Industry Insights & Newsworthy Articles


The Italian Job: The Invisible (Energy) Thief


The city of Venice, capital of romance, a world travel destination, and the scene of one of the most amazing heist scenes. We know, you’re thinking, what does this have to do with me and my food services warehouse? You just need to keep customer’s food cold, and safe, you’re not trying to rob anybody. Right, but is it possible that you’re being robbed in the process? Stay with us here.

Somewhere hidden in the maze of canals that is Venice, lies a treasure. In a safe, inside of one of Venice’s historic buildings, a trove of gold bars, enough to make a lot of people very wealthy, so, you know the drill. A team is assembled, drivers, muscle, technical experts, and a mastermind. They lay out a plan, timed down to the second. A plan so brilliant, it just might work.

On the day of the heist, the entire city, except for our would-be heist meisters, is completely unaware, which is why the dull thud of an explosion takes everyone off guard, including the actual guards protecting the treasure. As they watch, the floor underneath their precious hoard opens, and the vault drops down, into the canal below, where it falls into a waiting boat.

Through the narrow waterways, the high gloss wooden craft roars, daring banking turns, close calls, scrapes, and a heart pumping pursuit by what feels like every police boat in the city, focused in on this craft, riding low in the water, with the safe enshrouded in a canvas drop cloth, they’re keeping their eyes on the prize.

That may be a bit like you. You’ve noticed the losses, growing slowly over time, as your energy costs, the single largest expense in your line of work after labor, seem to skyrocket. But, over time, the slight rise in energy prices is outpaced by the growing energy USAGE and cost of maintaining your facility, and slowly, you’re starting to notice difficulties in keeping frozen things frozen, and cold things cold. It’s a growing problem that you’re afraid will spiral out of control.

This is bad for you, but it could be worse. Now that FSMA has moved into enforcement mode, the risk is greater than ever. Not only might you lose business to down time, or product to spoilage or contamination, the USDA is extremely serious about you stopping this thief, because, over time, it threatens more than your bottom line, your license could be on the line.

Meanwhile, back to our gold thieves. Back at the scene of the crime, under the murky waters of the historic streets of Venice, shadows are moving. As we drop down, below the surface of the near black water, we see lights, and divers, pulling inflatable sleds piled with gear up to what looks like a giant box. As we watch, the safe cracker moves in, adjusting his dive belt to hover just in front of the vault door.

Within moments, the door swings open, to reveal vague shapes inside, a beam of light piercing down through the darkness casts a glint of gold, the treasure never left the spot where it dropped, while overhead, the entire city seems focused on catching the thieves, it’s all a distraction.

In fact, it’s a lot like our job at Vapor Armour. When we show up, a lot of “fixes” have often been tried to seal off the problem areas. We’ve seen everything from mass amounts of spray foam to panels of wall material, bolted into position as a “Band-Aid” — all as an attempt to stop the flow of warm air.

If you don’t fully understand what we’re talking about, check out our full description of Vapor Drive here. The truth is, all of these seem like logical solutions, but they’re based on a misunderstanding of the full problem. You have your eyes on the boat, while all the while, your energy funds are being pilfered from the safe, which is resting on the bottom of the canal.

The solution in the film, The Italian Job, was simple. The police just needed to follow the safe, down through the hole in the floor, directly to its resting place underneath the house. Had they done it, the movie would have ended early. The dive team would have been thwarted by gun toting guards, prepared to blow them out of the water as they approached. But it’s not really their fault.

Our heist team had done their job, and their work is hidden, it’s invisible. The obvious solution is to catch the boat and get the safe back. That’s what your facilities teams have been doing, while unbeknownst to you, the Vapor Drive spread, and the facility itself, not just where it shows ice, is allowing the air into your building envelope, is creating the potential risk to all your, and your client’s, products.

While your facility’s team focuses on cooling systems, and specific areas of icing and frost, your “treasure” sits under what could be a sheet of ice, that still looks a lot like the well-insulated roof that was installed when your building was constructed.

It seems ironic, that ice is the thing that is warming your facility, but we know, it makes total sense. Water freezes the vapor at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and the vapor will spread into any area near it that air can reach. This creates a type of thermal mass that transduces heat into your facility, in addition to the actual warm air flow, this is creating a seemingly unwinnable battle.

The more you push your systems to keep up, the worse it gets. The more you seal off these areas and lock the moisture in, the more it spreads. That’s why it’s common for us to find most of a roof saturated with moisture. While it looks like an insulated barrier, or a boat full of gold, it’s the distraction, rather than the target.

So, what’s the solution? First, you’ve got to know where the gold is. Chasing the boat is a waste of time, money, and energy. You need a dive team to come in, recover your treasure, and get the funds flowing back in the other direction. So, what can Vapor Armour offer?

First, we need to do a free forensic evaluation. Our case studies outline several of those processes. We frequently find a substantial percentage of a facility’s roof material and insulation has some level of moisture contamination, resulting in a massive loss of R value. The facility itself becomes the enemy once the problem grows past a certain point.

Then we need to abate the problem. The contamination must be removed, and a permanent fix put in place. Ours comes with either a 15-year warranty on our Vapor Armour perimeter installation, or a 20-year warranty if we replace the roofing as well. What does that mean? It means that if this same thief, this ice, or condensation, shows up again, and starts robbing you of energy costs again, we are on-site to remediate at no cost to you. We come back, investigate the cause, and if our product is not working, we replace it. For free. No prorating. 15 years up to two decades.

But it gets better. In a lot of the cases, we work on, we’re not only able to stop the ice and condensation, but we’re proud to be able to say that our product typically pays for itself over a period of a few years. In one recent case that represents a sort of “worst case scenario” by the time our team came on site, the icing was very evident. In fact, even the freezing in their roof insulation was visible. By the time we were done, the Vapor Armour installation itself cut their energy cost by 18%. The new roof added an addition 22%, for a total reduction in energy usage of 40%. This is unusual. What is not unusual is to see savings of 15, 20, or 22% in energy savings. What would that mean for your company?

In the case of a client in Florida, we were able to stop their energy theft to the tune of well over $650,000 per year, repaying the expense of our installation in two years, with 18 years remaining on their warranty, and continued savings throughout that time and into the future. It’s paid for itself many times over. Download our case study, Beware of What You Cannot See for the full report.

In the end, you’re doing the best you can. Just like the police, and the victims of the heist were doing what they thought was right in chasing the decoy boat, you’re fighting with what seems obvious. But Vapor Armour plays in a different realm. We train and expect our teams to be consummate professionals. While others follow that boat, we follow the air. We know to expect the unexpected, and we’d love to put that expertise to use for you, so you and your team can get back to doing what they do best. Give us a call for our free forensic evaluation of your building and see if we can catch that invisible thief known as vapor drive.



We offer the industry’s only 15 year ‘No Ice. No Condensation. No Cost.’ Warranty for all thermal-controlled building that install Vapor Armour™, DOW Deckmate™ Plus Insulation and a roofing system installed by Royalty Roofing