Florida Building Energy Code Effective July 1, 2015 Requires HVAC Commissioning

Florida_Energy_Building_Code_CES_HVAC_CommissioningThe fifth edition of the Florida building Code takes effect on July 1, 2015 (click here for analysis paper). 

New buildings will have to be 19% more energy efficient when completed to current building design permit requirements.  

Additionally, commissioning reports will be required effective July 1, 2015.  New Energy Codes required large HVAC tonnage and buildings that hit the 50% value improvement to bring the entire building up to current code.

The owner becomes a communication hub between the design/construction team and the code official responsible for granting the certificate of occupancy.  Since getting a CO is usually a time critical constraint, it is important that the process not get unintentionally delayed by an owner that isn’t aware that the code mandates their involvement in the process. 

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The energy code portion of the Florida Building code will have a significant impact on new construction, whether for a new project or a substantial addition.  With renovation, the usual trip lines of 50% of the taxable value must be exceeded in a period of years to trigger code compliance, which usually means the building has been through a major renovation. 

In the new code, compliance will require the building to be approximately 19% more efficient than the current compliant building.  This will be challenging, but can be achieved with high performance design. 

Capital costs will increase, soft costs will increase, operational costs will decrease, utility infrastructure demands will be dampened and asset value retention should be improved.    

System Commissioning

Commissioning is when a consultant puts a building system through a rigorous set of tests to verify that the building system purchased by the owner is delivering what was intended.  This practice is more commonly used for green buildings than traditional construction, but under the new code, in Section C408, commissioning is now REQUIRED for lighting controls and hvac systems.  All lighting controls must be commissioned.  HVAC systems over 40 tons must be commissioned. 

C408.2 Mechanical systems commissioning and completion requirements

Before completion of the final inspection, documentation must be provided with evidence of mechanical systems commissioning. Exceptions exist for systems with a capacity of less than 480K Btu/h cooling and 600K Btu heating and for systems from Section C403.3 that serve dwelling units in hotels, motels, etcThe code encourages the EOR to do the commissioning, which should keep costs down and keep the demand for Cx Agents from grossly outpacing the supply. 

The paperwork trail is not quite as rigorous as for an independently Green certified building, however, the project cannot pass the final mechanical inspection until the following process is completed. 

  • The Cx Agent (EoR) is required by code to give a preliminary commissioning report to the owner.
  • The owner must send a letter to the code official notifying them that they have accepted the Preliminary Cx Report.
  • The code official may request a copy from the owner, not the EoR or CxA.
  • Within 90 days of the receipt of the certificate of occupancy, the documents, manuals, balancing and final commissioning report must be delivered to the owner.

As you can see, the owner becomes a communication hub between the design/construction team and the code official responsible for granting the certificate of occupancy.  Since getting a CO is usually a time critical constraint, it is important that the process not get unintentionally delayed by an owner that isn’t aware that the code mandates their involvement in the process. 

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Posted by Comprehensive Energy Services

Comprehensive Energy Services, Inc. is an award-winning, self performing provider and recognized leader in Design Build and Maintain Mechanical Contracting and Plumbing; providing a full range of advanced HVAC commercial, healthcare, and industrial services, including mechanical engineering design, mechanical construction, plumbing, IAQ, preventative maintenance and system maintenance throughout Florida.

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