Some of Florida’s top pool builders are concerned about the potential impact of new statewide energy requirements.
In mid-March, building officials will begin enforcing the 2010 Florida Energy & Conservation Code. Similar to laws currently on the books in California, the code tightly restricts the use of single-speed pumps in favor of multi- and variable-speed units.
But early input from local regulators suggests the new code will be interpreted differently from area to area. As a result, industry members have grown increasingly uneasy over whether government officials can enforce it consistently.
“There’s no uniformity at all. It’s almost as if no one truly knows what they’re doing,” said Travis Leonard, partner at A&G Concrete Pools, a Pool & Spa News Top Builder in Fort Pierce, Fla.
“You’ve got some counties that say they are going to enforce it, but you won’t know until you submit a set of plans with the building department and they kick it out.”
Among its provisions, the Florida code stipulates that single-speed pumps can only be used on residential pools if they are less than 1 horsepower. To correspond with the pump requirement, any controls used with multi- and variable-speed pumps must be able to operate at a minimum of two speeds.
The default filtration speed must then be slow enough that it takes six hours or longer to turn over the entire body of water. If a high-speed override is engaged — so as to accommodate solar-based systems, for instance — the pump must revert back to the default speed within 24 hours. Furthermore, the pumps cannot be run by motors that are split-phased, shaded-pole or capacitor start-induction run types.
These stipulations automatically apply to pools built after March 15, 2012, and to replacement pumps.
Industry professionals are particularly worried that enforcement officials will become confused between the new energy law and the state’s entrapment-prevention code, which feature some slight differences in allowable line velocities — 6 feet per second for the energy law, 8 fps for the entrapment code.
Since last summer, Florida Swimming Pool Association officials and members have conducted more than a dozen instructional classes statewide for local association chapters and municipal building departments.
If not for FSPA’s efforts, there would be few, if any, other ways code officials could familiarize themselves with the pool-centric aspects of the code. In fact, many building departments are actively looking to industry members to school them on the new energy requirements, said Dan Johnson, president/owner of SWIM Inc. in Sarasota, Fla., who conducted a two-hour presentation on the code for building officials, pool builders and service technicians at the Sarasota County Building Department in late February.
“Building officials don’t pay as much attention to pools as they do the rest of the house, so I’m choosing to educate vs. letting them close me down after the fact,” he said. “The truth is it’s not our job, but the reality is that’s the way it is.”
Rebecca Robledo contributed to this story.