Protecting your business from destructive weather such as hurricanes not only requires resilient building materials and defensive systems to stand against the elements — owners must also comply with necessary building codes for additional safety.
Identifying which regulations to follow requires a thorough consideration of safety, liability, and cost. Most regulations specifically relate to safety, and aligning your building to such rules often builds it to the highest standards. This thinking can be highly beneficial, especially to those businesses that operate in hurricane-prone areas.
As hurricanes continue to grow in tenacity, the codes of incorporating glass in building designs have evolved. It is evident through the International Building Code (IBC) and local regulations to ensure that glass can be resilient to extreme weather. Since then, many references have been created to the Miami-Dade local code for hurricanes.
Miami-Dade Coverage and Testing Standards
Due to its high standards of hurricane safety stringency, the Miami-Dade code has become widely used and recognized throughout the state of Florida, even acknowledging it as the “gold standard.” Despite its popularity, the state still has to approve the Miami-Dade Notice of Acceptance as a statewide product recognition.
Florida regulations primarily govern the local and state approval of building materials, focused on the structural wind resistance of buildings. The ruling establishes specific methods for construction manufacturers to follow the Florida Building Code and the option to obtain local or state approval.
In addition, there are various applicable state approvals for products for use in the High-Velocity Hurricane Zone, which were not entirely based on the Miami-Dade NOA. From a safety standpoint, the proper demonstration of compliance for products used in the High-Velocity Hurricane Zone (HVHZ) is crucial. Manufacturers must also give assurance that their products can perform under the adverse conditions of the zone.
Miami-Dade Approved Products
Compliance testing includes impact evaluation under the American National Standards Institute—ANSI Z97.1, static wind load test as per Testing Application Standards TAS 202. Miami-Dade has precise testing procedures since NOAs can be used to obtain the optional state approval for these product categories:
- Panel walls
- Exterior doors
- Roofing products
- Structural components
Miami-Dade-approved roof hatches also hit the benchmark for extreme weather resiliency. They have undergone rigorous testing, including wind-uplift, forced entry, and air infiltration.
In addition, the product ensures durability after being tested for small and large missile impact – Class IV (TAS 201-94), Air Pressure & Water Penetration (TAS 202-94), and Cyclic Wind Pressure Loading (TAS 203-94).
Due to the prevalence of glass used in commercial buildings, it is ideal for businesses inside HVHZ to ensure that they purchase products that have undergone hurricane testing. All windows tested to Miami-Dade County standards must successfully endure a series of large missile impact tests. Here’s how the procedure goes at a glance:
- Manufacturers provide a lab with three samples of their biggest hurricane windows
- Each specimen receives two impacts by 2x4s propelled by compressed air
- Windows are then pressure tested with highly positive and negative PSF loads
With the continuing change in weather patterns and as the hurricanes become more powerful, the demand for higher product performance grows. Business owners need to be mindful of the products they purchase, mainly since companies advertise their products as Miami-Dade compliant when it is not approved for use as a hurricane barrier.
Prepare your Building for Hurricanes
There are other ways to mitigate the devastation of hurricanes aside from Miami-Dade-approved products. You can effectively protect your business and property by addressing these vulnerable areas.
- COMMERCIAL ROOF SYSTEM – Since roofs are entirely exposed to harsh elements, it is the most vulnerable when a hurricane arrives. Regular upkeep maintenance can help improve or maintain its durability and reduce the damage after the event.
- ROOF-MOUNTED EQUIPMENT – Hurricane wind speeds can reach up to 74 mph (119 km/h). Therefore, any unsecured roof equipment can slide or overturn, which can cause damage and water intrusion. Avoid this from happening by adequately securing the device, inspecting loose flashing, clearing all debris, and ensuring that all fasteners are in place.
- SKYLIGHTS – When not correctly installed or closed, skylights can cause a significant breach and lead to interior damage. Ensure that the unit doesn’t have cracks or leaks, and hire a contractor to replace the damaged skylights.
- SIGNAGES – Before a hurricane, removing or securing outdoor signs and other accessories would be best since they can become windborne debris.
- COMMERCIAL DOORS – While these doors play an essential role in work productivity, they can instantly lead to costly roof and interior damage if not properly maintained. Before the hurricane’s arrival, thoroughly examine its parts and check for dents, rusting, or warping. If possible, contact your contractor to check if you have wind-rated doors.
- WINDOWS AND SHUTTERS – Preventing water and wind intrusion inside your building is key to surviving a hurricane. Equip all windows and glass doors with a durable impact-rated glass or shutter system. Check the hurricane glass windows for damage or loose-fitting gaskets when conducting inspections. Test the shutters and ensure that they are firmly attached.
- GENERATORS – An onsite backup generator is a critical defense against power interruptions and unexpected business downtime. Building owners must ensure to operate generators in compliance with manufacture recommendations. Operate the device in a well-ventilated area since using it in a cramped and closed room can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- PACKAGED TERMINAL AIR CONDITIONERS (PTAC) – The use of PTAC units is widespread in hotels, shopping malls, and healthcare facilities. Before the hurricane arrives, ensure that each unit is secured and withstand heavy, wind-driven rain. Inspect the PTAC’s weather stripping and sleeve to ensure proper installation.
- LIGHTNING PROTECTION SYSTEM – While the system can protect your property against lightning strikes, it can quickly become a tool for devastation when a hurricane arrives and becomes loose. During routine inspections, check the system’s conductor poles and repair them when disconnected.
The majority of the solutions suggested above primarily lead to the significance of having a proper maintenance schedule and checklist. Being prepared is far better than dealing with the problem when it strikes, and failing to prioritize repairs and maintenance may lead to costly repairs and even business closure.
The ultimate goal of the Miami-Dade code and other building regulations is the protection of life and other valuable assets. If your property operates inside an HVHZ, it becomes subjected to extreme wind loads, various levels of flooding, and airborne debris. The surge can also have a disastrous effect on buildings near the coastline.
The Miami-Dade standard is stringent since it essentially protects lives. Purchasing NOA-approved products is highly beneficial, but inadequate installation and maintenance can overwhelm its purpose and functionalities.