Elara Engineering is pleased to initiate an ongoing series to inform building developers, owners and managers of the changes, deadlines, and potentially significant impacts from the City of Chicago’s new construction codes. In this first installment, we provide background information on the new construction codes, identify important dates and highlight recent and upcoming code changes.
Background and Goals
According to a May 2019 presentation from the City of Chicago Department of Buildings, the goal of the new construction codes is “to better align the City of Chicago’s construction requirements with up-to-date model codes and standards used in other major US jurisdictions while maintaining longstanding local requirements that are adapted to unique conditions in Chicago.”
Chicago’s 2015-2021 Code Modernization Process – as the effort is called – has been broken down into three phases:
- Phase I, which includes changes to the Conveyance Device Code and Electrical Code, has been completed.
- Phase II, which includes changes to Administrative Provisions, Building Code, Energy Conservation Code, and Rehabilitation Code, is to be completed between 2017 and 2020.
- Phase III, which includes changes to Fire Prevention Code, Fuel Gas Code, Mechanical Code, Plumbing Code, and (specific) Energy Conservation Code enhancements, is to completed between 2019 and 2021.
Electrical Code (Effective 3/1/2019)
Chicago’s new Electrical Code, which became effective on March 1st of this year, includes the following highlights:
- 20 new code articles taken from the National Electric Code (NEC) including six that deal directly with renewable energy
- Upgraded articles dealing with solar-photo voltaic construction to reflect the new technologies
- Lighting load calculation and service disconnect location exceptions
- New requirements for switched lighting
Energy Conservation Code (Effective 6/1/2019)
The revised Illinois Energy Conservation Code, which adopts the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) with amendments, is effective on June 1, 2019. The law does not apply to buildings designated “historic” or having “landmark status” (interior and exterior separately), buildings exempt from a local building code, and buildings that do not use either electricity or fossil fuel for comfort conditioning. The new Illinois Energy Conservation Code includes the following highlights:
- IECC now addresses both commercial and residential buildings
- Additional compliance paths have been identified including ASHRAE and performance based
- Code officials are required to approve energy compliance in lieu of testing requirements outlined in the previous IECC
- Lighting and lighting control including daylighting requirements have been updated and clarified
- Mechanical equipment efficiency ratings, minimum airflows and required controls have been updated and clarified
Building Code (Effective 8/1/2020)
A new Building Code will be issued by the International Code Council (ICC) in October of 2019 and will ultimately be adopted by the City of Chicago for mandatory use as of August 1, 2020. A transitional period for implementation of the new building code has been outlined by the City of Chicago as follows:
- Test projects utilizing the new ICC Building Code will be accepted by invitation only for permit applications within the City of Chicago during the Fall of 2019.
- Permit applications within the City of Chicago will have the option to submit according to the new ICC Building Code beginning December 1, 2019.
- Minimum standards for compliance with the new ICC Building Codes will be enacted and enforced by the City of Chicago during the Spring of 2020.
- The new ICC building Codes will be mandatory for all permit applications within the City of Chicago as of August 1, 2020.