Are the Load Combinations Balanced?

In April’s post about the Omega Factor, one commenter asked of the 1.2 increase allowed by ASCE 12.4.3.3, “Why do they allow a stress increase for allowable combinations? Seems unconservative for steel now that they have essentially balanced the ASD capacity with LRFD.”

To be honest, I have never spent much time analyzing which design methodology was more or less conservative. If I was designing with wood I would use ASD, and if it was with concrete I would use LRFD. Steel was strictly ASD early on in my design career, but LRFD usage grew. The question about balance made me curious. Are the load combinations balanced?

2009 IBC Basic ASD Load Combinations

2009 IBC Basic ASD Load Combinations

2009 IBC LRFD Load Combinations

2009 IBC LRFD Load Combinations

Of course, just comparing the load combinations would be meaningless. We know the LRFD combinations result in higher design forces. But those higher forces are compared to higher design strengths. So we need to normalize things.

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