Florida Building Commission Meets, Hears Results of Applied Research Associates Study

The Florida Building Commission (FBC) met earlier this week to receive the results of two studies regarding hurricane protection in the Gulf Coast. The University of Florida Field Study of Hurricane Season 2004 and the Panhandle study performed by Applied Research Associates were both presented to the FBC.

Applied Research Associates (ARA) conducted the study of the Florida panhandle and reported that its findings show a correlation between the amount of wind-borne debris damage and tree density in the surrounding area, rather than wind speed, a finding determined by a cost-benefit analysis.

Some in the audience were concerned that the results would spur the FBC to consider a possible reduction of the current wind-borne debris region as currently defined by ASCE 7, a move that many in the building industry do not support or advocate for a variety of reasons. These include: the fact that tree coverage is not regulated-nothing prevents a community from clear cutting trees and exposing existing development-and that taller buildings would be required to do more and more extensive work to meet safety requirements based on these current findings.

Applied Research Associates is expected to continue the study and look more closely at the wind-borne debris region by tree density, rather than wind speed.

The FBC considered three options as definitions for the wind-borne debris region of the panhandle:

A Maintain the one mile limitation from the water;

B Move inland to the 130 mph contour and include an additional 1,500 feet if on bays;

C Move inland to the 120 mph contour (which is in accordance with the definition in ASCE 7).

Though homebuilders who attended the meeting spoke in favor of option A and ARA supported options B and C (advocating option C but willing to accept option B) the FBC ultimately voted to move inland to the 130 mph contour and include an additional 1,500 feet if on bays.

The FBC will have another supplementary meeting on this issue on July 11.

CLICK HERE to read the studies.

No reproduction, in print, electronic or any form without the expressed written permission of
Key Communications Inc. 540-720-5584.