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Postsecondary Education

NCES 2006-160
May 2006

3.2.1 Gross Area (Gross Square Feet—GSF)

(See figure 3-2 below)

  1. Definition. The sum of all areas on all floors of a building included within the outside faces of its exterior walls, including all vertical penetration areas, for circulation and shaft areas that connect one floor to another.
  2. Basis for Measurement. Gross Area is computed by physically measuring or scaling measurements from the outside faces of exterior walls, disregarding cornices, pilasters, buttresses, etc., that extend beyond the wall faces. Exclude areas having less than a 3-foot clear ceiling height unless the criteria of a separate structure are met. (See section 2.3, What to Include in a Building Inventory.)

    Measured in terms of Gross Square Feet (GSF),

    GSF = Net Usable Area + Structural Space

  3. Description. In addition to all the internal floored spaces obviously covered above, Gross Area should include the following: excavated basement areas; interstitial space (i.e., mechanical floor or walkways), mezzanines, penthouses, and attics; garages; covered porches, whether walled or not; inner or outer balconies to the extent of a drip line from a roof or balcony immediately above, whether walled or not, if they are utilized for operational functions; and corridors or walkways, whether walled or not, provided they are either within the outside face lines of the building to the extent of the roof drip line or, if covered, to the extent of their cover’s drip line. The footprints of stairways, elevator shafts, and vertical duct shafts are to be counted as gross area on each floor through which they pass.
  4. Limitations. Exclude open areas such as parking lots, playing fields, pools, courts, light wells, and portions of upper floors eliminated by spaces or lobbies that rise above single-floor ceiling height. Exclude unexcavated basement areas.
  5. Exception. Include top, unroofed floor of parking structures where parking is available. (See the section on parking structures after figure 3-8.)

Figure 3-2. Gross Area of a building by floor

Figure 3-2. Gross Area of a building by floor