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Live Load on Parking Structures: To Reduce or Not To Reduce

Posted on 2016-03-28

Topics: 2012 IBC, 2015 IBC, ASCE 7-10

It is sometimes interesting, and always a learning experience, to explore how


a certain code provision has evolved over several years. Below is one such
provision that we dug deep into for answering a question we received
recently.

Q. Are live load reductions allowed for parking structures just the same way
they are allowed for most other structures?

A. The current codes do not allow live load reduction unless the member
supports two or more floors. And then only a 20% maximum reduction is
allowed. (2012 and 2015 IBC Section 1607.10.1.3 and Section 1607.10.2
Item 2).

While live load reduction requirements for parking garages has remained
constant over the last few code cycles it wasn't always that way. Both the
1997 UBC and the 1997 SBC had live load reduction based on tributary
floor area. Both permitted what then used to be the uniform design live load
of 50 psf to be reduced up to 40 percent (down to 30 psf) for parking
structure decks. The 1996 BOCA had live load reduction based on influence
area, as in ASCE 7. Live load reduction was not permitted for parking
structure decks.

When the first (2000) edition of the IBC was published, it contained live load reduction based on influence area, as
in ASCE 7, as well as alternate live load reduction based on tributary area, as in the 1997 and prior editions of the
UBC. If one did live load reduction of ASCE 7, no reduction of the 50 psf design live load was permitted for parking
structure decks. However, if one did alternate live load reduction, the 50 psf of uniform design live load was
permitted to be reduced to a value that could be as low as 30 psf.

The 50 psf uniform design live load of ASCE 7-98 for parking structure decks was reduced to 40 psf in ASCE 7-02.
This was reflected in 2003 IBC table 1607.1. However, under alternate live load reduction, the 2003 IBC still
allowed up to 40 percent reduction for parking structure decks. So reduced design live load could be as low as 24
psf. This was corrected in the 2004 Supplement, which added that the reduction could not exceed 10 psf "for
horizontal member in passenger vehicle garages." The reduced design live load thus could not be below 30 psf.

The 2006 IBC added the following Item 3 under 1607.9.2 Alternate floor live load reduction:

"A reduction shall not be permitted in passenger vehicle parking garages except that the live loads for members
supporting two or more floors are permitted to be reduced by a maximum of 20 percent."

The above provision continues until now. In the 2015 IBC, the provision appears as Item 2 under Section 1607.10.2.
Thus, since the 2006 IBC, no reduction in the 40 psf uniform design live load for parking structure decks has been
permitted - either under basic live load reduction or under alternate live load reduction.

See the table below that summarizes the live load and allowed live load reductions.
This is the intellectual property of S.K.Ghosh Associates Inc.

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