Exacting standards for thermal performance from commercial or industrial insulation continue to be the centerpiece for examination from engineering experts trusted with sustainability at all levels.
Facility managers and industrial plant owners now more than ever are faced with the continuing rise of energy costs and the resulting effect on the bottom line. Because of these challenges, the quest for the right insulation for the proper application has never been more important. What may be right for one application may have dire consequences in another.
In a recent interview on WVSN Reports, Jim Newman of Newman Consulting Group LLC explained this challenge from his own substantial hands-on experience uncovering wrong choices of insulation that continue to lose enormous amounts of energy that cost thousands of dollars:
“What continues to amaze us at our consulting group is that design engineers and facility managers at large, well-engineered and -funded buildings are still confused with proper insulation selections. One concept we were approached with was recycling blue jeans into insulation for exterior walls! The process would be ‘green’ since the jeans are being recycled. This is an example of a green myth. The recycling part sounds good, but if it would get wet, as often happens, the insulation will not work. It’s a bad concept.
“Recently our team visited an eleven million square-foot army base in the state of Georgia. Our mission was an energy audit to discover why the chilled water system was not working efficiently. This required tracing miles of pipe that had been wrapped in fiberglass insulation years ago with the intention of reducing the heat transfer through these miles of pipe for cooling and dehumidification. Our discovery was shocking, but not totally unexpected based on our experience. Thousands of feet of this insulation had long ago fallen off the pipes. We found pipe corrosion to be another problem since moisture had penetrated to the pipe surface through wet insulation.
“The temperature of the water leaving the chillers was 42 degrees F, but by the time this water arrived at the buildings it was supposed to be cooling it was 50-60F. Water at temperatures over 50F doesn’t do a very good job of cooling or dehumidifying in high heat and humidity. It was the wrong insulation for the application.”
When asked what a better choice would be, Newman continued, “Cellular glass insulation would have been a much better choice for many reasons. Number one, it would have remained on the pipes and, since moisture cannot penetrate it, moisture could have not found its way to the pipe surface. So a big step would have been taken toward eliminating the corrosion. In addition, cellular glass would have provided the constant temperature needed to make air conditioning and de-humidification work properly. Lastly, we wouldn’t be digging it up ten years later to see if it had a failure because it should last for decades. At Newman Consulting Group we pride ourselves in the right choices.”
Another benefit of FOAMGLAS: it is truly green — no myth. FOAMGLAS is made from sand, one of the most abundant natural resources on the face of the earth. When the insulation has served its purpose it’s simply removed, can be crushed up and becomes sand again. We call that “cradle to cradle” in the world of environmental responsibility.
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Source: Newman Consulting Group, LLC / WVSN Reports, IndustryVisions