Florida Homeowners Urged to Take Advantage of Lightning Protection Mitigation Credits

The Florida Green Home Standard Reference Guide was developed by the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) in 2004 to share information on green home practices and provide details on how to earn points for complying with the Florida Green Home Designation Standard. florida-green-home-building-coalition

To help mitigate the significant threat that lightning poses, the FGBC now includes credits for lightning protection to provide incentives for homeowners looking to install these systems. The mitigation intent is explained in the 2015 edition of the Guide:

Florida is the lightning capital of the US. The number one cause of house fires in our state is lightning. The cost of a lightning protection system can be less than an LCD TV and increases the home’s protection from wildfires and reduces the amount of damaged electronic equipment ending up in the landfill. No electrical protection system is considered 100% effective; however, a lightning protection system can stop a direct hit, making it the most effective form of fire and electrical protection.”

The FGBC Green Home Standard cites credit requirements for Lightning Protection and Surge Protection as follows:          

Requirement: Lightning Protection: A lightning protection system must be installed by a UL and LPI (Lighting Protection Institute) certified company. The company needs to be listed on the LPI site as a dealer/contractor, not simply as a member.

 Surge Protection System: The surge protection devices (SPD) that include phone, coax when appropriate, and a whole house protection device installed per manufacturer’s instructions either inside or outside where the electrical utility enters the home. The SPD should be stamped with an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label to verify the unit meets the latest safety standards. If installed outdoors the unit should be Type 1 listed by UL, and if installed indoors the unit should be listed either Type 1 or Type 2.                 

  • Type 1- These are permanently connected SPDs intended for installation between the secondary of the service transformer and the line side of the service equipment overcurrent device as well as the load side (including watthour meter adapters). Previously known as surge arresters, these devices are intended to be installed without an external overcurrent protective device. 
  • Type 2-These are permanently connected SPDs intended for installation on the load side of the service equipment overcurrent device, including SPDs located at the branch panel.

Denoting that credits are specific to an “individual unit” rather than multi-family, the FGBC allots credit points for LPS as follows:

“1 point for Surge Protection”

“2 Points for Lightning Protection”

Since a typical bolt of lightning can generate up to 200 kA of electrical energy, the threat of fire from a direct or indirect electrical surge to homes and businesses is very real. A lightning protection system is an important consideration for inclusion in the “build and protect” design process. For architects, engineers and designers interested in learning more about lightning protection, LPI has resources to share.

Unfortunately, even though lightning is the weather threat that affects most people, most of the time in Florida and throughout the U.S. as well, it seems that many homeowners may not be taking advantage of this credit-worthy mitigation tactic.

“Lightning protection is included in the FGBC checkpoints, but to-date I haven’t seen anyone submit LPS to earn points for compliance with the Florida Green Home Designation Standard.” said research architect, Stephanie Thomas-Rees.

According to Thomas-Rees, a lack of action on the part of homeowners, could be due to a “lack of understanding about the cost-effectiveness of lightning protection systems.”

Thomas-Rees, who serves on the FGBC Board, is also an Adjunct Professor at Dayton State College and a proponent of continuing education.

“Lunch and Learns are a great way for architects to learn more about building amenities and green home practices like lightning protection,” Thomas-Rees explained.

Architects and engineers who are seeking to learn more about lightning protection Continuing Education in a Lunch and Learn setting, can contact LPI for assistance, or visit the Lightning Safety Alliance website for information about its AIA Registered “Lightning Protection 101” (LSA 101) program. For more information about green building practices for homeowners, visit: www.FloridaGreenBuilding.org.