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The 2012 edition of the International Building & Mechanical Codes (IBC & IMC) introduced new testing requirements for air intake and exhaust louvers located in hurricane-prone regions of the United States. Louvers installed in Florida were already subject to the testing standards of the Florida Building Code (FBC). For years, a Miami-Dade Notice of Acceptance (NOA) was considered the standard certification for hurricane louvers installed anywhere simply because there were no other standards that were widely used by louver manufacturers. However, Miami-Dade NOA’s are not required by code outside of Florida and NOA louvers are typically designed for much higher wind load pressures than what’s found in areas outside of South Florida. Several years ago, Air Movement and Control Association International, Inc. (AMCA) created ANSI/AMCA Standard 540, Test Method for Louvers Impacted by Wind Borne Debris, and ANSI/AMCA Standard 550, Test Method for High Velocity Wind Driven Rain Resistant Louvers. These standards were adopted as requirements in hurricane areas in the 2012 IBC & IMC and have remained in all successive editions of the codes. The AMCA standards provide a more streamlined means of qualifying louvers for hurricane conditions outside of South Florida. However, designers are often challenged with determining which standards apply to their projects considering their location, building type and local code amendments. There are also multiple styles of louvers available that meet these standards, each with their own characteristics that should be considered when selecting. In this paper we will examine the code requirements and outline the styles of compliant louvers available.
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