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Different Types of Building Occupancies and Their Purpose in New York City- NYC

The purpose of classifying buildings into different occupancies in New York City serves several important functions. These classifications help define the nature of the activities or purposes for which a building or structure is designed, which, in turn, influences the design and construction standards, as well as the safety regulations that must be adhered to.

According to the NYC Building Code (2014) the detailed list of building occupancies is as follows:

Assembly Group A:

Assembly Group A includes the use of a building or structure for the gathering of any number of persons for purposes such as civic, social or religious functions, recreation, food or drink consumption, awaiting transportation, or similar group activities; or when occupied by 75 persons or more. 

Assembly Occupancies should include:


Assembly uses with fixed seating, intended for production and viewing of performing arts or motion pictures.


Assembly uses intended for food and/drink consumption including places like banquet halls, cafeterias, dance halls, night clubs, restaurants, and bars.


Assembly uses intended for worship, recreation, or amusement and other assembly uses not classified elsewhere in Group A including places such as, amusement arcades, art galleries, bowling alleys, community halls, courtrooms, custodial care facilities with 75 or more persons (providing care to people over 2), lecture halls, and more that can be found listed here in the NYC building codes.


Assembly uses intended for participation in or viewing outdoor activities including, but not limited to places like amusement park structures, bleachers, stadiums.

Business Group B:

Business Group B includes the use of a building or structure for office, professional, service-type transactions, or for conducting public or civic services.

Business Group B occupancies include places such as air traffic control towers, ambulatory health care facilities, animal hospitals, banks, civic administration buildings, and many more.

Educational Group E

Educational Group E occupancy includes the use of a building or a structure by five or more persons at any one time for educational purposes offered to children through 12th grade and where no more than two children are under the age of 2.

Educational group occupancies include academies, day care facilities, libraries, and schools.

Factory Industrial Group F

Factory Industrial Group F includes the use of a building or structure for assembling, disassembling, fabricating, finishing, manufacturing, packaging, repairing, cleaning, laundering or any other practices that classified as Group H hazardous occupancy.

F-1 Moderate-Hazard Occupancy

Factory industrial uses which are not classified as F-2 (low-hazard occupancy), include occupancies such as aircraft manufacturing, automobile manufacturing, bakeries, carpet and rug cleaning, electric generation plants and many more that are listed in Chapter 3 of the NYC building codes.

F-2 Low-Hazard Occupancy

Factory industrial uses that involve the cleaning, laundering, fabrication, or manufacturing of noncombustible materials which do not involve a significant fire hazard shall be F-2 occupancies.

Factory F-2 occupancies include athletic equipment, automobile laundries, brick and masonry, ceramic products, glass products, ice laundries, machinery, television filming, and many more.

High-Hazard Group H 

High-Hazard Group occupancy includes, the use of a building or structure that involves the manufacturing, processing, generation, or storage of materials that constitute a physical or health hazard in quantities in excess of those allowed in control areas complying with section 414. *It is advisable if you have any questions regarding a high-hazard occupancy, that you visit the High-Hazard Group H occupancy description (with tables) in Chapter 3 of the NYC building codes.

Institutional Group I

The Institutional Group I occupancy includes the use of a building or structure in which people are cared for or live in a supervised environment, having physical limitations because health or age are harbored for medical treatment or other care or treatment or other care or treatment. 

Group I-1

This occupancy includes buildings or structures housing persons on a 24-hour basis, who because of age, mental disability, or other reasons, live in a supervised residential environment that provides personal care services.

Group I-2

This occupancy includes buildings and structures used for medical, surgical, psychiatric, nursing, or personal care on a 24-hour basis or overnight of more than two children under the age of 2, or more than three persons who are not capable of self-preservation and not capable of responding to an emergency situation without physical assistance from staff.

Group I-3

This occupancy shall include buildings and structures that are inhabited by more than five persons who are under restraint or security.

Group I-4

This group includes custodial care facilities providing to more than two children under the age of 2, or more than four persons over the age of 2 who are not capable of responding to an emergency situation without physical assistance from the staff.

Mercantile Group M

Mercantile Group M occupancy includes the use of a building or structure that is used for the display of merchandise, and involves stocks of goods, wares or merchandise incidental to such purposes and accessible to the public.

Mercantile occupancies include places such as department stores, drug stores, sales rooms, retail stores, and more.

Residential Group R

Residential Group R includes the use of a building or structure, or a portion thereof, for dwelling or sleeping purposes when not classified as Institutional Group I. Buildings containing three or more dwelling units shall be subject to the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law. 

Group R-1

This occupancy shall include residential buildings or spaces occupied transiently for a period of less than one month, as the more or less temporary abode of individuals or families who are lodged with or without meals including occupancies such as club houses, transient hotels and motels, vacation timeshares, college student dorms, homeless shelters, and more.

Group R-2

This occupancy should include buildings or portions thereof containing sleeping units or more than two dwelling units that are occupied for permanent resident purposes as defined in Section 27-2004 of the New York City Housing Maintenance Code


Group R-3

This occupancy includes buildings or portions thereof containing no more than two dwelling units, occupied, as a rule, for sleeping and shelter accommodation on a long-term basis for a month or more at a time, and are not classified as Group R-1, R-2, or I.

Storage Group S

Storage Group S occupancy includes the use of a building or structure, or a portion thereof, for storage, such as for warehouses, storage rooms, freight depots, and distribution centers, when not classified as a hazardous occupancy.

Moderate-Hazard Storage Group S-1

Buildings used to store flammable or combustible materials that are likely to permit the development and production of fire with moderate rapidity  including aerosols. Airplane hangars, boat storage, glues, wax, and tobacco to name a few.

Low-Hazard Storage Group S-2

This group includes buildings used for the storage of non-combustible materials such as products on wood pallets or in paper cartons with or without single thickness divisions; or in paper wrappings. Group S-2 storage includes cement in bags, chalk, crayons, dry cell batteries, frozen foods, glass, and more.

Utility and Miscellaneous Group U

This group includes things relatable to carports, private garages, sheds or greenhouses, retaining walls, tanks, towers, fences more than 6 ft high, and many more than can be found at the NYC building codes.

As you can see, different building occupancies in New York City are set to establish a framework that promotes safety, efficient land use, and compliance with regulations. By categorizing buildings based on their use, authorities can apply appropriate standards and regulations to address the unique challenges associated with each type of occupancy. If you need guidance or assistance with your project and the details of its building occupancies and groups, contact our professionals at Built today!

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