Indoor Environmental Quality Guidelines

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I.8 Reduce Vibration in Buildings

Provide interior conditions that avoid harmful vibration effects produced by wind sway, transmitted outdoor sources, indoor machinery (especially HVAC) and foot traffic. This will avoid prolonged exposure to unhealthy vibration levels, and enable prolonged comfortable work at a workstation. It will also diminish anxiety and stress due to wind sway on upper floors as well as maintain the value of the building.

Required Performance Criteria

  1. For steel structures, control vibrations in accordance with AISC Design Guide 11
  2. For Steel Joists, control vibrations in accordance with SJI Technical Digest #5: Vibration of Steel Joist-Concrete Slab Floors
  3. For Wood or Concrete Construction, control deflection as follows:
    Live Load Deflection: L/480
    Total Deflection: L/360

Recommended Performance Criteria

  1. To better control vibration, do not construct floors using bar joists

The following recommendations for improved vibration control come from Human Factors Research on the effects of vibration on health and well-being of occupants:

  1. Return period of greater than 0.5% g horizontal acceleration in top third of a high rise (7 stories or greater) building shall not be less than 6 years.
  2. Floor vibration shall be kept above Splittgerber Minimum Complaint Level (approximately 0.001 A rms,g across 4-8 hz resonant with human body components) or 8 hr reduced comfort level (approximately 0.15m/sec2 across 4-8 hz resonant with human body components) for all continuously occupied spaces, restrooms and meeting rooms.
  3. Go beyond Item F to extend floor vibration criterion to all intermittently occupied spaces except storage areas.

Compliance Tools and Resources

  • For Item A: The American Institute of Steel Construction Inc. (AISC) AISC Design Guide 11 can be purchased from AISC Bookstore at
  • For Item B: Steel Joist Institute (SJI) SJI Technical Digest #5: Vibration of Steel Joist-Concrete Slab Floors can be purchased from SJI at
  • For Items E through G: Vibration control practices. Lookup tables. Calculation. See NASA MSIS, Chapter 10 of the Engineering Data Compendium, the Human Factors Design Handbook, and the ISO 2631 (Guide for the Evaluation of Human Exposure to Whole-Body Vibration), all referenced below.

Related MSBG Documents

Supplemental Resources

  • Bechtel, Robert B. & Churchman, Azra, (Eds.) (2002) Handbook of Environmental Psychology. John Wiley & Sons, NY.
  • Boff, K. & Lincoln, J. (Eds.) (1988) Engineering Data Compendium: Human Perception and Performance. Harry G. Armstrong Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.
  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (1982.) Guide for the Evaluation of Human Exposure to Whole-Body Vibration. (ISO 2631-1978/AI 1982) Geneva: ISO.
  • NASA (1995) Man-System Integration Standards. Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX.
  • Salvendy, Gavriel (Ed.) (1987) Handbook of Human Factors. John Wiley & Sons, NY.
  • Watson, Donald. Crosbie, Michael. Crosbie, Michael J. & Callender, Michael H. (1997.) Time-Saver Standards for Architectural Design Data. McGraw-Hill, NY.
  • Woodson, W. E, Tillman, P. & Tillman, B. (1992) Human Factors Design Handbook, 2nd Edition. McGraw-Hill, NY.

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