FORTIFIED COMMERCIAL

Voluntary, Superior Construction Standard and
Designation Program for Commercial Buildings

FORTIFIED Commercial™ is a voluntary, superior construction standard and designation program designed by IBHS to make new and existing commercial buildings stronger against severe weather, including hurricanes and high winds/high winds and hail. FORTIFIED Commercial employs an incremental approach with three levels of designations available—Bronze, Silver and Gold—so design professionals can work with building owners to choose a desired level of protection that best suits their budgets and resilience goals.

FORTIFIED Commercial designation is currently available only in coastal Alabama for new construction.

Standards

FORTIFIED Commercial™ standards and technical bulletins are now available in one place, including building requirements, roofing requirements, specific program elements and program benefit information. Make sure your structure fulfills the superior building standards for FORTIFIED Commercial and can withstand severe weather using the publications below.

Technical Bulletins

FORTIFIED technical bulletins should be used in conjunction with FORTIFIED Commercial standards. The bulletins contain critical details, expanded descriptions and updates to qualified methods and material requirements.

Compliance Process

This flow chart illustrates the complete FORTIFIED Commercial designation process.

Forms and Compliance Checklists

Project Design Form and Compliance Checklist

The Project Design Form and Compliance Checklist is to be filled out by the project architect and licensed structural engineer. It is to be completed during the design development phase of the project and is intended to help the design team verify they have included the requirements appropriate for the selected FORTIFIED designation level. This is to be submitted to the prospective FORTIFIED Evaluator for approval before construction documents are prepared.

Project Construction Form and Compliance Checklist

The Project Construction Form and Compliance Checklist is to be filled out by the project architect, a licensed structural engineer, and the general contractor and/or roofer. It confirms the requirements for the selected FORTIFIED designation level have been included in the building documents and the contractor and/or roofer is aware of these requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

General

What is FORTIFIED Commercial?

IBHS’ FORTIFIED Commercial standards are a set of building requirements to make new and existing commercial buildings stronger against severe weather, including hurricanes and high winds/high winds and hail. FORTIFIED Commercial employs an incremental approach with three levels of FORTIFIED Commercial designations available—Bronze, Silver and Gold—so builders can work with building owners to choose a desired level of protection that best suits their budgets and resilience goals.

What are the benefits of a FORTIFIED Commercial–designated building?

Building to a more resilient construction standard:

  • Greatly reduces potential for property damage from natural disasters and interior fire
  • Protects physical assets—such as the building, equipment, inventories, and tenant improvements
  • Increases likelihood of immediate reuse post-disaster, which improves competitive advantage and helps maintain or increase market share
  • Reduces environmental impact by limiting destroyed building materials in landfills post-disaster
  • Lowers overall cost of community recovery; studies show that for every $1 spent on disaster mitigation, $4 is saved in disaster recovery expenses

Where is FORTIFIED Commercial available?

At this time, IBHS is only providing FORTIFIED Commercial designations in coastal Alabama. There are plans to expand designations to other states in the future. If you are outside of Alabama, IBHS recommends following the FORTIFIED Commercial standards and using the forms provided on our website to document the design and construction of the building, so a future designation may be possible if the requirements are met.

How much will it cost me to get a FORTIFIED Commercial designation for my building?

The cost will vary based on the size and type of building as well as the applicant and design team’s efficiency; if inaccurate documentation is provided, this will require multiple reviews by the FORTIFIED Evaluator and could lead to additional costs.

Which standard do I use: FORTIFIED Commercial™–Hurricane or FORTIFIED Commercial™–High Wind & Hail?

Use the standard that corresponds to your building’s location and the risk faced. Areas vulnerable to hurricanes as defined in ASCE 7 are considered hurricane-prone regions and should use the Hurricane standards. All other areas should use the High Wind & Hail standards. 

  • For ASCE 7-05, hurricane-prone regions are locations along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts where the design wind speed is greater than 90 mph, plus Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.
  • For ASCE 7-10 and 7-16, hurricane-prone regions are locations along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts where the wind speed for Risk Category II buildings is greater than 115 mph, plus Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.

How long does the FORTIFIED Commercial designation process take?

The FORTIFIED Commercial designation process will vary with each commercial building project and depends on multiple factors, though it primarily depends on the type of building, percent of project completion for new construction at the time of application, and the construction timeline. The designation process is coordinated with the various phases of construction. A final designation is awarded by IBHS upon completion of the project, when a certificate of occupancy is typically issued.

What kind of confirmation/paperwork will I receive once my commercial building has been designated FORTIFIED Commercial?

Once IBHS has formally designated a commercial building FORTIFIED Commercial, IBHS will send the building owner a package including a letter of acceptance, documentation of designation, and a designation certificate.

If I sell or purchase a FORTIFIED Commercial–designated building, will the building retain its designation?

Yes, the FORTIFIED Commercial designation remains with the building for 5 years from its original designation.

Building Criteria

Is my building eligible for FORTIFIED Commercial?

  • Presently, IBHS is designating buildings that are in the design or construction phase. The types of buildings eligible for designation are described below. These group classifications are primarily based on Chapter 3, Section 302 of the 2015 International Building Code. Presently, IBHS is designating buildings that are in the design or construction phase. The types of buildings eligible for designation are described below. These group classifications are primarily based on Chapter 3, Section 302 of the 2015 International Building Code.
  • Eligible groups include Assembly, Business, Educational, Factory/Industrial (moderate- and low-hazard factory/industrial only), Institutional, Mercantile, Residential (when not regulated by the International Residential Code), and Storage (moderate- and low-hazard storage).
  • Excluded groups include High-Hazard and appurtenances such as barns, sheds, etc. IBHS has the discretion and reserves the right to determine a building’s eligibility for the program based on use and occupancy.

Are you currently designating existing buildings?

Existing building designation are not being awarded at this time—only new construction.

I have multiple buildings on my project I would like to get designated FORTIFIED Commercial. Do I need to complete separate applications for each building?

Yes, you need to complete and application for each building because each building will receive its own FORTIFIED Commercial designation, even if they have the same address. This also helps to prevent confusion when documentation is collected and submitted throughout the designation process.

I have multiple roofing systems on one building. Do I have to complete separate “Project Construction Form and Compliance Checklist” for each?

Yes, in order to prevent confusion on document submittals, separate “Project Construction Form and Compliance Checklist” must be completed for each qualifying roof system.

I have a ballasted roof or vegetative roof and I am in a hurricane-prone region. Can I get a designation?

No. Ballasted roofs and vegetative roofs are not permitted for FORTIFIED Commercial in hurricane-prone regions.

Designation Process

I would like to design a FORTIFIED Commercial building. Where do I start?

The best first step is to review the FORTIFIED Commercial Process Flow Chart. This visual guide helps walk you through the designation process and helps to prioritize the steps along the way.

What is a FORTIFIED Evaluator?

A FORTIFIED Evaluator is employed by a third-party company, in agreement with IBHS, who works directly with the building owner/owner representative to complete the necessary document reviews and site evaluations, and provide IBHS with the proper information to complete a FORTIFIED Commercial designation for commercial buildings. The company that employs the FORTIFIED Evaluator, and the building owner/owner representative will sign a “Consulting Services Agreement” laying out the terms of working relationship. FORTIFIED Evaluators are trained and certified by IBHS.

When should I submit documentation?

A submission date will be provided by the FORTIFIED Evaluator for all required submittals and documents.

What is an active and current FM RoofNav number?

  • An active and current FM RoofNav number is a designation associated with a specific FM Approved roof cover system. The roof cover systems are tested to meet specific requirements and include an uplift factor of safety. These approved roof cover systems provide a known “performance expectation,” therefore material and installation deviations from the approved system is unacceptable. For more information on the most up-to-date FM Approved roof systems, see www.roofnav.com.
  • FM Approved systems include a factor of safety for wind uplift. For instance, a roof cover that is rated FM 1-90 is used in situations where the roof cover uplift is 45 psf.
  • These approved systems can be used across the U.S.

What is a Miami-Dade County Approval and Notice of Acceptance (NOA)?

  • Roof cover systems have been tested to meet specific requirements and include an uplift factor of safety. These approved roof cover systems provide a known “performance expectation,” therefore material and installation deviations from the approved system are not acceptable. The NOA provides detailed information on the roof assembly including the uplift ratings. The uplift ratings include a factor of safety for wind uplift pressure. For instance a system approved for 50 psf was tested to 100 psf.
  • These approved systems are not confined to use in Miami-Dade County and can be used across the U.S.

Have a question about FORTIFIED Commercial?
Please contact us.