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Breaking it Down: What you need to know about Florida code changes

It’s no secret in our industry that codes are ever-changing, particularly in Florida, where codes are revised every three years to clarify existing requirements and introduce new ones. The most recent changes went into effect Dec. 31, in accordance with the 6th Edition Florida Building Code.

Based on the 2015 International Building Code, the 2017 Florida Building Code includes an onslaught of change, including clarification of Missile Level E requirements for Essential Facilities, and a switch from ASTM E 1886 and ASTM E 1996 as the baseline standards for impact and cyclic pressure testing. Additionally, criteria for shelters, or Enhanced Hurricane Protection Areas (EHPAs) for K-12 schools have become more stringent and are now tied to ICC 400 - 2014, the Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters.

What does this mean for the glazing industry? How can we properly adapt? The most critical code changes for contractors are those that have impacted test protocols and hurricane-impact protections. For example:

  • continuous air barriers are now required

  • dynamic glazing is outlined in more detail.

As a result of these changes, Florida Product Approvals or FPAs, have also become a more critical piece of the puzzle. Florida Product Approvals are a set of guidelines or conditions that manufacturers’ products must meet to be used in the state of Florida—essentially a stamp of approval marking them certified and tested for use. FPAs can be a huge asset to our industry; however, the specificity of FPAs and the lack of ability to substitute various components can also present a challenge. This makes pre-engineered and pre-tested product options with FPAs critical to quickly and easily meet Florida’s specific requirements.

Additionally, it is important that contractors not take products with FPAs at face value. Manufacturers may have a system that meets Florida codes, but in reality, it may or may not be ideal for a specific project. As codes evolve and FPAs become more critical, ensure that a product with an FPA works for your specific scenario before you bid it.

The takeaway? As industry codes continue to evolve and project timelines seem to speed up, it’s critical to be prepared and aware of code changes, like this most recent one. Ensure a close working relationship with your manufacturer partners and keep an open line of communication to ensure they, too, are staying ahead of new regulations. By doing so, contractors will more likely get the customization and performance needed while staying on track with tight timelines.

Heather Evans serves as Certification Program Engineer at YKK AP America Inc. She joined YKK AP in 1999. Heather spent several years managing and implementing collateral and estimating software before joining the Product Development team in 2016. 

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.