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Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS)

Building Type Definitions

In the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), buildings are classified according to principal activity, which is the primary business, commerce, or function carried on within each building. Buildings used for more than one of the activities described below are assigned to the activity occupying the most floorspace at the time of the interview. Thus, a building assigned to a particular principal activity category may be used for other activities in a portion of its space or at some time during the year. In the 1999 and 2003 CBECS, respondents were asked to place their building into a sub-category that was a more specific activity than has been collected in prior surveys. This was done to ensure the quality of the data; after data collection, the subcategories were combined into these more general building categories, which are consistent with prior CBECS surveys.

Building Types:

Building type Definition Includes these sub-categories from 2003 CBECS questionnaire
Education Buildings used for academic or technical classroom instruction, such as elementary, middle, or high schools, and classroom buildings on college or university campuses. Buildings on education campuses for which the main use is not classroom are included in the category relating to their use. For example, administration buildings are part of "Office," dormitories are "Lodging," and libraries are "Public Assembly."
  • elementary or middle school
  • high school
  • college or university
  • preschool or daycare
  • adult education
  • career or vocational training
  • religious education
Food Sales Buildings used for retail or wholesale of food.
  • grocery store or food market
  • gas station with a convenience store
  • convenience store
Food Service Buildings used for preparation and sale of food and beverages for consumption.
  • fast food
  • restaurant or cafeteria
Health Care (Inpatient) Buildings used as diagnostic and treatment facilities for inpatient care.
  • hospital
  • inpatient rehabilitation
Health Care (Outpatient) Buildings used as diagnostic and treatment facilities for outpatient care. Medical offices are included here if they use any type of diagnostic medical equipment (if they do not, they are categorized as an office building).
  • medical office (see previous column)
  • clinic or other outpatient health care
  • outpatient rehabilitation
  • veterinarian
Lodging Buildings used to offer multiple accommodations for short-term or long-term residents, including skilled nursing and other residential care buildings.
  • motel or inn
  • hotel
  • dormitory, fraternity, or sorority
  • retirement home
  • nursing home, assisted living, or other residential care
  • convent or monastery
  • shelter, orphanage, or children's home
  • halfway house
Mercantile (Retail Other Than Mall) Buildings used for the sale and display of goods other than food.
  • retail store
  • beer, wine, or liquor store
  • rental center
  • dealership or showroom for vehicles or boats
  • studio/gallery
Mercantile (Enclosed and Strip Malls) Shopping malls comprised of multiple connected establishments.
  • enclosed mall
  • strip shopping center
Office Buildings used for general office space, professional office, or administrative offices. Medical offices are included here if they do not use any type of diagnostic medical equipment (if they do, they are categorized as an outpatient health care building).
  • administrative or professional office
  • government office
  • mixed-use office
  • bank or other financial institution
  • medical office (see previous column)
  • sales office
  • contractor's office (e.g. construction, plumbing, HVAC)
  • non-profit or social services
  • research and development
  • city hall or city center
  • religious office
  • call center
Public Assembly Buildings in which people gather for social or recreational activities, whether in private or non-private meeting halls.
  • social or meeting (e.g. community center, lodge, meeting hall, convention center, senior center)
  • recreation (e.g. gymnasium, health club, bowling alley, ice rink, field house, indoor racquet sports)
  • entertainment or culture (e.g. museum, theater, cinema, sports arena, casino, night club)
  • library
  • funeral home
  • student activities center
  • armory
  • exhibition hall
  • broadcasting studio
  • transportation terminal
Public Order and Safety Buildings used for the preservation of law and order or public safety.
  • police station
  • fire station
  • jail, reformatory, or penitentiary
  • courthouse or probation office
Religious Worship Buildings in which people gather for religious activities, (such as chapels, churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples). No subcategories collected
Service Buildings in which some type of service is provided, other than food service or retail sales of goods
  • vehicle service or vehicle repair shop
  • vehicle storage/ maintenance (car barn)
  • repair shop
  • dry cleaner or laundromat
  • post office or postal center
  • car wash
  • gas station
  • photo processing shop
  • beauty parlor or barber shop
  • tanning salon
  • copy center or printing shop
  • kennel
Warehouse and Storage Buildings used to store goods, manufactured products, merchandise, raw materials, or personal belongings (such as self-storage).
  • refrigerated warehouse
  • non-refrigerated warehouse
  • distribution or shipping center
Other Buildings that are industrial or agricultural with some retail space; buildings having several different commercial activities that, together, comprise 50 percent or more of the floorspace, but whose largest single activity is agricultural, industrial/ manufacturing, or residential; and all other miscellaneous buildings that do not fit into any other category.
  • airplane hangar
  • crematorium
  • laboratory
  • telephone switching
  • agricultural with some retail space
  • manufacturing or industrial with some retail space
  • data center or server farm
Vacant Buildings in which more floorspace was vacant than was used for any single commercial activity at the time of interview. Therefore, a vacant building may have some occupied floorspace. No subcategories collected, but a question was asked to determine whether the building was completely vacant.
Note: These subcategories are not exhaustive lists of the types of buildings included in each category. For every general category, there are some "other" types of buildings that did not fit into any of these given subcategories.