Building Use Group Definitions

Use Group is the first factor that determines the safety requirements for a building. The purpose of a Use Group is to define how the building will be used. The Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code establishes ten general Use Groups with 26 individual Use Groups. Please note that the following is a general listing for familiarization, and does not reference any specific tables or exceptions.

  • Assembly Group A – Gathering together of persons for purposes such as civic social or religious functions, recreation, food or drink consumption, or awaiting transportation
      • A-1 Fixed seating intended for the production and viewing of performing arts or motion pictures
      • A-2 Intended for food and/or drink consumption
      • A-3 Intended for worship recreation or amusement, and other assembly uses not classified elsewhere in Group A
      • A-4 Intended for viewing of indoor sporting events, and activities with spectator seating
      • A-5 Intended for participation in or viewing outdoor activities
  • Business Group B – Office professional or service-type transactions
  • Educational Group E – Six or more persons at any one time for educational purposes through the 12th grade
  • Factory Group F – Assembling, disassembling, fabricating, finishing, manufacturing, packaging, repair or processing operations
      • F-1 Factory Industrial Moderate-Hazard
      • F-2 Factory Industrial Low-Hazard
  • High-Hazard Group H – Manufacturing, processing, generation, or storage of materials that constitute a physical or health hazard in quantities in excess of limits established by the Code
      • H-1 Detonation hazard
      • H-2 Deflagration hazard or a hazard from accelerated burning
      • H-3 Support combustion or present a physical hazard
      • H-4 Health hazards
      • H-5 Semiconductor facilities and comparable research and development areas in which hazardous production materials are used
  • Institutional Group I – People having physical limitations because of health or age are harbored for medical treatment or other care or treatment; people detained for penal or correctional purposes
      • I-1 Housing more than 16 persons on a 24-hour basis who, because of age, mental disability or other reasons live in a supervised residential environment. The occupants are capable of responding to an emergency with help from staff.
      • I-2 Medical, surgical, psychiatric, nursing or custodial care on a 24-hour basis of more than five persons who are not capable of self-preservation.
      • I-3 Inhabited by more than five persons who are under restraint or security.
      • I-4 Occupied by persons of any age who receive custodial care for fewer than 24 hours by individuals other than parents or guardians relatives by blood or marriage or adoption.
  • Mercantile Group M – Display and sale of merchandise, and involves stocks of goods, wares. or merchandise incidental to such purposes and accessible to the public
  • Residential Group R –  Provides sleeping accommodations when not classified as an Institutional Group I
      • R-1 Residential occupancies where the occupants are primarily transit in nature (less than 30 days)
      • R-2 Residential occupancies containing more than two dwelling units where the occupants are primarily permanent in nature
      • R-3 Residential occupancies where the occupants are primarily permanent in nature, and not classified as R-1 R-2 R-4 or I; and where buildings do not contain more than two dwelling units; or adult or child care facilities that provide accommodations for five or fewer persons of any age for fewer than 24 hours
      • R-4 Residential Care/Assisted Living Facilities including more than five but not more than 16 occupants, excluding staff
      • R-5 One and Two Family Dwellings (detached dwellings and townhouses) not more than three stories in height with a separate means of egress and their accessory structures
  • Storage Group S – For storage that is not classified a hazardous occupancy
      • S-1 Moderate-Hazard Storage
      • S-2 Low-Hazard Storage
  • Utility and Miscellaneous Use Group U – Buildings and structures of an accessory character and miscellaneous structures not classified in a specific occupancy