by WBDG Staff



The Warehouse space type is designed to store goods and materials, as well as to allow for the regular circulation of occupants, vehicles, and machinery that are typically associated with the handling of these goods and materials. Essential to this space type is the capacity to accommodate vertical storage, space for vehicle material movement, and anticipated high floor loads.

See also WBDG Warehouse Building Type.

Space Attributes

A wide range of storage alternatives, picking alternatives, material handling equipment and software exist to meet the physical and operational requirements of a warehouse space type, and proper integration of these features is essential. Warehouse spaces must also be flexible enough to adapt to future operations and storage needs. Typical features of Warehouse space types include the list of applicable design objectives elements as outlined below. For a complete list and definitions of the design objectives within the context of whole building design, click on the titles below.

Functional / Operational

  • Efficient Use of Space: Warehouse space types are often designed with higher bays to take advantage of vertical storage. Utilization of space is maximized while providing adequate circulation paths for personnel and material handling equipment such as forklift trucks.
  • Design for Live Loads: Designs should anticipate the loads of stored materials and associated handling equipment, typically 250 LB/SF. Snow, wind, and seismic loads shall be considered where they are applicable. Racking in seismic areas must be built stronger and be better braced.
  • Power and Utility Requirements: Differentiate between spaces that require power and utilities, and those that are for storage only. Depending on the goods being stored and handling equipment required, there may be a need for well-distributed power and utility lines throughout the space. Attempt energy efficient lighting when possible. Warehouse spaces typically include one floor drain for every two bays of storage, as well as sand and oil traps on waste lines.
  • Loading Dock: Warehouse space types are typically designed with one electro-hydraulic dock leveler per every five truck bays.
  • Occupancy: Occupancy Group Classification is Storage Group S in Group S-1 or S-2 classifications with sprinklered construction. See also WBDG Secure/Safe—Fire Protection


  • Special HVAC: Provide proper ventilation under all circumstances. Plan for 100% exhaust from storage areas with paint, petroleum, aerosol, or other minor amounts posing moderate hazard storage conditions. For more information, see High-Performance HVAC and Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality.

Example Program

The following building program is representative of Warehouse space types.


Tenant Assignable Spaces
Qty. SF Each Space Req'd. Sum Actual SF Tenant Usable Factor Tenant USF
Office Spaces       350    
Front Office            
    Clerical 1 80 80      
    General Manager 1 180 180      
    Supervisor 1 120 120      
Office Support Spaces       80    
    Support/File Room 1 80 80      
    Tenant (subtotal)       430 1.34 575
Receiving And Shipping       4,100 1.09 4,481
    Docks 4 400 1,600      
    Staging 1 2,500 2,500      
Warehouse       35,600 1.05 37,536
    Package Disassembly 1 1,500 1,500      
    Package Assembly 1 1,500 1,500      
    Rack Storage 1 20,800 20,800      
    Controlled Storage 2 1,600 1,600      
    Bulk Storage 1 6,000 6,000      
    Inventory Control 2 120 240      
    Dispatcher 1 120 120      
    Forklift Parking 20 112 2,240      
    Tenant Suite       40,130 1.06 42,592
Tenant Usable Areas           42,592

Example Plans

The following diagram is representative of typical tenant plans.

Utility shell with light industrial space type and warehouse space type

Example Construction Criteria

For GSA, the unit costs for Warehouse space types are based on the construction quality and design features in the following table . This information is based on GSA's benchmark interpretation and could be different for other owners.

Relevant Codes and Standards

The following agencies and organizations have developed codes and standards affecting the design of Warehouse space types. Note that the codes and standards are minimum requirements. Architects, engineers, and consultants should consider exceeding the applicable requirements whenever possible.

Major Resources


Building Types

Office Building, Warehouse

Design Objectives

Accessible—Plan for Flexibility: Be Proactive, Functional / Operational—Account for Functional Needs, Secure / Safe—Fire Protection, Secure / Safe—Security for Building Occupants and Assets, Sustainable—Optimize Energy Use