Important Energy Conservation Changes in New Florida Building Code

The 2020 Florida Building Code 7th Edition went into effect on January 1, 2021 and with it, came new codes, new costs and new procedures.

Any project submitted to a jurisdiction on this date (Jan. 1, 2021) will have to conform to the new 2020 code. In the fourth and final installment of a blog series aimed at examining these code changes, we’ll take a look at impactful changes in energy conservation code.

These changes are important as we look to address project scope and identify additional costs for our business and potentially, our customers.

Here are some key changes to take note of:

  • Commissioning is now specifically listed as a compliance requirement in order to pass the energy code. Commissioning is described in Section C408 of the Florida Building Code (see link below to download full PDF with specific details).  This will increase building costs for our clients and our fees to implement the commissioning specification. Some important updates included:

C401.2 Application

Commercial buildings shall comply with one of the following:
1. The requirements of ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1, excluding section, section 8.4.2 and section 8.4.3 of the standard.
2. The requirements of Sections C402 through C405 and Section C408. In addition, commercial buildings shall comply with Section C406 and tenant spaces shall comply with Section C406.1.1.
3. The requirements of Sections C402.5, C403.2, C404, C405.2, C405.4, C405.5, C407 and C408. The building energy cost shall be equal to or less than 85 percent of the standard reference design building.

C401.2.1 Commissioning
Commercial buildings and tenant spaces shall comply with Section C408 as applicable.

  • The efficiencies of CP’s most commonly designed HVAC systems (rooftop units and DX split systems) has increased. This will increase building costs for our clients.
  • Group R-1 occupancies (hotels and motels) containing over 50 guest rooms require temperature set point controls and ventilation controls. The temperature set point controls consist of cooling set point increase or heating set point decrease if the room is unoccupied for a certain period of time.  The ventilation controls consist of turning off the room ventilation if the room is unoccupied for a certain period of time.  This section of the 2020 Florida Energy Code (C403.2.4.8) should be reviewed during the schematic design phase of the project and made known to the client as this will be a construction cost increase as well as a fee increase for CP.
  • DX cooling units (rooftop units or split system units) greater than 65,000 BTU per hour (5.4 tons of cooling) are required to have indoor air fan control (no less than 2 stages) to reduce the quantity airflow. The added control will increase building costs to our clients.
  • The Refrigeration Equipment Performance section of the code has been rewritten in its entirety. New equipment efficiency charts have been added.  The clients that utilize refrigerated equipment should be made aware of these changes and be advised to contact their refrigeration consults for additional data.
  • The Minimum Efficiency of Water-Heating Equipment efficiency chart has been changed in its entirety. Contact the water heater manufacturer to verify the selected unit meets the 2020 code efficiency requirements.
  • Lighting controls code application now has two options; provide lighting controls as specified in the code or provide luminaire lighting level controls and in addition meet only specifically identified lighting controls.
  • Occupancy sensor controls have been added to the 2020 code for open plan office areas.
  • Interior lighting power allowances for both the building method and the space-by-space method have been reduced. This should not cause any increase in building costs as most clients currently use LED fixtures which are very low power consumers.
  • Exterior lighting allowances for building exteriors has been reduced. Again, this should not cause any increase in building costs as most clients currently use LED fixtures which are very low power consumers.
  • Minimum nominal motor efficiencies have increased. This should not cause any increase in building costs as most equipment manufacturers incorporate high-efficiency motors into their equipment.
  • Building commissioning has been divided into two parts: maintenance information and system commissioning. Maintenance information (operation and maintenance manuals) are required for all projects and will consist of the code-specified items.  The commissioning of the building systems is the same as the 2017 code: building mechanical systems exceeding 40 tons of cooling and building lighting controls.
  • In addition to the commissioning of lighting controls, documentation of the acceptance of the lighting controls is required including drawings, operating and maintenance manuals and a report. This will have cost implications to the project for the gathering and production of these materials.

We put together an easy-to-understand guide of other changes to the energy conservation section of the Florida Building Code. Click here to download the PDF.

If you’d like to see the changes on the state website, you can do so by clicking here.