An in-depth study to understand what Eurocodes are, what they are for and their field of application
In 1975, the European Commission decided to implement an operational program in the construction sector with the aim of overcoming the technical and trade obstacles between the EU Member States.
This program established a set of harmonized technical rules for the design of construction works.
After about 15 years of work, the Commission developed a first draft of the Eurocodes.
With the aim of considering the Eurocodes with the status of European Standards (EN), the CEN (Comité Europé en de Normalisation) is entrusted with the mission to start publication.
Eurocodes: what are they
The Eurocodes (EC) are European design standards used specifically in the construction sector, aligned with existing national regulations, allowing the practitioner to use common calculation methods that can also be adopted in other EU countries.
The Structural Eurocodes Program includes the following rules, generally formed of various Parts:
- EN 1990 Eurocodice: Basis of Structural Design (semi-propabilistic methods to limit states, load combinations, safety factors)
- EN 1991 Eurocodice 1: Actions on structures
- EN 1992 Eurocodice 2: Design of concrete structures (non-reinforced concrete, reinforced and pre-compressed structures)
- EN 1993 Eurocodice 3: Design of steel structures
- EN 1994 Eurocodice 4: Design of composite steel and concrete structures
- EN 1995 Eurocodice 5: Design of timber structures
- EN 1996 Eurocodice 6: Design of masonry structures
- EN 1997 Eurocodice 7: Geotechnical design (geotechnical foundations, supporting walls, etc.)
- EN 1998 Eurocodice 8: Design of structures for earthquake resistance
- EN 1999 Eurocodice 9: Design of aluminium structures
Eurocodes acknowledge the responsibility of regulatory authorities in each Member State and safeguard their right to determine values related to regulatory and security aspects at national level. These values of course can vary from State to State.
Eurocodes: what are they for?
Eurocodes serve as reference documents for the following objectives:
- To verify the compliance of buildings and civil engineering works and in particular to meet the following requirements:
- mechanical strength and stability
- safety in case of fire
- for drawing up contracts for construction works and relating engineering services;
- to define harmonized technical specifications for construction products (EN and ETA).
Eurocodes also provide common rules for the following purposes:
- structural design, commonly in use;
- design of structures;
- design of structural components, either of traditional or innovative types.
Eurocodes and National Annexes
So National Codes implementing Eurocodes contain the full Eurocode standard (including all annexes), as published by CEN.
National Annexes may only contain information relevant to specific design parameters that are to be used during the design phases for buildings and civil engineering works to be carried out in a Eurocode compliant country, for example:
- values and/or classes for which Eurocode alternatives are provided
- specific values to be used, for which only a symbol is provided in the Eurocode
- specific country data (geographical, climatic, etc.), for example, the snow fall map
- procedures to be used when Eurocode proposes indications
- decisions regarding the application of information appendices
- references to non-contradictory and complementary information that will help apply the Eurocode during design