March 1, 2002, Florida home buyers will get more home
for their money. This is the date on which the provisions
of Florida's new Building Code take effect. The residential
energy- efficiency provisions of the new 2001 Building
Code will result in the construction of new homes
that are 4 -15% more efficient. This will mean that
buyers of new Florida homes pay less (each and every
month) to own their new homes. In this time of erratic
energy costs and concerns about the environmental
impacts of energy production, the adoption by the
Building Commission of the 2001 Building Code
represents a "win-win" proposition for everyone.
New 2001 Energy Code
new 2001 Building Code contains important changes
in residential energy efficiency provisions. These
changes will impact both code compliance and, to a
lesser extent, Home Energy Ratings in Florida. This
web page is designed to provide information on what
these changes are and how they may impact residential
building practice in Florida. First, however,
there are some important concepts that must be explained.
Performance-based compliance. At
its heart, Florida's energy code is a whole-building,
performance-based code (Method A). This means that
the building as a whole, rather than its component
parts, must "meet or exceed" an energy efficiency
standard (an energy budget). Although prescriptive
code compliance pathways are available (Methods B
and C), they are based on worst-case Method A analyses
and less than 10% of applicants choose to use them.
This has two very important consequences:
if like more than 90% of applicants, you choose
Method A compliance, there are very few prescriptive
standards that the individual components (walls,
windows, floors, doors, etc.) of your home must
with Method A you may always substitute a high-performance
energy component for a low-performance energy component
as long as you "meet or exceed" the overall
efficiency standard ('energy budget') for your home.
'Baseline' Home. Put most simply,
Florida's 'baseline' home is the geometric twin
of your proposed home (or the 'as-built' home) with
its energy characteristics set to a given performance
standard. In other words, the insulation characteristics
(R-value) of the ceiling, wall, floor insulation,
etc. are set to a specific value for the 'baseline'
home. This 'baseline' home is then used to establish
an 'energy budget' that your proposed (or your 'as-built')
home must "meet or exceed." If your proposed
home uses the same or less energy as the 'baseline'
home then it will comply with the energy efficiency
provisions of Florida's Building Code and it will
be permitted for construction (assuming it complies
with the other provisions structural, electrical,
plumbing, etc. of Florida's Building Code).
is also critically important to understand that the
component performance characteristics given for the
'baseline' home are not required for your proposed
('as-built') home. In other words, 'baseline'
home component performance characteristics never constitute
a prescriptive requirement for the individual components
of your proposed home.
does this mean? Put very simply it means that just
because the 'baseline' home requires R-11 wall insulation,
it does not mean that your proposed home requires
R-11 wall insulation. In fact, your proposed home
can comply with the energy code with R-0 wall insulation
as long as you make up for this low wall insulation
value elsewhere in the home's performance.
2001 Code Changes
Changes. With the above as background,
there are significant changes to the code's 'baseline'
home that will impact the required overall efficiency
of proposed homes in the 2001 Florida Building Code,
effective March 1, 2002. There are three major changes:
'baseline' home heating system has been changed
from electric strip resistance with an HSPF (Heating
Season Performance Factor) of 3.4 to an electric
heat pump with an HSPF of 6.8 for central and south
Florida climate zones.
The north Florida climate zones have always used
an electric heat pump with HSPF of 6.8 for their
'baseline' home so they have not changed. This is
a substantial change for the central Florida climate
zone but not so much so for south Florida where
heating is a very small portion of the annual 'energy
budget' projected by the 'baseline' home.
'baseline' home is assumed to have a "leaky"
air distribution (duct) system.
In previous versions of the Florida Energy Code,
the 'baseline' home was assumed to have a "leak
free" air distribution system. This change
in the 'baseline' home allows homes with air distribution
systems that are tested to be "leak free"
to gain a substantial credit for their improved
duct systems. (See our Code
Officials page for information on how to process
'baseline' home windows have been changed to account
for the improved solar control that is needed in
In previous Florida codes the 'baseline' home windows
had a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient of 0.61 (SHGC
= the amount of solar heat that actually enters
the window compared to the amount that strikes it
on the outside). In the 2001 Florida Building Code,
the SHGC value for the 'baseline' home windows has
been reduced from 0.61 to 0.40. This is a substantial
change for all of Florida's climate zones.
above major changes were effected in order to bring
the 2001 Florida Building Code into alignment with
the 1998 (and 2000) International Energy Conservation
Code (IECC), the prevailing federal standard for residential
energy codes. This was necessary in order for Florida
to be able to certify to the Secretary of the U.S.
Department of Energy that Florida's residential energy
code "meets or exceeds" the standards of
the 1998 IECC.
changes. There are a number of other
changes that will impact code compliance under certain
method of evaluating the energy impacts of "cool
roofs" has been added. This means that you
will now be able to get an energy "credit"
for the impact of certain white roofing products
under the provisions of the 2001 Building Code.
impact of air handler unit (AHU) location has been
modified. Air handler units that are located in
attics will receive a greater energy "penalty"
than in the current version of the energy code.
ceiling 'multipliers' for attic insulation have
been modified to more accurately represent the impacts
of attic heat transfer on the total heating and
cooling energy use of homes.
Radiation Control Coatings (IRCC) 'multipliers'
have been added to the ceiling and duct insulation
'multiplier' tables. Much like radiant barriers,
IRCC are a means of reducing radiation from hot
roof undersurfaces to the cooler attic ceiling insulation
and attic mounted duct systems.
provision to give an energy "credit" for
"factory-sealed air handlers" has been
Does it all Mean?
one thing, as with all things new, it means that there
will be misunderstanding and confusion regarding the
new provisions of the 2001 Building Code. As a result,
you will likely hear inaccurate and unfounded claims
regarding the new 2001 Building Code, even from seemingly
authoritative sources. Let's examine a few examples
that have recently appeared in prominent, widely-circulated
An article entitled "Solar Heat Gain
Is in the News!" that appeared in the Summer
2001 edition of this widely-read magazine states
categorically that "Florida prescriptive requirements
will require SHGC of 0.40 for all windows in the
state effective January 2002." Nothing could
be further from the truth. As clarified above, Florida's
code is performance-based and there is absolutely
no requirement that the characteristics of the 'baseline'
home windows be used for the windows in your proposed
home. The Editor of this publication has been contacted
and asked to print a revision in order to avoid
confusion about Florida's new residential 2001 Building
Florida Building Code and the Florida Home Builder.
This full color brochure was distributed to
attendees of the Southeastern Builders Conference
(SEBC) held in Orlando in July 2001, and has since
been widely distributed throughout the state. Unfortunately,
this publication contains an article entitled "Energy
Code" with numerous misconceptions. Many of
these misconceptions alongside the respective factual
code information can be viewed at SEBC
Facts. The simple truth of the matter
is that these changes mean that Florida's 2001 Building
Code is more stringent than the current energy
code. On the other hand, it is also true that there
are new, cost-effective opportunities for complying
with the 2001 Building Code, like "cool roofs"
and "leak free" air distribution systems,
that do not exist in the present code provisions.
much more stringent is the new energy code? The answer
to this question depends heavily on the Florida Climate
zone you are considering. The greatest overall increase
in stringency occurs in central Florida and the smallest
overall increase occurs in north Florida. As a general
rule-of-thumb (and this will change with the design
of your home), the increases in stringency for the
2001 Florida Building Code may be generally represented
by the following table.
in Code Stringency by End Use and Climate
table deserves some explanation. First, it is important
to understand that the individual End Use stringency
changes are not supposed to add to the Overall stringency
increases. This occurs because each individual end
use makes up a different percentage of total energy
use, depending on climate. For example, heating energy
use makes up 30% of the total in north Florida, 11%
of the total in central Florida and only 3% of the
total in South Florida. Of course, the opposite trend
would hold for cooling energy use.
increases in cooling stringency stem almost entirely
from the fact that the SHGC for the 'baseline' home
windows has been changed from 0.61 to 0.40. One further,
and perhaps counterintuitive, impact of this SHGC
change is the decrease in heating stringency for the
north Florida climate zone. This occurs because the
low SHGC 'baseline' window does not yield as much
wintertime solar heat gain benefit in the 'baseline'
home as does the larger SHGC that is used in the 1997
version of the energy code.
large changes in heating stringency for central and
south Florida are due entirely to the fact that the
efficiency of the 'baseline' home heating equipment
has been doubled. The reason that this change is not
50%, as this doubling might indicate, is the same
as the reason that there was a decrease in heating
stringency in north Florida the lower window
SHGC for the 'baseline' home results in less wintertime
solar heat gain to the 'baseline' home.
the final analysis, these increases in stringency
for Florida's new 2001 Building Code will directly
translate into energy cost saving for new home purchasers.
These energy cost savings will accumulate for many
decades, resulting in lower monthly costs for home
ownership in Florida.
home building also will change somewhat. However,
these changes are unlikely to be as severe as special
interests would have us believe. For example, it will
still be quite possible to build code-complaint homes
with single-pane, metal windows in Florida. This fact
can be clearly observed in the new Method B (prescriptive)
compliance packages, many of which still require only
most often overlooked aspect of Florida's new 2001
residential Building Code are its new provisions allowing
builders to gain energy "credits" for very
cost-effective energy features like "leak free"
ducts and "cool roofs." These are efficiency
features that have been shown through research to
save large quantities of energy in Florida homes.
In central Florida, these two features alone will
garner 13-15% in energy "credits"
often enough to completely offset the increase in
stringency of Florida's new 2001 Building Code.
are two authoritative sources of additional information
on Florida's new 2001 residential Building Code:
on the application of Code provisions and for
Code software support, contact:
Gauge Support Office
1679 Clearlake Road
Cocoa, FL 32922-5703
phone: (321) 638-1492
regarding interpretation and clarification of
Code provisions, contact:
of Community Affairs
Codes & Standards Office
2555 Shumard Oaks Blvd.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-2100
phone: (850) 487-1824
In addition to the above resources, the 2001 Florida
Building Code is available online at www.sbcci.org/floridacodes.htm
(Energy is Chapter 13) and the Florida Building Commission
web site may be found at www.dca.state.fl.us/fhcd/fbc/.