Safer and Stronger Because of Experience

Tue, Jun 04, 2024 at 10:00AM

Riku Ylipelkonen, Owner, Standard Building Advisors and FRSA Technical Advisor

With the 2026 code modification process gearing up, there are already prevailing areas of focus that will affect the roofing industry in Florida. In the beginning stages, the modification process for the Florida Building Code (FBC) considers the recent changes and trends from the International Building Code (IBC) revision cycle. The IBC is the code in effect for most of the United States, as well as some smaller countries and territories that don’t publish their own building codes. As a part of the IBC code change process, natural events are analyzed to better understand their affects on building performance with an eye on life safety. Recent events include tornados, earthquakes, wildfires and hurricanes. Studying building performance and, in particular, building failures, helps us to see more clearly what is working and what needs to change in building codes. First response teams evaluate how the events affected these buildings. This knowledge is then taken back to the engineers, product manufacturers and industry associations to improve standards, codes, life safety and building performance for subsequent code cycles. The changes in code affect the features and designs of new construction as well as existing building modifications. Based on what we’ve seen with the IBC, three areas that we can expect to be focused on in the coming FBC modification process are fire rated assemblies, photovoltaic system design and design loads.

Fire Rated Assemblies

Fire is a topic that is gaining attention in Florida. More and more populated areas of the state are susceptible to wildfires as urban sprawl advances. The other consideration is that buildings are being built closer to each other, increasing the danger of fire jumping from one building to another. It is one thing to have a building loss because of a fire started from an electrical failure, a gas leak or a deep-fried turkey gone wrong. It is another tragedy when the building next to the fire is damaged because its roof assembly was vulnerable to ignition. The coming developments will impact roofers, as considerations and common sense will need to be applied to roofing projects to help reduce the likelihood of fires spreading even as buildings are built closer and closer to each other. Roofing products will also be affected. Product manufacturers need to keep on top of fire testing and fire ratings because this information is more frequently being included in event damage reports and building code development. Some municipalities in Florida are incorporating fire rated assemblies and fire test results into their permitting requirements without waiting for the code to catch up.

Photovoltaic System Design

Solar panels or photovoltaics (PV) are also growing in application and code development. Not only are more PVs being used on residential homes and commercial buildings, it’s even becoming a part of the public utility power supply. We are accustomed to seeing rooftop solar installations and, now, public utility solar farms are being installed on the sides of Florida highways and interstates. The increasing popularity of PV has been fruitful to code development as we learn lessons in the real world. Widespread use is also providing valuable learning opportunities to make PV more economical, more efficient and more robust for design considerations. The idea of a building becoming energy independent is an end goal that is gaining momentum because of this development. In addition to using PV, this goal will also be aided by energy conservation efforts such as better insulation and moisture control for interior comfort, window and glazing designs with energy management and more energy efficient options for features like lighting, water heating, refrigeration and cooking.

Tornado Design Loads

New design loads are also emerging to be included in building codes. Hurricanes are an established consideration for wind loads in the FBC but tornado design considerations will be incorporated into the code as well. This change will have an impact on roof design. If you are in an area where tornados are a concern, the development of these codes and changes will be an important topic to pay attention to. As these code changes come into effect, permitting changes will also occur. Product selection will need to comply with the new requirements and roofs will need to meet or exceed the new codes.

Fire, PV and design loads are just some of the themes coming to the forefront of the 2026 code modification process. These and other code changes will have a profound impact on the roofing industry and will change the way we roof in the future. First-hand knowledge and experience of these topics will be important to the process of code development and sharing the information will make the code stronger in the end. If you have concerns or information you would like to share, FRSA looks forward to hearing from you at


Riku Ylipelkonen, Owner, Standard Building Advisors has been in the roofing industry for 15 years. He is an engineer and is working as a consultant with FRSA. He is a member on FRSA’s Codes Committee, Codes Subcommittee, Tile Committee and on the FRSA-TRI Manual Rewrite Committee. Riku is also a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

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