In many ways, the state of Florida is one of the leaders in influencing building and energy code development and implementation throughout the United States. And with fenestration being a crucial piece in the energy puzzle, the industry has a keen eye on what is happening in the Sunshine State.

Code expert Arlene Z. Stewart of AZS Consulting talks to IGMA 2015 Winter Conference attendees about updates to the Florida energy code.
Code expert Arlene Z. Stewart of AZS Consulting answers a question from a IGMA 2015 Winter Conference attendee about updates to the Florida energy code.

Last Friday, attendees of the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) 2015 Winter Conference were treated to a presentation by Florida code expert Arlene Z. Stewart of AZS Consulting. Stewart gave an update on the new Florida energy code, which goes live in just a few months.

Florida doesn’t label its code by year, so the new energy code is the “Fifth Edition,” or version five, as Stewart refers to it. The new code, which is laid out like the 2012 IECC with separate residential and commercial chapters, goes into effect June 30.

Stewart highlighted some key changes, including a shift in climate zone. Zone 1, the most southern zone, was expanded to cover more ground to its north. Additionally, she says other basic changes are that the new code no longer utilizes a multiplier, and that there is a penalty for using more than 15 percent glass, but no benefit of using less.

The commercial side of the code added ASHRAE 90.1, and Stewart said that trend should continue in other parts of the country. “I think the national design firms are going to attempt to start using ASHRAE 90.1,” she said. “… All computer modeling programs have to be approved by the Florida Building Commission.”

In the new code, the 30-percent rule also has new clarification. The Florida statute says the energy code does not apply to renovated buildings where changes are less than 30 percent of the assessed value of the building.

Meanwhile, Stewart said code requirements for residential windows require an IG unit, and with impact resistance on one side of the glass. For commercial, she said the numbers are very similar and just as stringent. “I would argue it’s an even bigger challenge getting IGU certified into commercial windows,” she said.

Additionally, she touched on IECC 2015 and said the industry is already getting its first look at it in some states including Maryland, Vermont, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Montana, as well as the city of San Antonio.

Stewart explained that the increase in stringency has a direct impact on the IG market because windows can make or break calculations and certifications. “Sometimes, the only way to find out about glass is through IG certification,” she said. “So there may be more activity on compliance coming your way.”