- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 28 Jan 2019
Loads are forces that may cause stresses, deformations, displacement and accelerations on a building. Different types of load can act upon a structure or building element, the nature of which will vary according to design, location, and so on. Assessing loads forms part of an engineer’s structural calculations – a crucial part of ensuring the safe design of building structures and other built assets such as tunnels, bridges and dams. Design requirements are generally specified in terms of the maximum loads that a structure must be able to withstand.
For more information see: Types of load.
 Live loads
Live loads (also known as applied or imposed loads) may vary over time and often result from the occupancy of a structure. Typical live loads may include; people, the action of wind on an elevation, furniture, vehicles, the weight of the books in a library and so on.
A live load can be expressed either as a uniformly distributed load (UDL) or as one acting on a concentrated area (point load). It may eventually be factored into the calculation of gravity loads. In the UK and much of Europe, live loads are expressed as kilo Newtons per square metre (kN/m2) while in the US the unit is pounds per square foot (PSF).
In contrast, dead loads - also known as permanent or static loads - remain relatively constant over time and comprise, for example, the weight of a building’s structural elements, such as beams, walls, roof and flooring components. Dead loads result from the weight of the structure or other fixed elements before any live loads are taken into consideration. They may include permanent non-structural elements such as partitions, immovable fixtures and even built-in cupboards.
For more information see: Dead loads.
Eurocode BS EN 1991-1-1:2002 Eurocode 1 Actions on structures (General actions. Densities, self-weight, imposed loads for buildings (formerly BS 6399-1:1996)) is the European code of practice for dead and imposed loads and gives guidance on the structural design of buildings.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
3 World Trade Center designed by RSH+P
The struggle to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
What is 'agent of change' and who does it protect?
A consistent and measurable approach to home adaptation.
Acknowledging and challenging the realms and interpretations of heritage.
Embodied carbon in construction steel.
A prototype for assessing circularity in buildings.
New Wiki site is set to make BIM mainstream.
FMEA is a step-by-step approach for collecting knowledge about possible points of failure.
The various types and everything else.