Definition of Commercial Buildings

A commercial office building.
A commercial office building. (Image: Arthurpreston/iStock/Getty Images)

A commercial building is one that is dedicated to commercial activities. The technical classification of a commercial building for zoning purposes is that it has more than half of its floor space used for commercial activities.


An alternative definition of a commercial building is a structure that is not used for residential or civic functions. Various retailers and other businesses lease space in commercial buildings in order to operate without buying a property.


According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration commercial buildings can be used for various purposes. These include retail, food sales/services, office space, religious worship, warehousing and storage, health care, education, lodging and public assembly.


Commercial buildings are owned by various individuals and group entities who construct them or build them for profit. Developers build commercial properties with the intent to resell for profit or to lease for income. Other investors enter after construction for similar investment purposes. Some commercial buildings are developed by organizations for company operations.

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