Volume 50, Issue 11 - November 2015


New Florida Code Change Gaining Lots of Energy

The latest version of the Florida Building Code Energy Conservation (FBC-EC) took effect at the end of June, but as of this fall, the regulation appears to be far from finalized.

FBC-EC increases energy requirements for impact doors and windows, and debate over the last few months surrounding the changes has largely been focused on whether all replacement fenestration in existing buildings must comply with U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) requirements consistent with the Florida Building Code.

In seeking a determination for whether replacement fenestration must comply, Florida-based contractor Frank LaPete, on behalf of the Responsible Energy Codes Alliance (RECA), filed a petition for Declaratory Statement in July. However, a newly formed association, the Impact Window Affordability and Safety Association (IWASA), later intervened to fight the implementation part of the Florida Building Code that relates to doors and windows, citing impacts on businesses.

The seven companies filing the motion claimed that because a significant portion of their work consists of replacing fenestration in existing buildings that are not being renovated (as defined in FBC-EC), they will be required to “incur substantial costs in connection with testing and retooling for new windows.”

According to the original motion, LaPete sought a blanket declaration “that replacement fenestration products in existing structures must meet the U-factor and SHGC requirements set forth in the Florida Building Code, 5th Edition (2014), irrespective of whether the building is classified as a ‘renovated building’ under the code definition.” A “renovated building” is defined as one where the estimated cost of alterations exceeds 30 percent of its assessed value.

Debate over the new Florida Building Code Energy Conservation, which increases energy requirements for impact doors and windows, has focused on whether all replacement fenestration must comply with U-factor and SHGC requirements consistent with the FBC.
Discussion about the petition was set to continue in an October meeting, but LaPete filed a withdrawal statement in September of his original petition.

“[We] are very concerned that continuing the present process would not achieve our goal of producing uniform enforcement of energy conservation requirements for replacement fenestration that is consistent with Florida Statues and the 2014 Florida Building Code-Energy Conservation, but instead would unnecessarily consume substantial resources without a comprehensive final resolution of the issues.”

He added that he withdrew his petition to seek a solution that could achieve a more uniform statewide application of the 2014 FBC-EC—ideally a solution most stakeholders can support.

One code consultant and industry expert who wished to not be named says that those who supply impact-resistant windows have been aware of the eventual changes regarding energy requirements for years.

Some manufacturers, the expert says, have “busted their butts” to develop a product that would comply, while others are “not willing to move with the marketplace.”

Additionally, where the energy requirements are being enforced, pushback is likely to come chiefly in the high-rise residential and multifamily sector and from homeowner associations.

According to the expert, with the current law and precedent “it should come back around to where you’ve got to enforce the [energy requirements] with replacement. But because it’s so political, I don’t know exactly how it’s going to go.”

—Nick St. Denis

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