Modernizing Chicago's Construction Codes
Chicago’s building code and fire code reflect nearly 150 years of wisdom about how to build well and how to build safely in a dense urban environment. Construction requirements, however, must reflect not only the lessons of the past but also provide a framework for the future. The City of Chicago is in the middle of a multi-year effort to realign Chicago’s construction codes, based on widely-used model construction codes, while maintaining longstanding requirements that are well-adapted to local conditions. The current effort began in 2015 and is planned for completition in 2021.
In 2015, Commissioner Judith Frydland reinstated the long-dormant Electrical Commission and charged its members with developing major updates to the Chicago Electrical Code, based on the latest edition of the National Electrical Code. At the same time, she tasked a group of leaders in the elevator industry with developing a framework to update the City’s requirements for elevators and other conveyance devices based on ASME A17.1 and related standards. The new electrical code was adopted in September 2017 and became mandatory March 1, 2018. The new conveyance device code was adopted in March 2018 and became mandatory October 1, 2018.
- Presentation: Chicago Electrical Commission - New Chicago Electrical Code (August 9, 2017)
- Press Release: Chicago One of First Major Cities to Align with the 2017 National Electrical Code (September 6, 2017)
- Ordinance: Electrical Code Adoption (September 6, 2017)
- Ordinance: Electrical Code Technical Corrections (November 8, 2017)
- Summary: New Chicago Conveyance Device Code (March 26, 2018)
- Ordinance: Conveyance Device Code Adoption (March 28, 2018)
- Press Release: City Council Passes Ordinance to Update Sections of Building Code (January 23, 2019)
- Ordinance: Technical Corrections to Electrical and Conveyance Device Codes (January 23, 2019)
- Online Resource: Chicago Electrical Code (read-only, hosted by NFPA)
Phase 2: Administrative Provisions, Building Code, Rehabilitation Code, and Minimum Requirements for Existing Buildings
In 2018, with the Phase 1 codes updates underway, the Department of Buildings began working with other city departments and internal stakeholders to review the International Building Code and related model construction codes published by the International Code Council. Previous efforts to incorporate provisions of the IBC in Chicago had been largely unsuccessful. After developing internal drafts and a project framework, the Department recruited over 150 industry leaders to provide input. Between December 2018 and March 2019, six technical working groups met weekly to review drafts line-by-line, while a stakeholder oversight group met monthly to provide strategic insight and direction. After several spirted meetings, the stakeholder group made a consensus recommendation to move forward with adoption. A 776-page Phase 2 ordinance was adopted in April 2019.
The Phase 2 changes will phase in gradually, with new energy conservation requirements taking effect June 1, 2019; administrative changes effective July 1, 2019; and the new building code requirements becoming optional on December 1, 2019 and mandatory for permit applications started on or after August 1, 2020.
- Publication: Modernizing Chicago's Construction Codes - Phase 2 Code Development Handbook (November 2018)
- Presentation Handout: First Stakeholder Meeting (December 3, 2018)
- Presentation Handout: Final Stakeholder Meeting (March 6, 2019)
- Video: Commissioner Frydland Addresses City Club of Chicago (March 12, 2019)
- Publication: Modernizing Chicago's Construction Codes - Phase 2 Ordinance Overview Booklet (March 2019)
- Press Release: Mayor Emanuel Introduces Major Building Code Modernization to Enable Safer, More Cost Effective and Innovative Construction (March 13, 2019)
- Presentation: Building Chicago's Future: Modernizing Chicago's Construction Codes (March 26, 2019)
- Press Release: Mayor Emanuel Announces City Council Approval of Major Building Code Modernization to Enable Safer, More Affordable, Sustainable and Innovative Construction (April 10, 2019)
- Press Release: Building Code Modernization Enables More Sustainable Design and Construction (April 21, 2019)
- Ordinance: Phase 2 Code Modernization Ordinance
- Title 14N: Energy Conservation Code Excerpts (effective June 1, 2019)
- Title 14A: Administrative Provisions, including June corrections (effective July 1, 2019)
- Permit Fee Provisions (except from Title 14A), including June corrections (effective July 1, 2019)
- Summary: Phase 2 Code Modernization Ordinance: Highlights and Key Dates (May 2019)
- Video: Chicago's Updated Building Code: Basics for the AEC Community (May 2019)
- Ordinance: Technical Corrections to the Phase 2 Code Modernization Ordinance (introduced June 12, 2019)
- Presentation: Using Chicago's New Construction Codes for Small Residential Buildings - Home Builders' Association of Greater Chicago (August 2019)
- Video: Using Chicago's New Construction Codes for Small Residential Buildings (August 13, 2019)
- Presentation Handouts: One-Day Update on the Chicago Construction Codes for Self-Certification Professionals (December 10, 2019)
- Memo: Procedures for Optional Use of the 2019 Chicago Construction Codes
- Ordinance: Technical Corrections to the Chicago Construction Codes (adopted February 19, 2020)
- Presentation Handouts: Basics of the 2019 Chicago Construction Codes (July 24, 2020)
- Memo: Transition to the 2019 Chicago Construction Codes—Permit Applications Started On or After August 1, 2020
- Instructions: Starting a Building Permit Application Using the Hansen Dynamic Portal
- Handout: Questions and Answers About the 2019 Chicago Construction Codes (October 6, 2020)
- Ordinance: Technical Corrections and Adjustments to the Chicago Construction Codes (adopted October 7, 2020)
- Presentation Handouts: Basics of the 2019 Chicago Construction Codes (October 15, 2020)
In early 2021, the Department plans to announce its framework for considering updates to plumbing and mechanical (HVAC, fuel gas) requirements. The Chicago Fire Department continues to study adoption of hazardous occupancy-related requirements found in the International Fire Code.
Suggestions for future code changes should be submitted to DOBCommissioner@cityofchicago.org.