIA’s official newsletter). There is also a feature that allows users to e-mail articles to colleagues.
The MTL Product Catalog at Insulation.org allows manufacturers to upload PDF files of their technical literature, and the site allows users access to NIA’s Guide to Insulation Product Specifications and Insulation Materials Specification Guide. The online Bookstore features unique products, such as the “Technical Energy Solutions: The Power of Insulation” brochure, the Insulation Estimator’s Handbook, and the Safety Handbook for Insulation and Abatement Workers. Insulation training programs offered by NIA include 3E® Plus, the National Insulation Training Program (NITP), and the Insulation Energy Appraisal Program (IEAP), and users can register online for all of these training opportunities. Insulation.org users can also sign up to receive NIA’s free E-News Bulletin, which provides up-to-the-minute industry news in an electronic format.
When searching for insulation-related information, Insulation.org is truly the first site users should visit. It is wise for users to bookmark this site on their desktops, so that they can quickly refer to it over and over again.
There are several great sites that provide construction industry economic data. These sites are valuable for various reasons. Here is a list of our favorites:
- The Resource Center at www.construction.com/ResourceCenter from McGraw-Hill Construction provides recently published reports, a directory of useful regional publications, an Industry Watch that details industry trends and forecasts, an industry event listing, and more.
- ENR.com provides construction industry news, plus links to business and labor features. The Construction Economics page at http://enr.construction.com/features/conEco/default.asp provides a weekly price update for four key construction materials along with comments on recent trends.
- Buildingteamforecast.com offers construction forecasts, construction starts, and economic indicators. Along with the latest industry news, this site also provides in-depth employment statistics. Users can click Mann at Work for a summary of construction-related economic announcements from around the Web.
- Industrialinfo.com gives users a worldwide perspective, and it provides vital industry information and analytical tools. The North America Industrial Process & Manufacturing page (www.industrialinfo.com/marketcoverage.jsp?qiSessionId
=D59EC7D5A05F87A68D33643E69DC32B7.mince) covers the Heavy Industrial Process and Manufacturing markets.
It is no secret that one of the hottest trends in the construction industry today is green building. But which green technologies are really practical and cost-effective to implement? Insulation is certainly one. The following websites offer users expanded knowledge about developing green facilities:
- USGBC.org is the U.S. Green Building Council’s website. This site has information on everything from education to expos. Its Green Building 101 is a must-read, and it also offers valuable Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) information at USGBC.org/LEED. The site offers additional green building resources, including publications, research, and online courses.
- Environmental Design+Construction magazine’s website at EDCmag.com focuses in on successful green building projects and how they were accomplished. The GREEN Book at this site is a great resource for architects and designers to find green products and services. It provides an alphabetical listing of suppliers cross-referenced by product name and Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) code.
- Greenbuilder.com is another resource for information on sustainability in design. It provides a Green Building Professionals Directory and links to several other valuable resources.
- The CSI Foundation is now in the process of developing GreenFormat.com, a site that will enable manufacturers to report the sustainability-measuring properties of their products for use by designers, constructors, and building operators. This site will be launched in 2008 and will offer the building industry an easily accessible database of green building products and manufacturers.
The Latest Legislation
It pays to stay updated on legislative affairs at the local, state, and federal levels. The following websites are some of our go-to legislative resources for the latest information:
- According to ASE.org, The Alliance to Save Energy promotes energy efficiency worldwide to achieve a healthier economy, a cleaner environment, and greater energy security. This interactive website provides information for consumers, educators, policy makers, energy professionals, and more. It is a one-stop shop for the latest news and program information, with a goal of extending the world’s energy supplies through increased energy efficiency. Users can subscribe to any of the Alliance’s free news and information services online for the latest energy-efficiency updates.
- For the latest information on science and technology, energy resources, the environment, prices and trends, national security, and safety and health as they relate to energy, there is no better resource than DOE.gov. This site offers Quick Clicks for consumers, researchers, educators, students, and employees. It also offers energy-saving tips, the latest news, press releases from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and a Quick Reference section with valuable industry links. Special features include in-depth articles on state and local news stories, plus a look at global programs and developments. Plus, see how DOE programs are performing with a special report at Expectmore.gov.
- Need the latest information on energy efficiency tax credits? The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association’s (NAIMA’s) website at NAIMA.org offers a wealth of information, including policy updates that affect the insulation industry. Under Federal and State Affairs, users can view the latest federal, state, and international energy activities. This site is also where companies can go for an online application form for NAIMA’s Insulation Quality (IQ) Award, which honors selected metal building contractors who are committed to insulation quality as a key factor in best practices.
A Wider Recruiting Net
The impending manpower shortage in the United States is a real issue for insulation manufacturers, contractors, distributors, fabricators, specifiers, laminators, and other end users. The following websites can be used for recruitment and career development activities, including searching for jobs, advertising positions, and researching job descriptions:
- The National Insulation Association (NIA) offers a Job Board as a free service to its members at www.insulation.org/careers/classifieds/index.cfm. Employers can submit job openings for salaried positions only, and job seekers can search by geographic region. Insulation.org/careers also provides links to an industry overview; a guide to careers in insulation contracting; an overview of distribution and fabrication that highlights various jobs in those sectors; a plethora of human resource forms and documents, such as employee applications, employee termination forms, evaluations, offer letters, and much more; and links to other construction career sites.
- ConstructionJobs.com is a job board and resume database for the construction, design/build, and engineering industries. This site allows employers to post open positions and allows job seekers to post resumes and search for openings of interest to them. The site also provides a Career Center, which offers useful tools like resume writing tips, interviewing advice, job-hunting tips, and negotiating expertise.
- Monster.com might be the most recognized career site available on the Web. Here users can create an account and post resumes, take advantage of the QuickApply feature when they see a job they like, and even participate in job forums and learn about career fairs and other upcoming opportunities. There is also helpful information on education, choosing a career path, and how to pay for school. Employers can take advantage of this massive site by posting jobs, searching resumes, and recommending that employees read some of the useful on-the-job articles that provide valuable tips for top-quality performance. The site also provides hiring tips and trends. According to Monster, the site delivers millions more active job seekers than any other career site. In fact, every day on Monster.com, job seekers post more than 27,000 new resumes and conduct 3.9 million job searches. Relevant job categories include Construction, Mining, and Trades; Architectural Services; Energy/Utilities; Engineering; and more.
- Another useful site with similar job-search features and categories is Careerbuilder.com. In addition to the ability for employees to post resumes and search job openings and for employers to post openings and search resumes, this site will send users job alerts and recommendations, up-to-date e-mails that include the latest and most applicable information that is relevant to them. It also allows users to save jobs and review them again at a later date. It provides career tests and salary calculators, and it offers employers numerous interviewing strategies, hiring solutions, and advice on how to hire high-quality workers.
Looking Forward to the Future
The Internet is always changing, with new information becoming available every day. The following exciting, insulation-related developments are coming soon to a computer near you:
The National Insulation Association (NIA) has taken a strong leadership role in the development of a new resource called the Mechanical Insulation Design Guide (MIDG). This Internet-based guide will be part of the National Institute of Building Sciences’ (NIBS’) Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG), which is housed at WBDG.org. This site already reaches hundreds of thousands of users per month, and the design tree approach the MIDG takes to determining the proper insulation for a project will be a one-of-a-kind online offering. The MIDG will be a comprehensive resource to assist specifiers and other insulation end users in the design and specification of mechanical insulation systems for a wide range of applications. As the name implies, the MIDG is primarily intended to help designers, specifiers, facility owners, and other insulation end users determine the proper types of insulation for the specific needs of their projects. The engineering design process is generally divided into a number of phases along these lines:
- Identify the need or define the problem.
- Gather pertinent information.
- Identify possible solutions.
- Analyze and select a solution.
- Communicate the solution.
For an insulation design project, these phases could be expanded and restated as follows:
- Identify the design objectives. (Why insulate?)
- Identify what is to be insulated. (What?)
- Identify the location and appropriate ambient design conditions. (Where?)
- Identify the materials and systems available. (How?)
- Analyze and determine the acceptable solutions. (How much?)
- Write the specification. (How to?)
So for insulation, the design process boils down to answering these basic questions:
Why insulate? What? Where? How? How much? How to?
The MIDG is organized to help answer these questions. It is divided into the following five sections:
- Design Objectives (Why, What, and Where?)
- Materials and Systems (How?)
- Installation (How?)
- Design Data (How much?)
- Resources (Where?)
Mechanical insulation is important to facility operations and manufacturing processes, and is often overlooked and undervalued. However, the development of the MIDG is a great step toward increasing knowledge and awareness, and providing education to end users who need their insulation questions answered. Look for the MIDG at WBDG.org in early 2008.
- For the latest information from the energy industry, one needs to look no further than www.eere.energy.gov. This U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy site provides information on everything from building technologies to solar energy. It is a great site for staying up to date on energy-saving strategies. One such strategy is the DOE’s Save Energy Now (SEN) program, an initiative that helps American businesses, factories, and manufacturing facilities save energy and thrive despite variable energy costs. To learn more about SEN, visit www1.eere.energy.gov/industry/saveenergynow/index.html. Through SEN, the DOE’s Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) helps industrial plants operate more efficiently and profitably by identifying ways to reduce energy use in key industrial process systems. This innovative program’s Energy Savings Assessments have already yielded major bottom-line benefits and will continue to do so in the future. The information at this site is definitely worth a closer look.
- The Midwest Insulation Contractors Association (MICA) is the author and publisher of the nationally recognized Commercial and Industrial Insulation Standards Manual. This 347-page document is considered the authority on standards for the industry, and now some of the most critical information from the sixth edition of this manual is at www.micainsulation.org/standards/index.php. Use this site for standards for insulation materials, insulation systems, plates, and specification writing.
Information at Your Fingertips
The Internet is arguably the most valuable research resource available today. Not only can it help users see the big picture, with economic and legislative updates, as well as new technologies, but it is also extremely valuable at the individual level, as employees look for just the right workers and association members learn how to participate in their industry. These sites will help even the most hesitant users find just what they are looking for—quickly and simply.