Important Mechanical 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 our third installment of a blog series aimed at examining these code changes, we’ll take a look at noteworthy changes in mechanical 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:

• Ventilation rates have changed for kitchens, gyms, and warehouses. The 2017 code only required ventilation rate based on area. The 2020 code requires not only ventilation rate based on area but in addition ventilation rate based on the number of people. The increase in outdoor ventilation air could increase the capacity of the HVAC system resulting in larger HVAC units and costs to our clients.
• The 2020 code now has an article on pollution control units for exhausting kitchen hoods. We have previously used these units in restaurant design in urban locations. They are very expensive to purchase, install, operate, and maintain and the client should be made aware of this at the very beginning of the project.
• Plastic plumbing piping in plenum systems having a UL 2846 rating is now acceptable as well as piping having a flame index not greater than 25 and a smoke-developed index not greater than 50 per the previous code.
• The 2020 code allows restricted access to fire and smoke dampers complying with NFPA 80 Standard for Fire Doors and other protective openings and NFPA 105 standard for smoke door assemblies and other protective openings remote inspection requirements. This will add expense to a project as the dampers will require power and testing circuits in lieu of a fusible link. Adequate inspection clearances should be designed into the project.

We put together an easy-to-understand guide of other changes to the mechanical 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.

In our final installment of this four-part series, we’ll take a look at changes to Florida building code in energy conservation.