News & Updates

Extreme Weather Emphasizes the Power of Insulation

Herndon, Virginia—March 9, 2021—The devastating effects of climate change were recently experienced in Texas, Louisiana, and the Midwest. The loss of power and water to thousands of homes, hospitals, schools, energy generating facilities, and water treatment plants resulted in the loss of life and, reportedly, financial losses are greater than from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The National Insulation Association (NIA) volunteers its expertise to help legislators craft state and federal legislation to avoid future climate catastrophes and offers to assist any affected plant or facility with the design of their insulation systems.

“We are saddened by the enormous loss of life and the impact this devastating freeze has had on the commercial and industrial sectors, especially when preventive solutions like insulation were available,” said NIA Executive Vice President/CEO Michele M. Jones. “Properly installed mechanical insulation systems would have been a major asset in helping prevent the catastrophe that has taken place in recent weeks. Insulation is a proven technology that saves enormous amounts of energy and helps protect equipment from freezing. It would have prevented the forced shutdowns of generating facilities and reduced the energy grid overload, all while offering the additional benefit of personnel protection. This event has proven that weatherization and freeze protection efforts should be made proactively in both the commercial and industrial sectors, even in “warm weather’ states. We ask President Biden, Governor Greg Abbott (TX), and Governor John Bel Edwards (LA) to issue executive orders to mandate, at a minimum, proper insulation system installation on domestic cold/hot water; heating hot water; process and fire suppression piping; and equipment and other systems prone to freezing in all industrial, government, commercial, and residential facilities.”

Ron King, Past President of the Southwest Insulation Contractors Association and NIA noted, “The problem is centered around facility owners and engineering firms not appreciating the value of mechanical insulation systems until it is too late. They need to make the installation of insulation a priority—not merely an option—and allocate the resources to implement meaningful programs for installation, inspection, and maintenance of mechanical insulation systems. Now, they are forced to devote financial and human resources to correct the recent damage, but they are still not addressing the bigger problem.”

This weather event proves that plants and facilities in all states are vulnerable to freeze-ups from extreme weather and the mechanical, electrical, process, and fire suppression systems serving their populations must be properly protected to ensure reliable service and process efficiency. “It is not enough to just throw some insulation on before a storm; the piping and equipment must be properly insulated to avoid system failure in critical industries like power generation, water processing, and health care,” said NIA President John Lamberton. “By not properly designing, installing, and maintaining an insulation system, you are just creating bigger, more expensive problems.”

NIA estimates that between 10 to 30% of all installed insulation is now missing or damaged. Not replacing or maintaining an insulation system in a timely and proper manner means these systems will be damaged and fail. However, the results of installing insulation properly are easy to calculate. The return on investment is often more than 100%, and insulation is a green, sustainable technology that prevents greenhouse gas emissions, mold growth, and corrosion under insulation. It protects personnel, facilities, and equipment.

Insulation projects are an investment, and they should be prioritized as essential to avoid emergencies and to protect lives and equipment. The lack of knowledge about the power of insulation and its priority is no longer acceptable. NIA is committed to help improve state infrastructures with the goal of protecting people, systems, natural resources, and investments.

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