CODE & STANDARD REFERENCES
What is an Educational Occupancy?
In this video, we are going to explore Educational occupancies.
An Educational occupancy, also known as a Group E occupancy, is an occupancy involving “the use of a building or structure, or a portion thereof, by six or more persons at any one time for educational purposes through the 12th grade” as written in IBC Section 305.1.
More simply stated, an educational occupancy involves a space used for educational purposes for Grades 12 and below.
Unlike other occupancy types, the IBC does not divide Group E occupancies into sub-types, so all educational occupancies are under the “Group E” designation. Additionally, The IBC does not provide an example list of Group E occupancies, but you can easily identify typical educational occupancies from the wording of the definition: elementary, middle and high schools, pre-school and day-care facilities to name a few.
The IBC does specifically identify certain day care facilities as Group E when they are occupied by 5 or more children older than 2 ½ who receive educational, supervisor or personal care services for fewer than 24 hours per day. Many day care facilities fall under these criteria and would be considered a Group E occupancy. However, if your facility involves children less than 2 ½ years of age, it would be considered a Group I-4 occupancy if there are more than 5 children present.
If your facility has 5 or fewer children receiving care, it would be considered either part of the main occupancy in which it is located, or if in a residential dwelling unit, a Group R-3 occupancy.
CHILDCARE IN RELIGIOUS FACILITIES
One key distinction for Group E occupancies is found in IBC Section 305.5.1, which states that spaces within place of religions worship that provide day care during religious functions would not be considered a Group E occupancy. An example would be a church that offers child care during a worship service – the child care room or space would not be considered a Group E occupancy, but rather part of the Group A-3 occupancy in this situation.
Outside of day care arrangements in religious facilities, the IBC also clarifies that educational rooms and auditoriums that are accessory to places of religious worship should be classified as Group A-3 occupancies and not Group E occupancies, assuming the room or space has an occupant load of less than 100. This provision would apply to classrooms, small auditoriums and other learning areas that are typically found in places of religious worship.
Note however, that if these rooms or spaces are used for other than religious education purposes or at times, outside the operation of the religious facility, they would need to be classified as individual occupancies. So, if a religious worship facility has classrooms that are also used as part of a private K-12 school during the week, those classrooms could not be included in the Group A-3 occupancy of the religious facility and would be considered a Group E occupancy.
If your building does contain a Group E occupancy, there are several key code provisions that apply. First, Group E occupancies require an automatic sprinkler system and a voice fire alarm system in most situations.
Second, Group E occupancies have a variety of additional egress requirements found in IBC Chapter 10: panic hardware, wider corridors and provisions for special door locking arrangements.
Finally, if your Group E occupancy is located in an area that involves design wind speed for tornados of 250 mph, a storm shelter is required per IBC 423.5.
So, what is educational occupancy?
In short, it is a building, structure or space used for educational purposes for Grades 12 and below. In the next video, we’ll take a look at Factory and Industrial occupancies.
I’m Chris Campbell. This is MeyerFire University.