Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Department of Buildings Introduce Update To Chicago Electrical Code To Support Sustainability, Safety And Savings For Residents

July 26, 2017

Step to make Chicago one of the first major cities to align with the 2017 National Electrical Code

Mayor’s Press Office 312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Department of Buildings today introduced to City Council a major update to the Chicago Electrical Code, making Chicago one of the first major cities to align with the 2017 National Electrical Code. Based on the review of the Chicago Electrical Commission over the past year, the new Electrical Code will bring additional energy efficiency to Chicago’s booming building industry, improve safety requirements and lower costs for residents and businesses.

“Being a world-class city, and attracting the talent and businesses that keep our economy growing, requires that Chicago is at the top of national standards from the ground up,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Ensuring that Chicago is built for the future, we are taking the national lead in updating the building codes of today to advance sustainability and energy efficiency, keep residents safe and lower costs on electric bills.”

The current Chicago Electrical Code is based on the 1999 National Electrical Code. The proposed code update moves Chicago closer to national standards in several significant areas, including:

  • New lighting calculation methods and technologies that allows up to an 83 percent reduction in lighting design loads, which significantly lowers the cost of electrical installations in multi-family residential and commercial buildings as well as reduces electricity
  • Eight new code articles allowing for sustainable technology including solar power and other renewable energy installations and storage
  • Redrafted provisions on health care facilities with enhanced technology and safety
  • Updated requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in new buildings

Additionally, approximately half of the 156 articles in the National Electrical Code are being adopted with no local amendments, and many other articles are being adopted with only minor amendments.

Retained in the proposed code are several requirements that have provided enhanced electrical safety in Chicago, notably strict requirements for the use of metal conduit and longstanding requirements on emergency lighting, emergency generators and electrical sign regulation.

"In 2015 we reinstated the city's Electrical Commission after a hiatus of 14 years specifically to study opportunities to update the Electrical Code," said Building Commissioner Judy Frydland. "I am grateful to all members of the Electrical Commission for their hard work and expertise. This proposed code update clarifies requirements for state-of-the-art technologies which ultimately reduce the time for permitting and inspections, and save time and money for the building industry."

City officials diligently worked with the Chicago Electrical Commission over the past year to review the current electrical code and how best to align it with the 2017 National Electrical Code. The result is the adoption of new technologies and methods in the building industry and to better align Chicago's Electrical Code with national standards. The electrical commission includes members representing the Building Department, Fire Department, journeyman electricians, electrical contractors, and electrical utilities.