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Originally published in High Profile

Mechanical Insulation is Essential for Strategic Cost Savings for Mass. Health Care Facilities

Healthcare facilities manage strict budgets, and are often forced to make tough decisions about where to allocate precious resources. In the new world of COVID-19, those resources are under unprecedented strain, and hospital owners, developers and facility managers are under even more pressure to be smart about expenses.

Research shows that professionally-installed mechanical insulation, when done right, is a crucial investment for large, mechanically-intensive facilities like hospitals, to optimize energy efficiency and generate massive cost savings.

study by the National Insulation Association (NIA) yielded that proper mechanical insulation can save a hospital 149 kBtu/sf/yr of energy per year on average, which is 78% or more of total energy use. That translates to up to $85 billion in savings annually, a shocking total that would indisputably be better used toward patient care, staffing, and critical PPE for caregivers.

When one considers the vastness of mechanical system applications in a hospital’s operations, versus many other commercial facilities, it becomes clear that energy efficiency must be top of mind for hospital operators. For example, the NIA noted that hospitals, which typically operate around the clock, year round, rely on steam and water for sterilization, humidification and laundry utilities. Hospitals must also ensure that the air in the facility is clean, filtered, and properly ventilated at all times, and that moisture, which feeds bacteria and fungus, is controlled, to maintain a safe environment for at-risk patients. All of these systems can be exponentially improved with the presence of quality mechanical insulation.


 

Mechanical insulation minimizes the energy required to achieve the right conditions for various operations, by controlling the environment through which air, gas, water and steam must travel. It directly prevents the condensation that would create unclean air in the facility. And in addition to saving hospitals millions of dollars on energy costs annually, mechanical insulation also extends the lifespan of other machines within the hospital, which caregivers rely on each day for patient testing, by ensuring that the machines don’t need to overwork in order to meet the conditions needed to perform.

Hospitals in Boston, some of the best in the world, depend on mechanical insulation to keep their budgets lean. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the state has not yet taken advantage of these benefits. So, why is mechanical insulation, which is the most obvious way to save money on energy, overlooked in many Massachusetts hospitals?

It’s because, to save money on the bottom line, a developer might mistake insulation for an unnecessary expense. But for hospitals and other commercial facilities that rely on heavy machinery to operate, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a penny wise, dollar foolish mistake.

In any health care setting, every dollar counts. But in the case of mechanical insulation, the return on investment is so high that it becomes an imperative step for all health care facilities to take. Most hospitals do insulate their systems, at least in part, because without insulation, the energy and distribution systems loss would be so significant that the facility wouldn’t be equipped to sustain operations.

But there is also a critical gradient in quality of services available that must be taken into account when a hospital does choose to insulate its systems. The insulation trade is an unlicensed profession in the Commonwealth, so it is important to do your research and have a full understanding of the product you are receiving before potentially hiring an unqualified team that won’t ultimately be able to deliver the cost savings you seek.

For more information on how much your facility could save on energy costs each year with mechanical insulation, visit the Whole Building Design guide, which has a series of helpful calculators on its website.

Massachusetts thanks our front-line caregivers for their heroic and critical work throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Mechanical insulation is one small way to make sure that a health care facility’s resources are preserved.

Jim Lister is business manager/financial secretary at Heat & Frost Insulators Local 6.

 
 
 
In development and capital planning, we all know there are consequences in cutting corners. An expense that was cut in the beginning phases of a project to save money, may ultimately negatively impact the bottom line. Cutting corners, when it comes to mechanical insulation, is a huge “penny wise, dollar foolish” mistake, in both the long and short term.
 
Today, we see energy costs skyrocketing, yet many people overlook the most obvious steps to being more energy efficient. Professionally-installed mechanical insulation is a simple way to help you go green, saving you energy and money. And your return on investment begins immediately after installation. 
 
Whether you are developing a project for another buyer or planning to keep your building for years to come, professionally-installed mechanical insulation guarantees the highest possible property value.
 
That’s because your mechanical systems work around the clock, 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Professionally-installed mechanical insulation prevents these systems from being senselessly overworked – saving the owner money by the minute. It will protect your heating and cooling systems from mold and condensation, ensuring the long-term protection of that equipment and avoiding future costs. And since the potential consequences of improper insulation are serious health hazards, having the proper systems in place to prevent these issues also extends the life of the entire building. 
 
Installing the proper insulation maximizes the effectiveness of heating and cooling systems and helps to significantly reduce energy loss. Reduced energy loss means increased efficiency, which saves you money and is better for the environment. 
 
The Massachusetts legislature is poised to pass a bill that will penalize building ownersby way of significant taxes, in exact correlation to the property’s carbon footprint. Where it is more prudent than ever to be more environmentally accountable, professionally-installed mechanical insulation is a necessity for any serious buyer, or developer. 
 
At Insulators Local 6, our highly-trained professionals employed by a select network of industry-leading contractors add value to clients across industries – medical, higher education, biotechnology, commercial ventures, industrial projects and more. We are ready for any challenge, and handle a broad range of solutions: Mechanical Insulation, Hazardous Waste Remediation, Firestopping, Sound Attenuation/Quiet Systems and Specialty Fabrication. 
 

Insulators Local 6 sets the standards for New England’s insulation industry, where a lack of proper licensing allows shoddy contractors to make a quick buck, by delivering what is ultimately a useless product to clients. By contrast, our team of professionals are certified by the U.S. Department of Labor and stand as a preferred source of labor on the Massachusetts’ COMMBUYS list, and the MassSAVE contractor lists. 

When you partner with Insulators Local 6, you’re guaranteed to have the highest-trained, safest team of professionals on your team. Our professionals will ensure that the job is done right and on time. 

 
And when done right, mechanical insulation is not an expense; it’s an investment.