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Hurricane Readiness for Commercial Buildings

Commerical Hurricane Standards

As a state located in the hurricane zone, Florida is constantly aware of its vulnerability to being in the direct path of a major storm. After the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, greater attention was paid to building codes to help ensure the safety of the public as well as to limit potential property damage in the event of a storm. Both new and existing structures were assessed for their ability to withstand heavy winds.   


To accomplish the goal of ensuring that Florida’s homes and commercial buildings were properly strengthened and structurally sound, the Florida Building Code was updated in 2010 to include new wind speed maps mandating that all buildings be designed to withstand a certain wind speed. They must now be designed to withstand winds between 120 MPH and 180 MPH depending on the location and type of building. Each component of the building including the structure itself as well as exterior features such as siding, roofing, windows, doors, shutters, canopies, awnings and decking must meet the required rating and be properly secured. For example, even AC units must be strapped down to withstand the designated wind speed. 


Stop the Shatter 

As an area of particular concern, windows must now either be made with impact glass, which is shatter-proof and designed not to break on impact by flying debris, or fitted with storm shutters that can be put into place prior to the arrival of a storm. While storm shutters are generally the less expensive of the two options, the labor involved in installation and removal – especially on multi-story buildings – makes impact glass far more utilized in commercial applications. Impact glass provides a much cleaner look and provides greater visual appeal to the exterior of the building. 


Braced and Ready 

During construction, as a potential storm approaches it’s important that the contractor prepare the jobsite to limit any potential damage or losses to the work that is already in place as well as to protect the public and surrounding properties. This includes tying down or storing any loose materials or equipment offsite or in a location that will be shielded from wind as well as documenting the conditions of the current construction progress. Projects in-progress should also have a builder’s risk insurance (BRI) policy that specifically includes wind coverage which is often excluded from many BRI policies. Taking such measures will ensure that risks during the construction phase are minimized as much as possible.  


At Hanto and Clarke, LLC, we have years of experience in designing and constructing commercial buildings that meet the most stringent ratings for wind speed. We believe that these codes are critical in providing our clients with buildings that are not only beautiful, but also safe and sturdy enough to weather even the strongest storms.     


For more information on the updated Florida building codes and wind speed ratings required for your commercial building, visit: 

Wind speed map - 

Building types -