Civil MDC

Building Code of Pakistan 2021 BCP-2021 2

Building Code of Pakistan 2021 BCP-2021

Description Credit to: Dr. Fawad Najam

NOTE: On Wednesday 2nd February, the governing body of Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) has approved the new Building Code of Pakistan (BCP-2021). It will soon be available on PEC website after passing through a review from the International Code Council (ICC) and approval from the ministry of science and technology. This updated version adopts the International Building Code (IBC-2021) with several modifications. 

Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) is a Statutory Regulatory Body established under PEC Act 1976 regulating the
Engiueering Profession and Education across Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan has mandated PEC to act as a
national “Think Tank” and provide necessary assistance to the Federal Government on various national policies,
development plans, engineering disciplines and development of codes & standards. Similarly, PEC with the extended
technical assistance of reputed national and international organizations has successfully developed the following Codes:

  • Building Code of Pakistan (2021)
  • Building Code of Pakistan – Seismic Provisions (2007)
  • Building Code of Pakistan- Energy Provisions (2011)
  • Pakistan Electric and Telecommunication Safety Code (2014)
  • Building Code of Pakistan – Fire Safety Provisions (2016)


Pakistan lies on a seismic junction of three major tectonic plates of the world including Eurasian, Indian and Arabian. The
devastating Earthquake of October, 2005 resulted in 87,000 casualties, 780,000 buildings were destroyed and 2.5 million
people became homeless with economic loss around US $ 2.3 billion. During that depth of difficulty and national disaster,
PEC took one step further and constituted a high profile Task Force comprising of eminent experts from academia,
industry, Ministry of Housing & Works, Ministry of Science and Technology, National Engineering Services Pakistan
(NESPAK) along with allied stakeholders, partuer organizations and the never ending assistance provided by the
International Code Council (ICC) and the American Concrete Institute (ACI) for development of first-ever Building Code
of Pakistan – Seismic Provisions in 2007.

The then Prime Minister of Pakistan acknowledged the landmark achievement
and international collaboration between PEC and ICC. The code document was approved by the Cabinet in its meeting
held on 9th August, 2007 and thereby Government of Pakistan notified vide S.R.O. 971(1) 2008 dated 8″‘ September 2008

According to notification section (3) “the provisions of the Building Code of Pakistan – Seismic (2007) shall be
revised by the Pakistan Engineering Council after every jive years or earlier if so required by circumstances”.

Over a period of decade, the frequency of earthquakes have been gradually increasing in Pakistan as per real-time recorded
seismic data by Pakistan Metrological Department In fact, there were five major earthquakes ranging from 6.4 Mw to 7.5
Mw hit almost all metropolis cities in Pakistan. Hence, the mandatory revision of the Code was very much needed in
view of seismic-resilient desigu with durable structural strength, modern typologies of building construction and safe
practices. For revision of the Code, PEC joined hands with the World Bank, NED-UET, NDRMF, ICC and also
constituted a high profile Task Force on updation of Building Code of Pakistan led by Prof. Dr. Sarosh Hashmat Lodi,
Vice Chancellor, NED-UET, Karachi and then Member, PEC Governing Body (2018-2021). After a robust exercise, PEC
Task Force worked diligently and successfully developed Building Code of Pakistan (BCP-2021) in 2021, which is
based on “2021 International Building Code”. It is exclusively developed under international copyright permission
granted to PEC by International Code Council.


The latest Building Code of Pakistan (2021) provides minimum benchmark to ensure seismic resilient building desigu
with mandatory structural strength for all new buildings and also covering the E&M components.

In addition, Appendix A covers first ever “Guidelines for Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Existing Buildings” based on “ASCEJSEI 41
17 Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Existing Buildings”. Appendix-B includes Flood-Resistant Construction”
Appendix-C Mapped Earthquake Acceleration Parameters. The implementation of the Code vest with the Authorities
Having Jurisdictions (AHJs) within their respective jurisdictions and circles across Pakistan

These include an updated probabilistic seismic hazard analysis (PSHA) of Pakistan, updated values of design wind speeds, snow loads, rain loads, provisions for flood-resistant construction, etc. The ASCE 41-17 is adopted as the recommended methodology for the seismic evaluation and retrofit of existing buildings. The IBC-2021 itself mainly refers to the ASCE 7-16 and ACI 318-19 for several analysis and design-related issues for reinforced concrete and steel buildings (e.g., load combinations, or the determination of design loads etc.). With the official adoption of IBC-2021, the updated BCP-2021 also includes all referenced provisions and requirements prescribed in ASCE 7-16 and ACI 318-19 in its jurisdiction. Another important aspect of this development is the permission for the use of alternate design philosophies (e.g., the performance-based design) if approved by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) as accorded by the Section 104.11 of IBC-2021. This will open a new dimension in the prevailing design practice in the country. 

Though it is an important development towards a more resilient Pakistan, the code committee has identified several challenges which require dedicated efforts in order to develop a well-researched building code in the future. There is a whole list of (almost mandatory) contributions which the code committee should’ve made; yet couldn’t make either due to lack of data, absence of a permanent organizational setup for code development, or lack of intellectual resources. These challenges must be addressed in near future to make solid contributions towards the safety of our next generation. As part of the code committee, I feel this obligation with its full severity and seriousness. Therefore, within my areas of interest, I have made a list of few future targets for myself. I urge all colleagues from practice and academia to keep these targets in their focus as well. If you are putting in efforts to achieve any of these targets, count me in.

1) The development of an updated crustal faults model for the seismic hazard analysis of Pakistan and surrounding regions. [I know that the geological survey of Pakistan is already working on it]. 

2) The development of risk-targeted (MCER) seismic hazard maps of Pakistan in accordance with the hazard definitions of ASCE 7-22 and IBC 2021.

3) The development of wind design provisions and 3-sec gust wind hazard maps for Pakistan in accordance with the hazard definitions of ASCE 7-22 and IBC 2021.

4) The development of flood design provisions and flood hazard zonation of Pakistan in accordance with the flood hazard definitions of ASCE 24 and IBC 2021.

5) The development of provisions and methodology for the routine structural evaluation, strengthening, and retrofitting of the existing building stock in Pakistan.

6) The development of simplified provisions for the seismic analysis and design of indigenous low-rise load-bearing masonry structures in Pakistan. 

Soon I am starting a comprehensive series of webinars or video lectures to explain the design implications of shifting from UBC-97 to IBC-2021. In almost all areas of building design, there will be a significant change in conventional practice and I am not sure how the industry will respond to this change. Nevertheless, this is an important development and I believe and hope that it is a step forward towards a safer Pakistan in the future.



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