Mechanical Insulation Education and Awareness E-Learning Series

July 1, 2012

With today’s emphasis on green technology, mechanical insulation
should be in the spotlight. However, often, mechanical insulation has remained
the forgotten technology, due to the general public’s lack of knowledge about
the field. As an industry, our goal is to bridge this gap and make sure that
end users and decision makers are aware of the importance of mechanical

In order to expand awareness of the mechanical
insulation industry, the NIA teamed with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the
International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers
(International) to create the Mechanical Insulation Education & Awareness
E-Learning Series.

Is It?

The Mechanical Insulation Education & Awareness E-Learning
Series is a web-based, interactive, educational tool, designed to provide an
overview of the mechanical insulation industry. It includes a definition of the
industry, descriptions of the different types of materials used as insulators,
a list of the benefits of properly installing mechanical insulation, and much
more. The series consists of five modules that range from 15 to 35 minutes, and
several additional resources, such as a glossary of industry terms and links to
the Simple Calculators. In just over 2 hours, you can complete the entire
series. However, if something comes up, you can stop at any point. When you
want to continue, you can pick up exactly where you left off. This free series
is available at

Module 1:
Educational Series Introduction and Defining Mechanical Insulation

This module provides a short overview of the series, discusses
mechanical insulation in comparison to other types of insulation, and provides
information on the National Institute of Building Sciences’ Mechanical
Insulation Design Guide (MIDG). This module includes interactive demonstrations
of several of the Simple Calculators, including the Condensation Control
Calculator for Horizontal Pipe, the Energy Calculator for Equipment (Vertical
Flat Surfaces), the Energy Calculator for Horizontal Piping, the Mechanical
Insulation Financial Calculator, the Estimate Time to Freezing for Water in an
Insulated Pipe Calculator, the Personnel Protection Calculator for Horizontal
Piping, the Temperature Drop Calculator for Air Ducts, and the Temperature Drop
Calculator for Hydronic Piping.

Module 2:
Benefits of Mechanical Insulation

Properly designed insulation systems can
reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, play an important role
in sustainable design initiatives and safety programs, increase manufacturing
productivity, control condensation and mold growth, and provide an unrivaled
Return on Investment (ROI), so why is it the forgotten technology?
module provides an overview of the advantages of mechanical insulation in the
new construction, renovation, and maintenance arenas when designed, installed,
and maintained properly.

Module 3:
Mechanical Insulation Science and Technology

The power of insulation is based on the physical laws of energy,
and its success lies in the ability of engineers, specifiers, and contractors
to properly design and install the systems. This module presents an overview of
the science of energy and thermodynamics, a more precise definition of
insulation, a discussion of psychrometrics (the study of air and water
mixtures), and a listing of technical mechanical insulation definitions and

Module 4:
Mechanical Insulation Design Objectives and Considerations

Most engineers, architects, specifiers, and
end users are familiar with the use of insulation in home and building
envelopes, but are not as familiar with mechanical insulation used on pipes,
ducts, tanks, and equipment. Mechanical insulation may be used to satisfy the
following design objectives: condensation control, energy conservation,
economic savings, extension of equipment life, fire safety, freeze protection,
personnel protection, process control, and noise control. Design considerations
include abuse resistance, corrosion under insulation, indoor air quality,
maintainability, regulatory considerations, service and location, and equipment

Module 5:
Mechanical Insulation Maintenance

Insulation systems, like all mechanical systems, require periodic
inspection and maintenance. With time, insulation systems can be damaged in a
variety of ways, and, if not repaired or replaced, can become less effective. 

How the
E-Learning Series Was Developed

The NIA teamed with the International to spearhead a mechanical
insulation advocacy campaign on Capitol Hill. The purpose of this campaign was
to allocate funds toward fostering awareness of the mechanical insulation
industry. As a result of these efforts, the federal government allocated
$500,000, directed through the 2010 Water and Energy Development Appropriations
bill, to the DOE. This appropriation was intended for developing a Mechanical
Insulation Education and Awareness Campaign (MIC). Once the funds were made
available, the NIA worked with the DOE (and its contractor, Project Performance
Corporation) and the International to create the Mechanical Insulation
Education & Awareness E-Learning Series. Other results of the MIC campaign
include the Simple Calculators and continued research on the benefits of
mechanical insulation, such as the Montana Pilot Program and the study on
energy benefits from insulating schools and hospitals.


The modules are a free resource, intended for
a wide variety of uses. They can be used as a training resource for companies
and educational institutions; as a marketing tool for potential customers; to
educate decision makers about the importance of mechanical insulation; and to
demonstrate the impact of mechanical insulation when it comes to reducing
energy costs and lowering the expenditure of fossil fuels. No matter how you
fit into the industry, the modules are a great resource for you.


The E-Learning modules are hosted on the National Training and Education
Resource (NTER) website ( NTER provides a platform
that facilitates the development of training in specialized fields, with its
built-in authoring capability and content creation tools (such as 3D
animation). NTER allows subject matter experts to create sophisticated courses,
without needing to have advanced computer software skills. NTER has a single
sign-on and is completely web-based, which means you don’t need to download any
software to use the learning modules. Accessing software from the web (as
opposed to downloading software) makes NTER a safe and viable educational tool.

Open Source

In addition to accessing the modules from NTER’s website, users
can also combine the modules with their own company initiatives, such as
training programs, sales pitches, and industry presentations. Unlike other
platforms, the NTER website fosters the sharing of information by enabling all
users to clone and download programs.

Cloning involves copying the website and launching an identical version,
or clone, on your own server. Downloading means copying the code of the
website onto your computer, which allows you to modify the code, as long as you
have programming knowledge.

A Great Resource

Whether you decide to access the modules from NTER’s website,,
or choose to clone/download the modules, the E-Learning series is great
resource for all members of the insulation industry. It is a fast and effective
way to train new employees, demonstrate the benefits of mechanical insulation
to potential customers, and access great resources, such as the Simple
Calculators. It can educate decision makers about the benefits of the
mechanical insulation, from its unbeatable ROI to its ability to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. If you haven’t checked out the modules yet, what are
you waiting for?