Thermal Insulation is the Hot Topic at High-Performance Building Council Briefing

July 1, 2013

Recently, NIA Consultant
and Past President Ron King moderated the High-Performance Building Caucus
Briefing on “Advancing the Building Industry: Findings and Recommendations from
the Consultative Council,” which was held in a Congressional Office Building on
Capitol Hill. The briefing gathered experts together to discuss this year’s
initiatives and goals, and report on the findings and recommendations from the Consultative
Council’s 2012 Report: “Moving Forward: Findings and Recommendations from the
Consultative Council.” These recommendations are presented to the legislative
and executive branches and can directly influence policy decisions,
Congressional bills and laws, and can impact future building codes and their
adoption rates. The Consultative Council seeks to represent all aspects of the
building industry and works with policy-makers to promote the importance of
high-performance buildings and infrastructure. The success of NIA’s industry
advocacy work was clear in the Council’s report, which adopted many of our
recommendations and called for the use of updated building codes and an
increased use of thermal insulation for mechanical systems.

King is also the Immediate Past Chair of the Consultative Council, and played a
major role in this briefing. As a result of his influence and work on behalf of
NIA, the report specifically recommends that “designers and owners should focus
on how and where to use more, not less, insulation.” Thermal insulation and its
numerous benefits were frequently recognized by the speakers at this meeting.
Pete DeMarco, Chair of the Council’s Energy and Water Efficiency Topical
Committee and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical
Officials’ Council Representative, asserted that thermal insulation was
“cost-effective and underutilized.” Additionally, all the panelists noted that
while the benefits of certain efficiency measures such as insulation are clear,
there is a need for increased research to document and quantify these benefits.
While those in the industry may have known these truths for years, the
importance of insulation is now being recognized by policy-makers and other key
players in controlling bodies. With the bipartisan support of the
High-Performance Building Caucus, the insulation industry is in an excellent
position to promote our interests directly to Congress and President Obama.

Yerkes, Consultative Council Vice Chair and the International Code Council’s
Representative, noted that adopting up-to-date building codes and metrics is a
crucial measure. It is not uncommon for codes to be years behind current data,
and measures need to be taken to shorten the length of time it takes to adopt
new building codes. She affirmed “we cannot afford to keep building the same
way… We have the knowledge… We can do better.” She noted that the pipe sizing
requirements for buildings, for example, are partially based on standards
developed in the 1940s. The Consultative Council will be recommending to
Congress and the President that building codes are updated and implemented, and
they support retro-commissioning, where applicable, towards this

One of the Consultative Council’s findings was that it
was important to keep track of the research occurring in the industry in order
to bolster the claims and thus promote the initiatives of the Council. Accurate
data will be crucial to establishing proper building codes and metrics. It is
essential for policy-makers, code developers, and members of the industry to
focus on funding the research and development needed to prove the benefits of
saving energy and water in buildings through the use of mechanical insulation.
These benefits are largely accepted as true, but the Council has requested that
the industry collect data to show the true effect of increased insulation use.
It is encouraging to see so many of NIA’s recommendations adopted into the
Council’s report and supported by the High-Performance Building Caucus; the
discussion of and advocacy for thermal insulation for mechanical systems and
updated building codes and metrics is unprecedented, and demonstrates that
NIA’s efforts on behalf of the industry are having a real impact.

prominence of thermal insulation in these discussions is a huge victory for the
insulation industry. Only a few years ago, insulation would have been absent
from such discussions. The adoption of recommendations from the Consultative
Council would yield concrete financial benefits for businesses that work with
mechanical insulation. It is a credit to industry leaders, NIA members, and the
Contributors to the NIA Foundation for Education, Training, and Industry
Advancement that thermal insulation has come to the forefront of these discussions
and we will continue to strongly support its increased and proper use.