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1.4 Background

A timely opportunity exists in British Columbia to reverse a trend of deteriorating building practice, save millions of dollars per year in energy costs and contribute to provincial climate change goals – the opportunity is the typically unseen insulation on pipes and ducts of heating and cooling systems, known as mechanical insulation (MI). [1]

Non-compliance with standards, plus poor practice, has resulted in wasted money and energy and avoidable greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  Based on an economic analysis of simple case studies that looked at installed costs, maintenance and energy saved, it was found that the costs of fitting mechanical insulation on hot water pipes, for instance, can be recovered quickly – usually within two to five years. In addition, case studies indicate that energy savings associated with pipe insulation can account for a significant proportion of overall building energy consumption. This suggests that without proper mechanical insulation, buildings are consuming more energy, and producing more greenhouse gas emissions than necessary. Yet, mechanical insulation is relatively inexpensive to install.  Generally, the installed costs are less than 1% of the total construction cost.