Seismic safety of structures depends on the structure's ability to absorb the seismic energy that is transmitted from ground to structure. One parameter that can be used to characterize seismic energy is the energy flux. Energy flux is defined as the amount of energy transmitted per unit time through a cross-section of a medium, and is equal to kinetic energy multiplied by the propagation velocity of seismic waves. The peak or the integral of energy flux can be used to characterize ground motions. By definition, energy flux automatically accounts for site amplification. Energy flux in a structure can be studied by formulating the problem as a wave propagation problem. For buildings founded on layered soil media and subjected to vertically incident plane shear waves, energy flux equations are derived by modeling the buildings as an extension of the layered soil medium, and considering each story as another layer. The propagation of energy flux in the layers is described in terms of the upgoing and downgoing energy flux in each layer, and the energy reflection and transmission coefficients at each interface. The formulation results in a pair of simple finite-difference equations for each layer, which can be solved recursively starting from the bedrock. The upgoing and downgoing energy flux in the layers allows calculation of the energy demand and energy dissipation in each layer. The methodology is applicable to linear, as well as nonlinear structures. ?? 2000 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.