Chicago to Update Electric Code

By: | August 08, 2017

Chicago to Update Electric Code

A major update to the Chicago Electrical Code has been introduced in the City Council.  If adopted, the amendment will make Chicago one of the first major cities to align with the 2017 National Electrical Code.  

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 that will better align Chicago's Electrical Code with national standards. 

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.

"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."

The proposed code retains 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.

It will also codify a February memorandum that permitted use of flexible metal conduit, armored cable, and metal-clad cable in some existing walls, partitions and ceilings during existing building rehabilitation.

The City Council may act on the proposed code as early as September.