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Technical Note
Your Partner in Structural Concrete Design
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TN388 _Vibration_footfall_example_110810
VIBRATION EVALUATION OF FLOOR SYSTEMS
FOR FOOTFALL USING ADAPTFLOOR PRO
This technical note provides the six steps for evaluating the perception and acceptability of vibration
caused by footfall in a conventionally reinforced or posttensioned floor system. The general steps are
followed by a stepbystep example of how to use the new modal vibration analysis capabilities in
ADAPTFloor Pro 2010 to carry out a footfall analysis and check. The example first uses the vibration
response of the entire modeled floor system and then uses the Exclude Mesh function to isolate a
specific subregion. The information outlined in this technical note is intended to help structural
engineers address their vibration compliance requirements, in particular footfall analysis, with greater
ease, speed, and accuracy using ADAPT software.
Vibration of concrete floor systems is distinctly different from that of steel floors. The skeletal
construction of a steel structure, made up of discrete beams and girders responds differently from the
continuum of a concrete floor.
In every concrete floor system, a large fraction of the floor area is covered by slabs. Slabs being the
predominant load carrying member govern the vibration response of the floor. When excited, flat slabs
vibrate in form of homogeneous plates. This is particularly true in modern floor systems, where larger
spans and fewer beams accentuate the contribution of slabs.
Subdivision of a floor into girders of higher stiffness, and primary/secondary beams leads to vibration
characteristics of each panel becoming specific to its member layout. For this reason, as is reflected in
AISC recommendations, the evaluation of a steel floor calls upon empirical relationships developed
specifically for steel structures. In the contrast, concrete slabs with or without beams lend themselves
to be analyzed fairly accurately using the Finite Element Method, where a combination of
interconnected shell and beam elements govern the response of a panel.
This technology, as employed in ADAPTBuilder can represent large spans, irregular geometry and
support layout that have become the norm of modern structures, where advances in structural
engineering can meet the advances in construction materials and daring architectural aspirations.
SIX STEP PROCESS FOR CARRYING OUT FOOTFALL VIBRATION ANALYSIS
The six steps for evaluating the perception and acceptability of vibration caused by footfall in a
conventionally reinforced or posttensioned floor system are:
1 – Natural Frequency
Determine the natural frequency of the floor system (Hz). For specific areas of interest, such as a lab
or operating room of a hospital, determine the “dominant” frequencies of that specific location.
Technical Note
2
2 – Excting Force of Vibration
Select a probable weight of the person (P) likely to be the source of vibration (assume 150 lb; 70 kg).
Assume a number of steps that the person is likely to take. For example, someone who takes 2 steps
per second walks at a frequency of 2 Hz. Referring to Fig. 1, the fraction of the weight of the person
that excites the vibration is 0.53. In summary:
Assume weight of person P = 150 lb
Constant force representing the walking force P
O
= 0.53 * 150 = 79.5 lb
FIGURE 1 DYNAMIC LOAD FACTOR
FOR WALKING FORCE
3 – Floor Type
Select the appropriate damping factor (β) of the floor system from Table 1. Use 0.03 if unsure.
TABLE 1 RECOMMENDED DAMPING FACTORS
FOR VARIOUS OCCUPANCIES
Occupancy
Damping factor
β
Bare concrete floor 0.02
Furnished, low partition 0.03
Furnished, full height partition 0.05
Shopping malls 0.02
Technical Note
3
4 – Weight of Vibrating Floor Panel
Calculate the effective weight (W) of the panel under consideration and the superimposed load that is
attached to the floor and follows its vibration.
5 – Acceleration Caused by Walking Person
Use the relationship (1) below to determine the peak acceleration ratio caused by the footfall on the
floor (a
p
/g).
Formula to determine the peak ground acceleration as a result of footfall on a floor panel. The formula
gives the value as ratio of ground acceleration “g”
(Relationship 1)
where
a
p
= peak acceleration;
g = gravitational acceleration [32.2 ft/sec
2
; 9.81 m/sec
2
];
P
o
= constant force representing the walking force (from Fig. 1 and weight of walking
person);
β = modal damping ratio, recommended in Table 1;
W = effective weight of the panel and the superimposed dead load; and
f
n
= first natural frequency (Hz).
6 – Evaluation
With the natural frequency (Hz) from Step 1 and the peak acceleration ratio (a
p
/g) from Step 5 refer to
the ATC chart (Fig. 2) to determine the acceptability of the vibration.
Figure 2 is chart from Applied Technology Center (ATC) used to determine the perception and
acceptability of vibration in a floor system. Note that the ordinate of the chart is in percentage of ground
acceleration. Values obtained from Relationship 1 must be multiplied by 100, before using them in the
chart below.
÷
=

0.35fn
p
0
a
P e
( )
g W
Technical Note
4
FIGURE 2 CHART FOR PERCEPTION AND ACCEPTABILITY
OF FLOOR VIBRATION
For more details and additional information refer to ADAPT Technical Note TN290 that is available for
download at www.adaptsoft.com.
Technical Note
5
EXAMPLE 1
Figure EX1 shows the view of a concrete floor resting on columns. Evaluate the perception and
acceptability of vibration of the panel of the floor system shown in Fig. EX2. The floor is furnished with
low partitions.
FIGURE EX1 3D VIEW OF THE FLOOR SYSTEM
FIGURE EX2 IDENTIFICATION OF PANEL FOR EVALUATION
Step 1 – Natural Frequency
Generate a model in the program ADAPTFloor Pro and analyze to determine the first three
frequencies of the floor system. The lowest (first) frequency generally governs the evaluation. Since
concrete floors exhibit a somewhat greater stiffness in their dynamic response than under static loads,
Technical Note
6
it is recommended to use a modulus of elasticity in your model equal to 1.2 times the modulus of
elasticity given in the codes [ADAPT TN 290].
By default, ADAPTFloor Pro only considers the vertical contribution of selfweight for it modal vibration
analysis. However, the user has the option to include other mass in the calculation by defining project
specific Vibration Combinations. Figure EX3 shows the interface used to customize the mass
combinations used during vibration analysis.
FIGURE EX3 IDENTIFICATION OF PANEL FOR EVALUATION
Figures EX14 through EX15 show the discretization of the floor using ADAPTFloor Pro and the
results of the first three frequencies. The first three frequencies determined are: 5.97 Hz, 6.33 Hz and
6.44 Hz.
FIGURE EX14 – DISCRETIZATION OF THE ENTIRE FLOOR MODEL
Technical Note
7
(a) First mode – frequency 5.97 Hz
(b) Second mode – frequency 6.33 Hz
(c) Third mode – frequency 6.44 Hz
FIGURE EX15 THE FIRST THREE MODES AND FREQUENCIES
STEP 2 – Excting Force of Vibration (P
O
)
Assume most persons likely to use the space are 170 lb (70 kg); walking with 2 steps per second. From
Fig. 1:
Constant force representing the walking force P
O
= 0.53 * 170 = 90.1 lb
STEP 3 – Floor Type
Since the floor is furnished with low partitions, from Table 1, select a damping ratio β = 0.03 .
STEP 4 – Weight of Vibrating Floor Panel
Calculate the effective weight (W) of the panel under consideration and the superimposed load that
follows its vibration
Technical Note
8
The dimensions of the panel are 30 x 26.5 ft, slab is 8 in. thick and subjected to 20 psf of partitions that
are tied to the slab and are going to follow the motion of the slab in harmony. Hence their mass is
additive to that of the panel. Unit weight of concrete is 0.15 k/cu ft.
The total weight of the panel W is :
W = ( )
8
30 26.25 0.15 0.02
12
 
× × × +

\ .
= 94.5 k (420 kN)
STEP 5 – Acceleration Caused by Walking Person
Use the Relationship (1) to determine the peak acceleration ratio (a
p
/g) caused by the footfall on the
floor
(Relationship 1)
P = 150 lb
Walking speed = 2.0 Hz
DLF = 0.53 (from Fig. 1)
P
0
= 0.53 *150 = 79.5 lb
f
n
= natural frequency equal to 5.97 Hz (from Fig. EX1 5a)
β = 0.03
W = 94.5 k
p a
g
=
÷ ×
×
× ×
0.35 5.97
79.5 e
0.03 94.5 1000
= 0.00347 ; 0.35 %
STEP 6 – Evaluation
With the natural frequency (Hz) from step 1 equal to 5.97 Hz and the peak acceleration ratio (a
p
/g)
from step 5 equal to 0.35% refer to the ATC chart (Fig. 2) to determine the perception and acceptability
of the vibration.
÷
=

0.35fn
p
0
a
P e
( )
g W
Technical Note
9
FIGURE EX16 EVALUATION OF FLOOR VIBRATION
From Fig. EX16 the evaluation parameters indicate that the floor panel is acceptable for office and
residential occupancy, but not for operating rooms in hospitals.
Floor design
Technical Note
10
USING EXCLUDER FUNCTION FOR LOCATION SPECIFIC EVALUATION
It can be argued that the response evaluation of a specific panel as performed in the above example is
greatly influenced by the vibration values of the entire floor system. Figure EX12 implies that the
frequencies determined are largely influenced by excitations other than the panel under consideration.
In a large floor area, the sensitive laboratory or operating room may cover a fraction of the entire floor
area. For a more credible evaluation, It is critical to focus on the response of the location of interest,
and undertake mitigation measures that are directed to that area.
Using the unique Exclude/Include Meshing function in ADAPTFloor Pro, you can identify and isolate
any subregion of your full 3D building model to determine its vibration characteristic in isolation. This
saves the design engineer considerable time by not requiring the creation and maintenance of separate
simplified floor models for the sole purspose of vibration analysis. The area of interest is simply
delineated by a Exclude Mesh boundary drawn around it and selecting whether the software should
only mesh and analyze inside or outside the polygon region defined. The Exclude Mesh function can be
found on the FEM Process Toolbar, shown in Figure EX17.
(a) FEM Process Toolbar with arrow pointing to Exclude Mesh function
(a) FEM Process Toolbar with arrow pointing to Exclude Mesh function
FIGURE EX17 EXCLUDE MESH FUNCTION ALLOWS USER TO DEFINE ANY POLYGON REGION
AND ONLY MESH INSIDE OR OUTSIDE OF THE REGION
The support conditions along this isolated boundary (polygon defining Excluder) are user defined. In
most cases, simple support, or no support is applicable. For better results, the boundary is drawn
somewhat larger than the slab region of interest, in order to minimize the impact of the user imposed
conditions on the vibrations of the interest region. The following example illustrates the point.
Technical Note
11
Figure EX18 (a) shows the floor region selected for analysis. Note that the region selected extends
one or more panels beyond the area of interest, in order to minimize the impact of the boundary
conditions selected at the far ends. ADAPTFloor Pro assumes a simply supported boundary condition
at the far ends of the selected region, but the user has the option to modify it.
The first mode of vibration and frequency of the region selected is shown in part (b) of Fig. EX18. Note
that it is somewhat different from the values obtained from the overall analysis shown in Fig. EX5.
(a) Selection of an extended region
(b) First mode of vibration – Frequency 6.07 Hz
FIGURE EX18 SELECTION AND VIBRATION OF AN EXTENDED REGION
REFERENCES
ADAPT TN290 (2010), “Vibration Design of Concrete Floors for Serviceability,” ADAPT Corporation,
Redwood City, CA, www.adaptsoft.com, 2010, pp 20
ATC, (1999) “ATC Design Guide 1,” Minimizing Floor Vibration,” Applied Technology Council,
Redwood City, CA, 1999, 49 pp.
70 kg). TABLE 1 RECOMMENDED DAMPING FACTORS FOR VARIOUS OCCUPANCIES Occupancy Bare concrete floor Furnished.Technical Note 2 – Excting Force of Vibration Select a probable weight of the person (P) likely to be the source of vibration (assume 150 lb. someone who takes 2 steps per second walks at a frequency of 2 Hz. For example.03 0. the fraction of the weight of the person that excites the vibration is 0. Assume a number of steps that the person is likely to take. 1.02 2 .53. In summary: Assume weight of person P = 150 lb Constant force representing the walking force PO = 0.05 0. Referring to Fig. full height partition Shopping malls Damping factor β 0.03 if unsure.5 lb FIGURE 1 DYNAMIC LOAD FACTOR FOR WALKING FORCE 3 – Floor Type Select the appropriate damping factor (β) of the floor system from Table 1.02 0. Use 0. low partition Furnished.53 * 150 = 79.
and fn = first natural frequency (Hz). recommended in Table 1. 6 – Evaluation With the natural frequency (Hz) from Step 1 and the peak acceleration ratio (ap /g) from Step 5 refer to the ATC chart (Fig. 1 and weight of walking person).2 ft/sec2. Note that the ordinate of the chart is in percentage of ground acceleration. Po = constant force representing the walking force (from Fig.Technical Note 4 – Weight of Vibrating Floor Panel Calculate the effective weight (W) of the panel under consideration and the superimposed load that is attached to the floor and follows its vibration. Formula to determine the peak ground acceleration as a result of footfall on a floor panel. The formula gives the value as ratio of ground acceleration “g” ( where ap g ) P0 e0. W = effective weight of the panel and the superimposed dead load.81 m/sec2 ]. 3 .35fn W (Relationship 1) ap = peak acceleration. Figure 2 is chart from Applied Technology Center (ATC) used to determine the perception and acceptability of vibration in a floor system. g = gravitational acceleration [32. before using them in the chart below. Values obtained from Relationship 1 must be multiplied by 100. 2) to determine the acceptability of the vibration. 9. β = modal damping ratio. 5 – Acceleration Caused by Walking Person Use the relationship (1) below to determine the peak acceleration ratio caused by the footfall on the floor (ap /g).
com.adaptsoft.Technical Note FIGURE 2 CHART FOR PERCEPTION AND ACCEPTABILITY OF FLOOR VIBRATION For more details and additional information refer to ADAPT Technical Note TN290 that is available for download at www. 4 .
FIGURE EX1 3D VIEW OF THE FLOOR SYSTEM FIGURE EX2 IDENTIFICATION OF PANEL FOR EVALUATION Step 1 – Natural Frequency Generate a model in the program ADAPTFloor Pro and analyze to determine the first three frequencies of the floor system. Since concrete floors exhibit a somewhat greater stiffness in their dynamic response than under static loads.Technical Note EXAMPLE 1 Figure EX1 shows the view of a concrete floor resting on columns. The floor is furnished with low partitions. EX2. Evaluate the perception and acceptability of vibration of the panel of the floor system shown in Fig. 5 . The lowest (first) frequency generally governs the evaluation.
By default.44 Hz. 6. Figure EX3 shows the interface used to customize the mass combinations used during vibration analysis.97 Hz.33 Hz and 6. The first three frequencies determined are: 5. ADAPTFloor Pro only considers the vertical contribution of selfweight for it modal vibration analysis. FIGURE EX14 – DISCRETIZATION OF THE ENTIRE FLOOR MODEL 6 .2 times the modulus of elasticity given in the codes [ADAPT TN 290].Technical Note it is recommended to use a modulus of elasticity in your model equal to 1. the user has the option to include other mass in the calculation by defining project specific Vibration Combinations. FIGURE EX3 IDENTIFICATION OF PANEL FOR EVALUATION Figures EX14 through EX15 show the discretization of the floor using ADAPTFloor Pro and the results of the first three frequencies. However.
03 . From Fig. walking with 2 steps per second.53 * 170 = 90.Technical Note (a) First mode – frequency 5. 1: Constant force representing the walking force PO = 0. from Table 1.33 Hz (c) Third mode – frequency 6. select a damping ratio β = 0.44 Hz FIGURE EX15 THE FIRST THREE MODES AND FREQUENCIES STEP 2 – Excting Force of Vibration (PO) Assume most persons likely to use the space are 170 lb (70 kg).1 lb STEP 3 – Floor Type Since the floor is furnished with low partitions. STEP 4 – Weight of Vibrating Floor Panel Calculate the effective weight (W) of the panel under consideration and the superimposed load that follows its vibration 7 .97 Hz (b) Second mode – frequency 6.
355. Hence their mass is additive to that of the panel. 0.03 94.02 = 94.5 1000 STEP 6 – Evaluation With the natural frequency (Hz) from step 1 equal to 5.Technical Note The dimensions of the panel are 30 x 26.15 k/cu ft.5 e0. thick and subjected to 20 psf of partitions that are tied to the slab and are going to follow the motion of the slab in harmony. 2) to determine the perception and acceptability of the vibration.53 (from Fig.35 % = 0. The total weight of the panel W is : W 8 = 30 26.35fn W (Relationship 1) P Walking speed DLF P0 fn β W ap g 150 lb 2.5a) = 0. EX1.5 ft.15 0.97 Hz and the peak acceleration ratio (ap /g) from step 5 equal to 0.03 = 94.0 Hz 0.35% refer to the ATC chart (Fig.00347 . 8 .25 0.97 Hz (from Fig. Unit weight of concrete is 0.97 = 0.5 k 79.5 k (420 kN) 12 STEP 5 – Acceleration Caused by Walking Person Use the Relationship (1) to determine the peak acceleration ratio (ap /g) caused by the footfall on the floor ( ap g = = = = ) P0 e0. slab is 8 in.53 *150 = 79. 1) 0.5 lb = natural frequency equal to 5.
9 . EX16 the evaluation parameters indicate that the floor panel is acceptable for office and residential occupancy.Technical Note Floor design FIGURE EX16 EVALUATION OF FLOOR VIBRATION From Fig. but not for operating rooms in hospitals.
It is critical to focus on the response of the location of interest. The area of interest is simply delineated by a Exclude Mesh boundary drawn around it and selecting whether the software should only mesh and analyze inside or outside the polygon region defined. In most cases. you can identify and isolate any subregion of your full 3D building model to determine its vibration characteristic in isolation. simple support. or no support is applicable.Technical Note USING EXCLUDER FUNCTION FOR LOCATION SPECIFIC EVALUATION It can be argued that the response evaluation of a specific panel as performed in the above example is greatly influenced by the vibration values of the entire floor system. the boundary is drawn somewhat larger than the slab region of interest. in order to minimize the impact of the user imposed conditions on the vibrations of the interest region. (a) FEM Process Toolbar with arrow pointing to Exclude Mesh function (a) FEM Process Toolbar with arrow pointing to Exclude Mesh function FIGURE EX17 EXCLUDE MESH FUNCTION ALLOWS USER TO DEFINE ANY POLYGON REGION AND ONLY MESH INSIDE OR OUTSIDE OF THE REGION The support conditions along this isolated boundary (polygon defining Excluder) are user defined. Figure EX12 implies that the frequencies determined are largely influenced by excitations other than the panel under consideration. 10 . shown in Figure EX17. the sensitive laboratory or operating room may cover a fraction of the entire floor area. Using the unique Exclude/Include Meshing function in ADAPTFloor Pro. The following example illustrates the point. For better results. The Exclude Mesh function can be found on the FEM Process Toolbar. This saves the design engineer considerable time by not requiring the creation and maintenance of separate simplified floor models for the sole purspose of vibration analysis. and undertake mitigation measures that are directed to that area. For a more credible evaluation. In a large floor area.
1999. www. 11 . Note that it is somewhat different from the values obtained from the overall analysis shown in Fig. ADAPTFloor Pro assumes a simply supported boundary condition at the far ends of the selected region.adaptsoft.” Minimizing Floor Vibration. EX5. Redwood City. but the user has the option to modify it. CA. (a) Selection of an extended region (b) First mode of vibration – Frequency 6.07 Hz FIGURE EX18 SELECTION AND VIBRATION OF AN EXTENDED REGION REFERENCES ADAPT TN290 (2010). Note that the region selected extends one or more panels beyond the area of interest.” Applied Technology Council.” ADAPT Corporation. EX18.Technical Note Figure EX18 (a) shows the floor region selected for analysis. Redwood City. “Vibration Design of Concrete Floors for Serviceability. in order to minimize the impact of the boundary conditions selected at the far ends. pp 20 ATC. The first mode of vibration and frequency of the region selected is shown in part (b) of Fig. (1999) “ATC Design Guide 1. 49 pp. 2010.com. CA.