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September 6, 2017

Chicago One of First Major Cities to Align with the 2017 National Electrical Code

New electrical code standards support sustainability, safety and savings for residents

The City Council today voted to adopt a major update to the Chicago Electrical Code, making Chicago one of the first major cities to align with the 2017 National Electrical Code. 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.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Department of Buildings introduced the ordinance at the July City Council meeting. The recommendation to update the Chicago Electrical Code was initiated by the Chicago Electrical Commission, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel reinstated in 2015. The code update moves Chicago closer to national standards in several significant areas, including: 

  • Reduced renovation construction costs through expanded use of flexible metal conduit for both residential and non-residential rehabilitation and other updates.
  • New lighting calculation methods and technologies that allow up to an 83% 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 usage.  
  • Latest national standards for sustainable technology including solar power and other renewable energy installations and storage.
  • Updated requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in new construction buildings.
  • Provisions for health care facilities with to allow for enhanced technology and safety. 

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. 

"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 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 electrician, electrical contractors, and electrical utilities.

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