LBCS Classifies land uses across five dimensions. For local planning purposes, LBCS calls for classifying land uses in the following dimensions:

  • Activity
  • Function
  • Structure Type
  • Site Development Character
  • Ownership

Download LBCS Standards

LBCS Dimensions

Activity refers to the actual use of land based on its observable characteristics. It describes what actually takes place in physical or observable terms (e.g., farming, shopping, manufacturing, vehicular movement, etc.). An office activity, for example, refers only to the physical activity on the premises, which could apply equally to a law firm, a nonprofit institution, a court house, a corporate office, or any other office use. Similarly, residential uses in single-family dwellings, multi-family structures, manufactured houses, or any other type of building, would all be classified as residential activity.

Function refers to the economic function or type of establishment using the land. Every land use can be characterized by the type of establishment it serves. Land-use terms, such as agricultural, commercial, industrial, relate to enterprises. The type of economic function served by the land use gets classified in this dimension; it is independent of actual activity on the land. Establishments can have a variety of activities on their premises, yet serve a single function. For example, two parcels are said to be in the same functional category if they belong to the same establishment, even if one is an office building and the other is a factory.

Structure refers to the type of structure or building on the land. Land-use terms embody a structural or building characteristic, which suggests the utility of the space (in a building) or land (when there is no building). Land-use terms, such as single-family house, office building, warehouse, hospital building, or highway, also describe structural characteristic. Although many activities and functions are closely associated with certain structures, it is not always so. Many buildings are often adapted for uses other than its original use. For instance, a single-family residential structure may be used as an office.

Site development character refers to the overall physical development character of the land. It describes "what is on the land" in general physical terms. For most land uses, it is simply expressed in terms of whether the site is developed or not. But not all sites without observable development can be treated as undeveloped. Land uses, such as parks and open spaces, which often have a complex mix of activities, functions, and structures on them, need categories independent of other dimensions. This dimension uses categories that describe the overall site development characteristics.

Ownership refers to the relationship between the use and its land rights. Since the function of most land uses is either public or private and not both, distinguishing ownership characteristics seems obvious. However, relying solely on the functional character may obscure such uses as private parks, public theaters, private stadiums, private prisons, and mixed public and private ownership. Moreover, easements and similar legal devices also limit or constrain land-use activities and functions. This dimension allows classifying such ownership characteristics more accurately.

LBCS Color Coding

LBCS also includes a set of color codes, to be used as a standard convention for top-level land-use categories for maps, GIS, and other rendering and presentation media. Each of the five LBCS dimensions has nine color values; one for each top-level category. Within each dimension, the color value is constant for the top-level category and all its subcategories.

However, in practice, this may not always be desirable. In such cases, apply "ramping" techniques where a color value is "ramped" to increasing or decreasing shades. For instance, if residential activities is yellow, make all the subcategories of residential activities shades of yellow.

Specify the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) values, instead of relying on color names, for consistent reproduction of colors on a printer, plotter, or computer screen. Using RGB values can sometimes avoid differences in how software and hardware render colors. If your software can only accept hexadecimal values, as many GIS and plotting software do, then use the corresponding RGBHex value.

LBCS Color Coding Spreadsheet (xls)