Chicago modernizes building codes
For the first time in 70 years, Chicago is giving its building code a complete update, which will pave the way for utilizing cost-efficient construction materials and innovative technologies. The International Code Council is working closely with the city of Chicago to support its modernization efforts and provide the technical and training resources necessary to ensure a smooth transition and successful implementation. The proposed changes will be phased in from June 1 to Aug. 1, 2020. The last major revisions to the code were adopted in 1949.
“We are pleased to support the Department of Buildings’ work to modernize the city’s building codes based on the International Codes, the most widely used and adopted set of building safety codes in the world,” said Code Council Senior Vice President of Government Relations Sara Yerkes. “This modernization advances building safety in the city, contributes to creating consistent codes across the state and will help Chicago attract more business.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced a major building code revision calling for new standards, material flexibility, sustainability measures and much more that will streamline the building department’ process and provide consistency and uniformity throughout Chicago. “Being a world-class city and attracting the talent and businesses that see our economy growing requires that Chicago is at the top of national standards from the ground up,” said Mayor Emanuel.
The Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Buildings’ proposal will require sprinkler systems in new apartment buildings with four or more units, hotels, event spaces holding more than 300 people, and office buildings over 70 feet tall. Additionally, the updated codes will provide the following benefits to Chicago:
- Adopt specific, up-to-date requirements for a wide range of building materials such as walls, roofs and other construction that will provide guidelines and standards that are lacking in Chicago’s existing code.
- Adopt the International Building Code’s terminology and classification systems for construction types and building occupancies, allowing Chicago builders and architects to easily adhere to the city’s code requirements.
- Encourage new development by allowing structures (with sprinkler systems) to have greater height, number of stores, and floor area per construction type.
- Promote energy efficiency and sustainability by making it easier to construct green buildings. Bamboo flooring, for instance, is a popular flooring option when it comes to sustainability due to its ability to grow to maturity in as little as three to five years.
- Improve public safety in the event of a natural disaster through seismic design requirements for critical establishments such as fire stations, hospitals, and taller facilities.
- Allow for cost-effective construction plans for single-family homes by implementing risk-based structural design requirements, meaning a two-story single-family home will not need to meet the same building requirements as 15-story buildings. With the average new mortgage balance being $244,000, any cost-saving measures are sure to be appreciated by homebuyers.
- Encourage preservation of Chicago’s existing buildings, including historic structures, by providing more flexibility and options for remodeling work. Additionally, this will bring down the cost of projects like the adaptive re-use of schools, retail buildings, and many of the city’s vacant buildings.
“From the beginning of this monumental effort we’ve led a consensus-based approach and worked together with a wide variety of stakeholders to better align Chicago’s building code with model codes and standards,” added Judy Frydland, Commissioner of the Department of Buildings for the city of Chicago. “This accomplishment would not have been possible if not for the time and resources that were volunteered by so many within Chicago’s design, construction and development communities.”
Click here to see Frydland’s full remarks to the City Club of Chicago.