This section provides a brief overview of the key performance areas that are relevant to mechanical insulation (not specific to system type), and the types of trade-offs that are encountered.
1. Health, Safety and Noise
Most of these objectives are addressed in the BC Building Code (see the BC Building Code Summary section later):
- Safety, fire and smoke
- Prevention of mould and mildew due to condensation that could have adverse health impacts
- Durability and corrosion protection
2. Reducing Energy Consumption and Energy Cost
In addition to meeting Code and any other minimum requirements, an important decision for designers and ultimately building owners or tenants is the thermal performance (i.e., minimizing unintended heat transfer) of mechanical insulation. This performance affects energy consumption, associated greenhouse gas emissions, and ultimately the long-term operating costs of a building or facility.
There are two suggested approaches to determining insulation thickness and thermal performance:
- A prescriptive approach, using the insulation values recommended in the standards referenced in the specifications.
- A performance-based approach, that meets prescriptive requirements as a minimum but considers economic performance. This approach gives designers the option to better optimize their design choices to balance capital and operating costs, and to consider long term/life cycle economic performance. Refer to the Economic Performance Analysis subsection, later in this section, for guidance.
3. Increasing Equipment Service Life and Decreasing Maintenance Costs
Mechanical insulation best practices can not only increase pipe, duct and equipment service life, but reduce maintenance issues and costs, and help prevent damage to building components. These objectives can be met through:
- Preventing condensation that can damage pipes, equipment and building components.
- Reducing mechanical equipment cycling and helping to maintain the design operating conditions of equipment.