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EC2 and BS8110 compared

Dr R M Moss BSc PhD CEng MICE MIStructE, Building Research


Rod Webster CEng FIStructE, Concrete Innovation & Design

This paper is intended for publication in the Structural Engineer


This paper is intended to raise awareness amongst the Structural Engineering

Profession of the forthcoming Eurocode for the Design of Concrete Structures
EC2 which will in a few years replace the existing British code BS8110.

The two codes are compared in the context of design of primary structural
elements and information is given on the availability of design aids to assist
the practitioner in becoming familiar with and using the new code.


Concrete, structure, design, codes of practice, standards, aids


The ENV version of Eurocode 2 Part 1 General Rules and Rules for Buildings
has been around for some years as a draft for development. A National
Application Document (NAD) was prepared to be used in conjunction with the
ENV and together with the main document was published by BSI in 19921.

The intention was that this document would be trialled on real structures and it
is referred to in Approved Document A of the Building Regulations. However
use of the existing ENV is believed to have been very limited.

As part of the wider European Harmonisation process and linked to the

requirements of the Construction Products Directive, considerable effort has
been expended in recent years in converting the ENV version of the code into
a full EN. The EN status means that eventually the code will become
normative if and when it is accepted by formal voting. For practical purposes
normative in the UK means that it will have the same status as and eventually
replace BS8110.
Timetable for the introduction of EC2

The EN versions of Part 1 and 1.2 of the code dealing with fire have been
through several draft revisions and are now being finalised1. The target date
for publication of these Parts of the code is Summer 2003.

There will be National Annexes to accompany each part of the code, which
will include values for what are called Nationally Determined Parameters. In a
similar way to the NAD the intention is that the code will be used with the
appropriate National Annex in each member state.

These National Annexes are in course of preparation and it is intended to

make them available for Public Comment through BSI when the main code is

Grades of concrete

EC2 allows benefits to be derived from using high strength concretes, which
BS8110 does not. Concrete strengths are referred to by cylinder strengths,
which are typically 10-20% less than the corresponding cube strengths. The
maximum characteristic cylinder strength fck permitted is 90N/mm2, which
corresponds to a characteristic cube strength of 105N/mm2.

Materials and workmanship

Part 1 of EC2 specifically does not cover this and a separate standard (termed
an Execution Standard) has been prepared. This is currently in ENV form and
a national document based on the existing National Structural Concrete
Specification2 is in preparation and is expected to be available towards the
end of 2003.

One issue, which does need to be considered as part of the main code, is the
tolerance on cover. Cover to meet durability and bond requirements is
specified as a minimum value with a tolerance of up to 10mm to be added on
top. This is in contrast to BS8110 where cover is specified as a nominal value
and a tolerance of 5mm accepted. In situations where good quality control is
exercised there is scope for reducing the tolerance.

Note that cover for fire requirements needs to be considered separately.

Design for fire

This paper does not consider this topic, and in making comparisons between
BS8110 and EC2 assumes that covers and dimensions of members are
largely unaffected by the changed design process.

The full references are EN1992-1-1 Eurocode 2: Design of concrete structures - Part 1:
General rules and rules for buildings and EN 1992-1-2 Eurocode 2: Design of concrete
structures Part 1.2: General rules – structural fire design
In Part 2 of EC2 there is a prescriptive method encompassing simplified
approaches based on covers and member dimensions, which is broadly
similar to the approach taken in BS8110. There are however also more
sophisticated performance based methods that can be used and the
information is much more extensive than in Part 2 of BS8110.

It is envisaged that a specific How to design leaflet4 will be prepared to assist

engineers in relation to this topic.

Some further guidance on this topic can be found in a paper prepared by

Professor Narayanan3.

Design for durability

In making comparisons between BS8110 and EC2 this paper assumes that
covers are largely unaffected by the changed design process. Simplified
guidance to enable engineers to specify appropriate grades of concrete for
particular exposure conditions with appropriate covers is in course of
preparation and will be included within the National Annex to the code.

There is a difference in approach with theoretically at least durability issues

being considered more explicitly. For example the code has classifications
based around potential deterioration mechanisms and the designer should
identify the most severe conditions in any particular case, rather than simply
assessing the environmental exposure.

The concept of an explicitly defined design life and the recognition of the need
to take additional measures if this design life is required to be significantly
exceeded must be seen as a positive step forward.

Material Partial Safety factors

As with BS8110 EC2 uses a basic material partial safety factor γm for concrete
of 1.5. Several years ago the material partial safety factor for reinforcing steel
in BS8110 was reduced from 1.15 to 1.05. EC2 uses a value of 1.15 although
this is subject to a National Annex. This is unlikely to have any practical
impact however as steel intended to meet the existing yield strength of
460N/mm2 assumed by BS8110 is likely to be able to meet the 500N/mm2
assumption made by EC2, so that the design yield strength fyd will be virtually

Design values for loading

In due course these will be given by EC1. The comparisons made in this
paper in general consider only the resistance side of the equation although
some mention is made of the partial load factors to be used. It is worth noting
that a value of 25kN/m3 is taken for the density of normal weight concrete as
opposed to the currently assumed value of 23.6 kN/m3.
The combined impact of the partial load factors in conjunction with values for
basic design loads and other items such as column load reduction factors and
the assessment of slenderness in column members has been considered as
part of a separate small-scale study in relation to a whole building design. The
building studied was a typical RC framed flat slab structure.

The conclusions from this study were that, at least for the particular building
studied, the overall impact of using EC2 instead of BS8110 was minimal.

Design of flexural elements at the ultimate limit state

The design of flexural elements to EC2 is in practice very similar to that of

BS8110. Where EC2 differs, as with the ENV, is that it does not generally give
element specific design guidance, but more the general principles to be
applied. This approach should be welcomed, as it is less restrictive and may
encourage innovative design methods.

Several options are given for the type of stress-strain relationship that may be
assumed for concrete. In many cases the designer is likely to opt for the
simple rectangular stress block.

The stress block used in EC2 is compared with that in BS8110 below.

EC2 stress block

BS8110 stress block

There has been some debate as to what is the most appropriate value to take
for αcc. The recommended value in the code is 1.0 but it is likely that the UK
National Annex will require a value of 0.85 to be used. The parameter η has
been introduced into EC2 and in combination with modification of the value for
λ has the effect of reducing the allowable concrete force for higher strength
concretes (above C50/60).

For concrete strengths up to this value λ=0.8 and η=1.0.

The following basic equations may be derived for the design of elements in

M α cc xmaxηλ  λx 
K= K '=  d − max 
bd 2 f ck d γc 
2 
d γc 
z= 1 + 1 − 2 (min K , K ') ≤ 0.95d
2 ηα cc 
M 2 = bd 2 f ck (K − K ') ≥ 0
As2 =
f sc (d − d 2 )
M −M2 f
As = + As 2 sc
f yd z f yd
In these equations xmax is the maximum neutral axis depth permissible before
compression steel is to be provided. This in turn depends on the amount of
redistribution assumed. The effect of redistribution is dependent on the
concrete strength with one set of values up to and including C50 and a
differing set of values for higher concrete strengths. The values are subject to
a National Annex, and the UK recommended values for strengths up to C50
lead to the following equation:

xmax = (δ - 0.4)d

where for example δ =1.0 means no redistribution and δ = 0.8 means 20%
redistribution. This is basically the same equation as in BS8110. It may also
be considered advisable to set some upper limit on xmax regardless of the
amount of negative redistribution (i.e. redistributed M being greater than
elastic M).

The effect of redistribution is also dependent on the ultimate compressive

strain of the concrete, which for strengths above C50 reduces from 0.0035.

M2 is the additional moment to be carried by the compression steel.

fsc is the design stress in the compression steel, which for concrete strength
grades up to C50 may be calculated from:

fsc = 700((x-d2)/x) ≤ fyd

Parametric studies have been carried out looking at the impact of the different
stress block on the design of rectangular beams using linear elastic analysis
with limited redistribution. In these studies αcc was taken as 1.0 and the
redistribution formula was taken as xmax = (δ - 0.4)d with xmax limited to 0.6d.
The conclusion from this study was that there was very little practical
difference between EC2 and BS 8110. This conclusion can also be
reasonably extended to solid slabs designed using linear elastic analysis with
limited redistribution.

Span/depth ratios

In both BS8110 and EC2 the allowable span/depth ratio depends on concrete
strength and tension and compression reinforcement ratios. The attached
flowcharts show how the permissible span/depth ratio is arrived at in each

A detailed parametric study on span/depth ratios has been carried out

comparing the provisions of the two codes in relation to the minimum
permitted depth of rectangular beams for a given span. The influence of
increasing the allowable tension steel was considered by allowing a maximum
increase of 100% (i.e. double) that required for the ultimate limit state,
although there is no upper limit stated in EC2. 20% redistribution was
assumed for all continuous spans.

The study showed that EC2 tended to be more conservative at low concrete
strengths. However EC2 permits much higher span/depth ratios for cantilevers
where a low reinforcement percentage is used, even restricting the maximum
enhancement in steel area. In practice however, economic rather than
minimum permissible depths will generally be used, and these are very similar
in both codes.


When checking normal shear, EC2 is the same as BS8110 in that there is a
shear stress below which only minimum shear reinforcement need be
provided. In EC2 as in BS8110 this shear stress depends on concrete
strength, effective depth and tension steel ratio.

The recommended design shear stress of the concrete alone for comparison
with the values of vc given in Table 3.8 of BS8110 is:

k (100 ρ l f ck )
1 3
v Rd ,c = 3 ≥ 0.035k 2
f ck

Where k = 1 + √(200/d) ≤ 2

ρl = As /(bd) ≤ 0.02
The value 0.18/γc and the expression for the minimum concrete shear stress
are subject to the National Annex.

Choosing a value of 0.12 for 0.18/γc in the above equation, and the expression
for concrete shear stress as given above, BS8110 generally allows a higher
shear stress before shear steel is required. Because of the minimum shear
stress that can be carried, EC2 can however allow higher shear stresses for
low reinforcement percentages and this effect is accentuated the higher the
strength of the concrete.

EC2 differs from BS8110 in that above the limit at which the concrete alone
has sufficient capacity, the designed shear steel to be provided is determined
ignoring the contribution from the concrete. The design method used is known
as the variable strut inclination method and is based on a truss model.

For members not subjected to axial forces the required area of shear steel
needing to be provided in the form of links at a distance d from the support
face is given by:

Asw /s = VEd /(0.9d fywd cotθ)

This compares with the BS8110 equation:

Asv /sv = bv(v-vc) /fyvd

The designer should choose an appropriate angle θ (the angle between the
assumed concrete compression strut and the main tension chord) to use in
the model. The limits on θ are between 22 and 45 degrees such that cot θ is
greater than or equal to1 but less than or equal to 2.5.

The maximum shear capacity depends on θ. The lowest possible value of θ

(maximum cot θ) should therefore be chosen within the limits above.

As with BS8110 there is also an upper shear stress which cannot be

exceeded. In BS8110 this limit is 0.8√fcu ≤ 5 N/mm2. In EC2 this corresponds
to taking θ = 45 degrees, which gives a recommended upper limit to the shear
stress for non-prestressed members of:

0.45 ν fcd

where ν = 0.6(1-fck/250)
fcd = αccfck/γc

If the design stress of the shear reinforcement is below 80% of the

characteristic yield stress fyk, ν may be taken as:

ν = 0.6 up to C60
ν = 0.9 - fck/200 > 0.5 for grades above C60

The two codes have been compared choosing values of αcc = 0.85 and γc =1.5
and ignoring the increase allowable for ν if the stress in the shear steel is
restricted. EC2 will allow a smaller maximum shear capacity at low strengths
but a higher capacity at higher strengths principally arising from the cut off of 5
N/mm2 in BS8110.

The increase in the allowable shear stress becomes quite significant when
increased values of ν are permitted even ignoring the cut-off in BS8110 as
illustrated in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Comparison of maximum permissible shear stresses



Shear stress (N/mm )

EC2 shear steel stress restricted
BS8110 (40N/mm2 limit removed)

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

For a given required shear capacity the amount of shear steel to be provided
when designing to EC2 is dependent on cot θ which should be maximised as
stated above. In practice the following inequality needs to be satisfied:
ω + ω2 −4
1 ≤ cot θ = ≤ 2 .5
0.9b w dνf cd
where ω = cot θ + tan θ =
V Ed
Indirectly the concrete strength can therefore influence the amount of shear
steel provided if cot θ needs to be less than 2.5 to satisfy the criterion on
maximum shear capacity.

The two codes can in general be expected to give similar results in terms of
the number and spacing of links to be provided.

Design of compression elements at the ultimate limit state

EC2 does not give separate guidance on the approach to be used to

designing a column under a known combination of moment and axial force.
For practical purposes as with BS8110 the rectangular stress block used for
the design of beams may also be used for the design of columns. However
unlike with BS8110 the maximum compressive strain when designing to EC2
will be less than 0.0035 if the whole section is in compression and will fall to
half this value (fck ≤ 50N/mm2) if the section is subject to pure compression as
illustrated below. This will affect the steel strains and hence forces which the
steel can carry.
N-M interaction charts for a 300mmx300mm section with these assumptions
have been produced taking a value of αcc= 0.85 and give close agreement
between EC2 and BS8110 as illustrated in Figure 2. The horizontal cut-off line
on the EC2 curve has little practical effect, as it will normally fall within the
zone of minimum applied moment.

Figure 2: N-M Interaction charts for C35/45 concrete

d/h = 0.82 (alpha cc = 0.85)

N/bh (N/mm )

25 BS8110 4T32
15 EC2 4T32
0 2 4 6 8
2 2
M/bh (N/mm )

Dealing with slenderness

The first step in deciding whether a column is slender is to determine the

effective lengths in both directions. The effective lengths are in turn dependent
on whether the column may be assumed to be braced or unbraced (“non-
sway” or “sway” in EC2 terminology).

BS8110 provides tables of values of β with assessment of the end conditions

that are appropriate. β can range from 0.75 to 2.2. EC2 appears more
complicated in that an assessment needs to be made of the relative
flexibilities of the rotational restraints at each end of the column. However this
process can be simplified by making conservative assumptions.
Having determined the effective lengths the slenderness ratios can then be
calculated. In BS8110 the limits on slenderness ratio lex/h and ley /b are 15
(braced) and 10 (unbraced).

In EC2 the allowable slenderness ratio λ is calculated from l0/i where i is the
radius of gyration of the uncracked cross section. For a rectangular section
ignoring the reinforcement this simplifies to λ =3.464 l0/h where l0 is the
effective length. The slenderness should be checked in both directions.

Where the column is slender when designing to EC2 and using the nominal
curvature method which it is probably the most straightforward, the final
design moment is increased by the additional moment to account for second
order effects. Once this adjustment has been made the N-M interaction charts
may be used as before. The same approach is used for BS8110 except that
the second order moments will be calculated differently.

Biaxial bending

EC2 states that a separate design may initially be carried out in each principal
direction. Imperfections need be taken into account only in the direction where
they will have the most unfavourable effect.

No further check is necessary if:

λy / λx ≤ 2 and λx / λy ≤ 2
and (ey/h)/(ex/b) ≤ 0.2 or (ex/b)/(ey/h) ≤ 0.2

ex and ey are the effective total eccentricities including second order effects.

If biaxial bending needs to be considered the following simplified criterion may

be used:

(MEdx/MRdx)a + (MEdy/MRdy)a ≤ 1.0

MEdx,y = Design moment of resistance in the respective direction including

second order effects

MRdx,y = Moment of resistance in the respective direction

a = exponent dependent on geometry

When it is necessary to consider biaxial bending BS8110 states that

symmetrically reinforced rectangular sections may be designed to withstand
an increased moment about one axis. It is known that this approach can be
unsafe in extreme circumstances, so the introduction of the above equation in
EC2 should be welcomed.
Strut and Tie models

These are beyond the scope of this paper. However it is hoped to include
some guidance on this in a future paper underpinning the provisions within the
National Annex for the code.

Robustness and tying requirements

This is currently covered in the section dealing with detailing requirements.

The UK has pushed for and has had accepted National Annex provisions for
all forms of ties except vertical ties, allowing the requirements to be brought
into line with BS8110. This issue will need to be revisited in the light of the
current proposed revisions to Approved Document A of the Building

Flat slabs

EC2 Part 1 now has an Informative Annex dealing with flat slabs which was
noticeably absent from the ENV version. The widths of column and middle
strips are the same as in BS8110. The percentages of moments carried by
these strips are given as ranges but the BS8110 values fall within these
ranges and hence may still be used.

The other major issue when designing flat slabs is dealing with punching
shear. The code provisions in EC2 dealing with this topic have recently been
revised and it is believed worthwhile to revisit the implications of these. Initial
indications are that EC2 is marginally more economic, mainly because the link
arrangements are more efficient. Detailing of links should also be easier.

Simplified load combinations and load cases

The complete set of possible load combinations and load cases is obtained
from EN1990 Basis of Structural Design. In practice these can be simplified
greatly for the design of everyday building structures.

For practical purposes the UK National Annex is currently permitting the

simplified load combinations of all spans and alternate spans loaded as per
BS8110 to be considered sufficient in the majority of cases.

For slabs the UK National Annex is currently permitting the all spans loaded
condition to be considered sufficient subject to the restrictions as currently
imposed in BS8110.

A major difference between the two codes is the partial safety factor
appropriate to the dead load for unloaded spans.

Three load combination equations are permitted in EN1990 dubbed 6.10,

6.10a and 6.10b. Which equation is used has a bearing on the load factors
and the more complicated expressions 6.10a and 6.10b can offer some
additional potential economies to the designer.
In the simplest case using the basic equation 6.10 the values may be
summarised as below. In the table γG is the partial load factor appropriate to
dead loads and γQ that appropriate to imposed (live) loads.

EC2 BS 8110
Loaded spans: γG = 1.35, γQ = 1.5 γG = 1.4, γQ = 1.6
Unloaded spans: γG = 1.35 γG = 1.0

Strictly speaking the above table relates only to the design of loaded spans.
The design of unloaded spans should theoretically be considered separately
taking γG = 1.0 on all spans, but in practice this is very rarely likely to prove
the governing load case.

Detailing issues

It is believed that spacing rules may lead to more and smaller bars, unless
crack widths are checked.

There is a requirement that beam top steel should be distributed across

flanges (both tension and compression).

Availability of design aids

A suite of practical design aids to assist practising engineers to become

familiar with and apply the code is currently in course of preparation. These

1. A set of Excel based spreadsheets, to complement the existing highly

popular set of spreadsheets to BS8110 produced by the Reinforced
Concrete Council (RCC)
2. A series of How to Design Leaflets explaining the basic design concepts
for primary structural elements available on-line and to be freely
3. A concise code summarising the key information within the code required
for everyday use and appropriate values from and references to other
supporting codes
4. Worked Examples for the Design of Concrete Buildings

A helpline facility is planned to be set up so that frequently asked questions

can be answered and a dedicated website is now on-line
and will be expanded to provide links to available sources of information. This
will complement other activities such as the RCC’s Calcrete Computer Aided
Learning package.
Concluding remarks

1. The advent of EC2 as for the other Eurocodes will have a big impact on
the design of all types of structures. There will be a learning curve
associated with gaining familiarity and using the new code.

2. To make this as painless an exercise is possible, the concrete industry in

conjunction with BRE, are producing design aids and information to assist
the profession, and can answer detailed queries, by way of answers to
frequently asked questions posted on the above website.

3. In general EC2, used in conjunction with the National Annex, is not wildly
different from BS8110 in terms of the design approach. It gives similar
answers and offers scope for more economic structures.

4. There will be an opportunity for comment on the values proposed for the
Nationally Determined Parameters to be included within the National
Annex, before it is published.

5. Overall EC2 is less prescriptive and its scope is more extensive than
BS8110 for example in permitting higher concrete strengths. In this sense
the new code will permit designs not currently permitted in the UK, and
thus give designers the opportunity to derive benefit from the considerable
advances in concrete technology over recent years. The authors believe
that, after an initial acclimatisation period, EC2 will be generally regarded
as a very good code and a step in the right direction.


The authors would like to acknowledge the funding for this work provided by
the ODPM and the BCA. The paper is endorsed by the Concrete Industry
Eurocode 2 Group (CIEG) referred to in Reference 4.


1. DD ENV 1992-1-1:1992 Eurocode 2: Design of concrete structures Part 1.

General rules and rules for buildings, BSI 1992.
2. National Structural Concrete Specification for Building Construction,
Second Edition, BCA Publication 97.378, July 2000.
3. EUROCODES, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Civil
Engineering Special issue Two, November 2001, Volume 144.
4. Pal please provide final reference for your paper