Volume 36, Issue 9, September 2001


The Florida Building Code
               It's Not All About Hurricane Protection

As much of the focus on Florida building codes pertains to its guidelines regarding hurricane protection, the new Florida Building Code, which will be effective January 1, 2002, has important energy provisions of which the industry must be aware. The new code incorporates the Florida Energy Efficiency Code for Building Construction (FEECBC) within the Florida Building Code - Building Chapter 13. Federal law requires state energy codes to be at least equivalent to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), 1998. The Energy Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) compared the existing energy code to the IECC and found the IECC to be more stringent. Modifications were proposed to make the Florida code equivalent to the IECC.

The comparison between the IECC and the FEECBC revealed the Florida code was less stringent than the IECC (South Florida was 6 percent less stringent, Central Florida was 9 percent less stringent and North Florida was 5 percent more stringent).1# According to Department of Community Affairs estimates, the changes increase the overall energy code stringency by 4-5 percent for the North Climate Zones, 16-19 percent for the Central Climate Zones and 10-12 percent for the South Climate Zones.#2

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient
The use of SHGCs was mandated to comply with federal law. Changes include the establishment of a SHGC of 0.4 for the baseline home statewide. Products are required to establish their SHGC by testing in accordance with the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) or by using default values contained within the code.Some in the industry believe the defaults provided are low enough that there is little incentive for a manufacturer to do the necessary testing. Further, it has been stated that alternatives provided to comply with the code are less expensive than upgraded windows.

The program approved by the state, EnergyGauge® FlaRes 2.0, reportedly applies a U-factor of 0.50 for all climate zones. The program is being upgraded to version 3.1 which will contain a U-factor of 0.47 for the central portion of the state. According to Dennis Braddy, executive director of the Architectural Manufacturers Association of Florida (AMAF), there is much consternation within the Florida industry regarding the fact that U-factor is being reported as the minimum for the Central Climate Zone (0.47). 

Braddy maintains that during the code development process, the U-factor discussed by the Energy TAC for residential application in the Central Climate Zone was 0.74. AMAF now reports it has been advised that EnergyGauge® FlaRes 3.1 will apply a U-factor of 0.47 for windows in the Central Climate Zone. “The imposition of a 0.47 U-factor is a step backwards for Florida,” Braddy said. “The change requiring the use of a U-factor of 0.47 for windows has the potential for eliminating the aluminum window industry in Florida … We will address the commission with our concerns.” 

Testing and Labeling
The Florida Building Code requires testing and labeling for the energy performance of fenestration products by an accredited, independent laboratory in accordance with NFRC procedures.

The Florida Energy Efficiency Code for Building Construction was incorporated as the Florida Building Code - Building, Chapter 13. In order to comply with federal law, modifications were made to the code to make it equivalent to the IECC, 1998 edition. The code increases overall stringency for residential applications by 4 to 5 percent, 16 to 19 percent and 10 to 12 percent in the North, Central and South Climate Zones, respectively. The code as modified exceeds the IECC and is deemed equivalent in compliance with federal law. The fenestration industry is concerned with certain aspects of the code and has expressed the intention to address the Florida Building Commission with its concerns. 

1. Source: Proposed Modification to the Base Code for Inclusion in the Florida Building Code, Item # ENERGY050, Proponent: Energy Technical Advisory Committee, Rationale.

2. Source: Presentation by the Department of Community Affairs to the Architectural Manufacturers Association of Florida April 4, 2001, Orlando, FL.

3. Interview with Dennis Braddy, executive director of AMAF, June 21, 2001. 

Joseph D. Belcher serves as president of JDB Code Services Inc. in Orlando, Fla. His column appears monthly.


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