Florida’s Major Code Overhaul May Have Little Short-Term Impact

Florida glass professionals are watching to see how a big change to their building code will affect glass installation when the updated code goes into effect at the end of the year. This new Florida Building Code (FBC) is based on the model code of the International Building Code 2012 edition, and is scheduled to be approved in June 2014, and takes effect December 2014.

“Florida has always been notorious for having a lot of specific amendments,” explains Dean Ruark, code compliance manager for PGT Industries, an impact-resistant window manufacturer in Venice, Fla. “Usually all of the amendments that were in the FBC before automatically made it through to the next code. This year, they decided to start with a clean slate and adopt the International Codes as a whole. They said, ‘All of the Florida-specific amendments sunset and if you want them you have to propose them and make a sound argument to get these special items for Florida back in.’ So a lot of these Florida-specific items went away. It’s much closer to the I-codes now.”

Rick De La Guardia, president of DLG Engineering Inc. in Miami, offers a potential explanation for this change. “More and more of the model codes are beginning to adopt most of these amendments themselves, which makes the necessary Florida amendments smaller each cycle,” De La Guardia says. “The exception is the high velocity hurricane zone (HVHZ) requirements, which are the strictest codes.”

Even the use of the HVHZ is being expanded in some areas.

De La Guardia adds, “When a new code goes into effect, it usually adopts the latest of all the typical material standards. With respect to glass and glazing these would include the latest glass standard of ASTM E-1300 and windload standard ASCE 7.”

It’s true that the adoption of ASCE 7-10 redefines wind speeds and design pressures for buildings and, as a result, the use of impact-resistant products. However, this won’t pose much of a change for Florida.

“Florida was the first state to adopt [ASCE 7-10] the last code cycle, so it’s status quo for us this code cycle. It is a huge change for the rest of the country but it isn’t a big change for Florida,” Ruark says.

Since many changes can and do occur between a code’s proposed changes and final approval, nothing is yet set in stone. “The code typically is published with at least a six-month window so that all trades can become familiar with the changes before they take effect,” De La Guardia says.

“At the June hearing, the Commission will look at these drafts in detail and will ultimately vote on whether they approve or disapprove of the drafted language,” explains Beth Frady, M.S., the deputy director of communications for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation in Tallahassee, Fla. Frady notes that it would be premature for the department to provide more background regarding the proposed language in Chapter 24 as the decision to approve or disapprove the draft is still pending.

While Florida product manufacturers and glazing contractors may not face much new following the upcoming code adoption, the potential for big changes in the following cycle is about to increase. The change in ASCE 7-10 led to a change in ASTM E1996, Standard Specification for Performance of Exterior Windows, Curtain Walls, Doors, and Impact Protective Systems Impacted by Windborne Debris in Hurricanes. David Rinehart, North America protective glazing marketing manager for DuPont Glass Laminating Solutions in Wilmington, Del., explains this is in the middle of the voting process now.

“Wind zone 4 in ASTM E1996 is being moved from the mandatory part of the specifications to a non-mandatory appendix as an advisory position. What it essentially is doing —and this is an interpretation—is saying Florida is the only area recognized to have HVHZ requirements, so Florida is going to have to take on the responsibility for providing the code language for the HVHZ. It’s going to strengthen wind zone 3 in ASTM E1996, but who knows how long it’s going to take to get that into the actual building code,” Rinehart says. —Megan Headley

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One Response to Florida’s Major Code Overhaul May Have Little Short-Term Impact

  1. It’s important for structural engineers to design all the way from the members to connectors to anchors, not forgetting about the joinery. Plus, you have to use a glazing system on the exterior that you know is hurricane resistant.

    The changing codes can be a pain for glazing contractors, especially when there are inconsistencies in the construction documents. We often catch things in pre-bid estimating that save a lot of time and trouble down the road.

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