Chicago Sustainable Development Policy

Green roof

UPDATED January 2017

The Chicago Sustainable Development Policy has been continually implemented since June 2004. The goal of the policy is to enhance the sustainable performance of projects receiving City assistance. It requires development projects that are receiving financial assistance or special approvals from the City to include sustainable elements.

It has been a driving force in making Chicago a global leader in the green roof movement as well as the number of LEED certified projects. As of 2013, the City of Chicago had more than 500 green roofs totaling nearly 5.6 million square feet. More than 500 development projects have been LEED certified, which equates to roughly 180 million square feet.

The Chicago Sustainable Development Policy was updated in 2016 with the assistance of an Advisory Committee comprising experts in a variety of sustainability fields and extensive public input.

The new policy allows development teams to choose from a menu of strategies that can be tailored to fit the project’s characteristics. Each strategy is assigned a point value. New construction projects are required to achieve 100 points and renovations of existing buildings are required to reach 25 or 50 points depending on the scale of the renovation.

The updated policy provides two compliance paths. One path does not require the building to be certified through a listed building certification program. Projects choosing this path must meet the points required through the strategies listed in the menu.

The second path is for projects that are choosing to achieve building certification. Points are automatically given to these projects depending on the type of building certification being achieved and also the level of certification in some instances. Additional points are required except for projects that are being certified under the Living Building Challenge program.

Some strategies are not available to projects achieving building certification and are marked “NA” in the summary spreadsheet. They are not allowed because they would have been required to reach that type of certification.

The updated policy framework and requirements apply to all Redevelopment Agreements, Planned Development Agreements, Site Plan Approvals and Planned Development Amendments reviewed by the Department of Planning and Development’s Design Review Committee after Jan. 9, 2017.

Sustainable Development Policy Application

The following projects are subject to the policy.

New Construction (100 points required)

  • All Planned Developments
  • Tax Increment Financing (TIF) projects receiving more than $1 million in funds
  • Affordable, multi-family housing projects with more than five units being provided the following types of financial assistance by the City: HOME loans, CDBG loans, Chicago Low-income Housing Trust Fund, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), TIF, tax-exempt bonds, private activity bonds, 501(c)(3) bonds, allocations of LIHTCs from the Private Activity Board, Donation Tax Credits

Renovations (25 points required for moderate renovations, 50 points required for substantial renovations)

  • All Planned Developments
  • Tax Increment Financing (TIF) projects receiving more than $1 million in funds
  • All projects being provided Class L tax credits
  • Affordable, multi-family housing projects with more than five units being provided the following types of financial assistance by the City: HOME loans, CDBG loans, Chicago Low-income Housing Trust Fund, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), TIF, tax-exempt bonds, private activity bonds, 501(c)(3) bonds, allocations of LIHTCs from the Private Activity Board, Donation Tax Credits

Renovation projects are defined as follows.

  • Moderate Renovation Project (25 points required): projects including partial or minor upgrades to building systems and minor repairs to the exterior envelope.
  • Substantial Renovation Project (50 points required): projects including new and/or upgraded building systems and extensive repairs to the exterior envelope.

Policy Details

The following content and forms are provided regarding the Chicago Sustainable Development Policy.

Spreadsheet

  • Provides a broad overview of the menu of sustainable strategies available to developers
  • Can also be previewed by scrolling to the bottom of this page

Handbook

  • Provides a description of each strategy
  • List the documentation that is required to verify compliance
  • Includes links for more information about each strategy

Compliance Form

  • Must be completed and submitted for every project subject to the policy
  • Details the strategies chosen for the project
  • Becomes a part of the project's final agreement: PD Agreement, Redevelopment Agreement, Intergovernmental Agreement, Housing Regulatory Agreement or Class L Ordinance

All comments and questions about the policy should be directed to DPD's Michael Berkshire at michael.berkshire@cityofchicago.org or 312.744.0363.

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