New law allows flexibility from restrictions in construction of public schools
WASHINGTON – American Wood Council (AWC) President and CEO Robert Glowinski issued the following statement following Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s signing of the education omnibus bill, HB 7029, into law. The bill allows Florida school districts to modify educational facilities requirements in the state building code upon a 2/3 vote of the school board. These modifications could include allowing the use of wood for interior non-load bearing walls in public educational facilities, which is currently prohibited.
“It is inappropriate to prohibit a building material in the Florida building code, if the national model codes, and current state building code provisions for private schools, allow it. The Florida building code already provides for safety in school construction along with protection of wood structures from weather, pests and other environmental hazards. However, certain restrictions in the code that apply only to publicly-owned schools override them. AWC strongly defends product neutrality in building codes to ensure all building materials have equal opportunities. The decision of which building material to use should ultimately be left to those in the position to choose the building material best suited for their needs. This bill is a step in that direction.
“There are many advantages of wood school construction besides the potential cost savings. Wood buildings can be designed and constructed to resist hurricane-level wind forces in accordance with the codes. Wood is also the only major building material that is both renewable and sustainable, helping schools meet their green building requirements.
“AWC will continue our efforts to broaden the ultimate goal of this legislation – to make wood construction a statewide option for all public schools and to overturn the remaining ban of the use of wood to construct public schools that remains in the Florida State Requirements for Educational Facilities.”