Cleaning Up Industries Through Insulation

October 1, 2005

The 2005 Group of Eight (G8) Summit, as greatly publicized, addressed the issues of climate change, clean energy and

sustainable development. How will this meeting of the world’s eight largest industrialized democracies affect industry?

Probably more than most professionals realize.

Because the United States reportedly has the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita, G8 Summit leaders are asking our

country to participate more actively in improving the global climate. These world leaders also agreed to extend more

resources and consideration toward the use of renewable energy in their own regions. However, as trends and numerous

governmental agency reports reflect, the use of fossil fuels aren’t predicted to decline anytime soon.

U.S. industries are some of the largest consumers of fossil fuels, and as a result, top the list in greenhouse gas emissions.

It should be no surprise, then, that our leaders are seeking to promote already-existing programs—and the creation of new

ones—to clean up the industrial processes that require the use of these fuels; most visibly through the recent passage of an

energy bill.

When locating ways to improve energy efficiency, plant managers consider many plant-wide systems, but none have proven to be

more cost-effective than the insulation system. Insulation professionals, be prepared for a potentially growing market.

Causes and Effects of Global Warming

Evidence of the long-term effects of burning fossil fuels was presented at the ’05 summit ( In the past century, temperatures have risen by 0.6 C and are predicted to

continue rising between 1.4 C and 5.8 C over the next century. This warming causes a domino effect: Record amounts of arctic

ice melt, which causes the sea level to rise, which causes more floods and other natural disasters to occur and more potable

water to become salinated, and so on.

Scientists worldwide believe that most of the warming has been caused by human activity since the mid-1800s because the

amount of carbon dioxide (CO2)—the major gas that causes climate change—in the atmosphere has increased by 30 percent since


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that industrial energy use accounts for nearly 30 percent of total

U.S. greenhouse emissions, which result primarily from electricity use, product transportation, burning fossil fuels to power

boilers and produce steam and using gasoline to power vehicle fleets.

Addressing Energy-Efficient Practices

To address these issues, the G8 leaders agreed, in part, to further promote energy efficiency in their buildings using

existing and newly established building codes and to advance efficiency in industry through better technologies and


Two proven methods of improving industry efficiency are through case studies and plant-wide assessments. These procedures

give plants the opportunity to locate where they are losing energy, where they could decrease greenhouse gas emissions and,

as a result, cut costs and save money.

Numerous resources are available for U.S. plants to assess their facility. The Department of Energy (DOE) has been providing

such procedures—free of charge—through their Industrial Assessment Centers since 1976. Over the years, the DOE has saved

small- and medium-sized American companies more than $700 million through such improvements.

“Surveys done on plants that have had these assessments show that insulation improvements top the list for energy savings,

along with steam-related improvements,” notes National Insulation Association (NIA) Executive Vice President, Michele M.

Jones. “That fact only enforces the mission and 50-year work of the NIA.”

One of the most cost-effective technologies for improving plant efficiency is the insulation system. When plant managers

review their insulation system for maximum efficiency, this can save money with lower fuel costs and reduce plant emissions

as well. More information on locating a certified insulation energy appraiser to perform a plant assessment can be found at