Florida Building Code and Approval Process Update
The numerous compliance paths and varying requirements of Florida’s Building Product Approval (PA) system are subject to revision at every triennial code update cycle. These are implemented by the state’s Technical and Product Approval Team under auspices of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). Mo Madani, CBO, Technical Director for the PA operations, gave an in-depth update on the current state of the program.
There are two paths for product approval: the state path and the local path.
The state path covers approval of all products that comprise the building envelope and structural frame. It consists of four methods. Those involving a 10-day review process are certification under an approved program (such as the AAMA Certification Program) or approval of an evaluation report from a recognized evaluation entity such as the National Evaluation Series or the International Code Council. Those involving a three-month review process are approval of an evaluation report from a Florida licensed PE or architect, or approval of a test report submitted to the Florida Building Commission.
The methods for obtaining local approval are the same, except that statewide approval also counts as local approval.
To have a product approved as complying with the Florida Building Code, the options are:
- Self-affirmation of an existing application if applicable provisions of the code have not changed
- If applicable provisions of the code have changed, revision of an existing application along with new evidence such as a test report
- A new application
Madani also highlighted provisions of the 2017 Florida Building Code (6th Edition), now available online at www.floridabuilding.org. Due to take effect December 31, the code includes a new feature for Quality Assurance Entities that will allow these organizations to manage and update expiring contracts. These entities audit the quality assurance programs of manufacturers and the production quality of products at intervals not to exceed 12 months.
The 2017 Florida Energy Conservation Code is based on the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) – including the new section on Dynamic Glazing – with relatively few Florida amendments for custom doors, testing and labeling, debris impact protection and door component substitution.
Compliance may be demonstrated by adhering to a prescriptive list or by a performance-based method where the building complies as a whole via adherence to the Energy Rating Index (ERI) alternative of the IECC, with the amendment that the prescribed ERI is increased from 52 to 58 in climate zones 1 and 2. ERI is determined per an energy simulation analysis tool.
Madani also noted that interpretation processes are in place and working, with different pathways that produce either advisory or legally binding interpretations of the code to clarify or resolve issues.