Education & Awareness E-Learning Modules  

by the National Mechanical Insulation Committee (NMIC)

Updated: 
11-21-2013

The Mechanical Insulation Education & Awareness Campaign, or MIC, is a program offered by the Department of Energy in conjunction with the National Insulation Association and the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers. Mechanical insulation can play a significant role in reducing facility energy loss and saving money in the process. Insulation also provides excellent return on investment, workplace safety, environmental protection, condensation control, and noise control.

The MIC is a program to increase awareness of the energy efficiency, emission reduction, economic stimulus, and other benefits of mechanical insulation in the industrial and commercial markets. The potential of mechanical insulation to play a significant role as a tool to reduce energy intensity is immense. However, the lack of sufficient data to support energy efficiency potential, combined with a deficient understanding of what mechanical insulation is and how it could be utilized, impedes policy makers and participants in industrial and commercial sectors in making a supportable case for increased use and maintenance of mechanical insulation.

While current uncertainties hinder mechanical insulation from playing a larger role in energy efficiency decisions, the MIC was created to meet two key initiatives:

  • Educate industry on and promote the benefits of mechanical insulation by providing practical data and case studies outlining potential energy savings provided by mechanical insulation installation;
  • Launch an aggressive public education and awareness campaign to combat climate change and improve energy efficiency.

As part of the MIC, a series of educational e-learning modules have been developed to educate industry on and promote the benefits of mechanical insulation by providing practical data and case studies outlining potential energy savings provided by mechanical insulation installation. The National Institute of Building Sciences' Mechanical Insulation Design Guide was a major resource in the development of the e-learning series. The modules are designed for both industrial and commercial markets utilizing mechanical insulation systems for piping and equipment in both hot and cold applications, refrigeration and other low-temperature piping and equipment applications, as well as Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) applications. Each of the modules was developed for the following audiences:

  • Corporate Executive Management
  • Design Professionals (General, Mechanical, and Process Engineers & Contractors)
  • Energy and Environmental Consultants, Service Companies, and Teaching Professionals
  • Facility Owners and Managers, across all industry segments including manufacturing
  • Federal, State, & Local Energy and Environmental Offices
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Designers and Contractors
  • Maintenance Managers and Coordinators
  • Mechanical Engineering Teaching and Other Design Professionals
  • Mechanical Insulation Industry Participants (Manufacturers, Distributors, Contractors, etc.)
  • Refrigeration Designers and Contractors
  • Utilities/Energy Supply Companies (All types)

Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or Professional Development Hours (PDHs) are available with the completion of the course from Bradley University.

The Mechanical Insulation Education &Awareness E-Learning Series is hosted on the Department of Energy's National Training & Education Resource website, www.nterlearning.org, and on the Whole Building Design Guide website, www.wbdg.org.

Following is an overview of each course module:

Module 1: Educational Series Introduction and Defining Mechanical Insulation

Provides an overview of the Mechanical Insulation Education & Awareness E-Learning Series, discusses mechanical insulation in comparison to other insulation segments, and provides information on the most comprehensive evolving web-based resource developed for mechanical insulation, the National Institute of Building Sciences' Mechanical Insulation Design Guide (MIDG), including demonstrations of the online simple energy, financial, condensation, safety, and other calculators available within MIDG.

Module 2: Benefits of Mechanical Insulation

"Why insulate?" is a complex topic with multiple components. Insulation can reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, increase available carbon credits, be an important part of sustainable design initiatives, be part of safety programs, increase manufacturing productivity, reduce corrosion under insulation, control condensation and mold growth, and provide an unrivaled return on your investment, so why is it a forgotten technology? This module provides a general overview of the power of mechanical insulation in the new construction, renovation, and maintenance arenas when designed, installed, and maintained properly.

Module 3: Mechanical Insulation Science & Technology
Insulation is applied but rarely engineered. With the best intentions, but not necessarily with thorough knowledge, many specifications have evolved over the years primarily based upon modification of old documents. This practice, combined with the lack of mechanical insulation educational and awareness programs about the value of having a properly engineered, installed, and maintained mechanical insulation system, has led to the underutilization of mechanical insulation in energy conservation, emission reduction, process and productivity improvement, life cycle cost reduction, personnel safety, life safety, work place improvements, and a host of other applications. This module discusses the principles of understanding energy, what insulation is, how insulation works, psychrometrics, and mechanical insulation definitions and terminology.

Module 4: Mechanical Insulation Design Objectives and Considerations

Most engineers, architects, specifiers, and end users are familiar with the use of insulation to reduce heating and cooling loads and control noise in building envelopes. Insulations used for pipes, ducts, tanks, and equipment are not as familiar. As a result, mechanical insulation is often overlooked, undervalued, or improperly specified and maintained in commercial and industrial construction projects. Mechanical insulation may be used to satisfy one or more of the following design objectives: condensation control; energy, economics, and the environment; fire safety; freeze protection; personnel protection; process control; and noise control. In addition, a number of design considerations may require attention when designing a mechanical insulation system: abuse resistance, corrosion under insulation, indoor air quality, maintainability, regulatory considerations, service and location, and service life. On some projects, multiple design objectives and considerations must be satisfied simultaneously. This module discusses each of these objectives and considerations.

Module 5: Mechanical Insulation Maintenance

Insulation systems, like all mechanical systems, require periodic inspection and maintenance. While inspection and maintenance are the responsibility of the facility owner, most insulation systems are frequently ignored. With time, insulation systems can become damaged for a variety of reasons and, if not repaired or replaced, can become ineffective. Understanding the benefit of timely and proper maintenance can provide a significant return on investment.