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Major Changes to
Florida Building Code Defeated

Building Commission Yields to Advocacy Groups


The Florida Building Commission decided against changes in the building code allowing for the use of vulnerable construction methods for buildings constructed in the state. The commission yielded to the pressure from industry groups, like the NRMCA, who advocate for resilient construction in a region often under siege from natural disasters.

Earlier this year the National Ready Mix Concrete Association joined other like-minded groups to address changes to the Florida Building Code, including a provision to allow certain wood-framed construction techniques to be used in the construction of Florida school board and college buildings. Current policy, section 453.8.3 of the Florida Supplement to the 2015 International Building Code, specifies the construction materials and types to be used in the school buildings, and specifically prohibits wood framing-based construction.

In the aftermath of 1992's Hurricane Andrew, Florida adopted stronger building codes, including efforts to minimize wind and water damage from storms, resulting in the elimination of stick frame houses in south Florida.

"Requiring the use of noncombustible materials that won't rot, mold, or warp, and can withstand the full force of hurricane-force winds, is a no brainer for schools," said Kevin Lawlor, a spokesperson for Build With Strength (an advocacy and education coalition by the NRMCA) . "In Florida, that means concrete, brick & mortar, steel rebar, and not wood-framing."

Fortunately, at the behest of the Masonry Association of Florida, Florida Concrete & Products Association, Florida Independent Concrete & Associated Products, Inc., and other groups committed to durable construction for Florida's future, the proposed modifications to allow wood framing were defeated.

According to a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Concrete Sustainability Hub entitled "A Break-Even Hazard Mitigation Metric," a $10 million non-engineered wood building could be expected to face more than half a million dollars in hazard related damages over 50 years, while a $10 million engineered concrete building is expected to face only $165,000 over the same period.

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February 19, 2019, 4:17 pm PST

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