The development of sophisticated nanotechnologies requires ultra-low vibration research and production environments. Human footfall is a significant source of vibration and if its effects are not assessed accurately during the design of facilities workspaces may be rendered unusable for certain sensitive equipment. Several semi-empirical methods for predicting footfall induced vibration are widely used in the USA, Canada and the UK. These methods were based on research available in the 1970s and are written with hand calculation in mind. Whilst they provide a basic level of checking for floors similar to those against which they were calibrated, extensive research over the past 25 years coupled with modern design-office computer analysis capabilities enable improved methods of greater accuracy and more general applicability to be developed. For this reason Arup has developed new 'performance based' prediction procedures based on fundamental principles of structural dynamics and incorporating recent and comprehensive experimental research into footfall forces. The methods are not restricted by the approximations and inaccuracies inherent in the old empirical approaches, and extensive calibration against field measurements has shown it to be far more reliable than the other methods currently in use.
This paper presents the new methodologies, which are consistent, physically intuitive and applicable to the majority of structures of any construction material. In order to demonstrate the improved reliability of predictions made by the new methods, vibration levels predicted by this and other methods (AISC, BBN, and Steel Construction Institute (UK)), are compared with measurements from buildings with various types of floor construction.