The occupancy load limit of a building is a very important number to be aware of – especially for safety reasons. In the case of a fire, structural integrity, active shooter situation, or any other reason why occupants may need to enter or exit quickly, this number has a major impact.
Occupancy loads are determined by a predetermined formula, which may vary depending on the agency responsible for providing them. In general, though, the determination involves the typical use of the building, what size the building is, and how many points of egress there are. These factors play against each other in various ways. For example, in two buildings with the exact same square footage, you can have two different occupancy load limits if one building contains a hair salon and the other is a restaurant. In many cases, the occupancy load is legally required to be displayed at the primary entrance of the building.