Glass, glazing and window manufacturers have until the end of the year to submit applications for product approvals under the 2020 Florida Building Code (FBC) to ensure their products will continue to be for sale in the state next year. To guide its members through the process, the Fenestration & Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) hosted a webinar titled, “The Florida Product Approval Program – How FGIA Can Help.”
Jason Seals, FGIA certification services manager, explained that the product approval process was implemented in 2003 in compliance with the 2001 FBC. The 2009 update, which complied with the 2007 FBC, is the approval process used today. The new update complies with the 2020 FBC. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) began accepting applications in July 2020.
“All applications and product approvals currently approved under the 2017 FBC must now be updated under the 2020 FBC in order to continue being available for sale in 2021,” said Seals. “…The deadline for product approvals is January 1, 2021. If it’s not updated by then it will not be available for sale in Florida next year until it is updated. That means the number of applications is going to increase dramatically as we get closer to the deadline. Manufacturers should begin submitting their applications now.”
Another reason for manufacturers to submit their applications this year is that the DBPR will waive application fees for those submitted by December 31, 2020, according to Seals.
There are four methods for product approval in Florida:
- Certification mark of listing (Method 1a);
- Test report (Method 1b);
- A product-evaluation report from an approved evaluation entity (Method 1c); and
- A product-evaluation report from a Florida professional engineer (PE) or registered architect.
Seals said that Method 1a is the most common method for fenestration manufacturers. This method is intended for products certified under an accredited certification program (ACP). Products certified under the AAMA air-water-structural certification program are eligible for this option. The minimum required documentation is a certification agency certificate (APC) and installation details. A PE stamp of installation detail is not required if a manufacturer is only documenting the tested installation.
Seals said that more than 80% of fenestration products are approved using Method 1a. He explained some of the benefits of using this method with FGIA, such as not having to compete for time with manufacturers who are not FGIA licensees. If not using FGIA a manufacturer would have to forward all associated documents such as test reports, APCs, waivers of retest and installation details, which Seals said takes time. FGIA will have many manufacturers’ documents filed. Seals said the organization’s goal is to review applications within a week of submittal.
“The average review time to validate takes about 30 minutes … If there are no corrections, then we validate it and, after validation, the DBPR will review it within ten days. You can get your application approved in as little as two weeks. The other methods aren’t as accommodating when it comes to time,” said Seals.
He explained that Methods 1b or 1d require that a manufacturer be added to the meeting agenda for the full Florida Building Commission, which meets every six to eight weeks. Product approval meetings will be held October 1 and December 7.
Method 1d is used for products that aren’t eligible for certification or not practical for traditional certification programs. A PE or architect must generate an evaluation report and installation instructions detailing the design pressure, sizes, limits of approval, etc. The evaluation report takes the place of the APC and the engineer or architect takes the place of the certification agency. Products undergoing Method 1d approval also must employ an approved quality assurance agency, such as FGIA, to verify the product is being made as it was approved on the Florida product approval system.
Changes to the 2020 FBC
Several standards and specifications have been removed from the seventh edition of the FBC. Those include: AAMA/NWWDA 101/I.S.2-97, NAFS-02, NAFS-05, AAMA 501-94 and -05, AAMA 506-11, AAMA 711-07, AAMA 714-12, ASCE 7-10, ASTM E1886-02 and -05, and ASTM E1996-05, -6 and -09.
If a manufacturer’s current product approval references a standard/specification removed from the code they have two options:
- Retest to a standard/specification referenced in the code; or
- Upload a letter of equivalency from a Florida-registered PE.
Standards and specifications added to the new 2020 FBC include: NAFS-17, AAMA 506-16, AAMA 711-16, AAMA 714-15, ASTEM E1996-17 and ASTM F2090-17.