Government Energy Incentive Legislation: Don’t Forget Mechanical Insulation

Mechanical insulation is frequently forgotten when discussing insulating as a means of improving energy efficiency.  This is because Mechanical insulation is very “out of sight, out of mind” as it is installed on systems that are either hidden in accessways and specialized rooms, or in hard to reach places. As a result, when that insulation is missing, damaged or able to be upgraded – it is often not identified by the facility owners for the dramatic energy savings that could be realized.Mechanical insulation encompasses all thermal, acoustical, and personnel and life safety requirements in Industrial and Commercial Building applications, including:

  • Mechanical piping and equipment, hot and cold applications
  • Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC) applications
  • Refrigeration and other low -temperature piping and equipment applications

There are currently two pieces of legislation recommending a tax deduction as a means of encouraging the upgrading of mechanical insulation is new construction and retrofit projects:

House of Representatives Bill 4296 -Mechanical Insulation Installation Incentive Act of 2009:

  • Encourages the use of mechanical insulation beyond the minimums in new construction and retrofit applications,
  • Encourages increased maintenance of mechanical insulation systems

This is based on facts regarding mechanical insulation installation methods, such as:

  • The thickness of mechanical insulation has not substantially changed in 20 years
  • 10-30% of all mechanical insulation is missing or damaged within 1-3 years of initial installation
  • Computer modeling programs for buildings do not include specific modifications to adjust for increased mechanical insulation
  • In a 4-year mechanical engineering program, less than 1 hour is spent on thermal insulation

 Senate Bill 3716 – Bipartisan Mechanical Insulation Tax Bill 

  • Offers a 30 percent deduction over five years for companies that go beyond ASHRAE standards for mechanical insulation in new construction, maintenance and retrofits.

S. 3716 could be included in broader energy tax legislation this fall – the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010 – which is likely to pass by December.  Senators are more likely to include a tax incentive for mechanical insulation if they hear how this will help business and create jobs.

The beneficial impact to our economy related to the increased use and maintenance of mechanical insulation in commercial building and industrial applications has been overlooked for decades.  That needs to change. 

The National Insulation Association has developed a comprehensive action plan to build support for Senate Bill 3716.  Contact your Senators or the NIA to offer support.

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