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News & Press: Management

Chicago Electric Code Update

Thursday, September 21, 2017  
Posted by: ECA
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On September 6, 2017, the Chicago City Council voted to adopt a major update to the Chicago Electric Code, making Chicago one of the first major cities to align with the 2017 National Electric Code (NEC).  The new code will bring additional energy efficiency to Chicago's building industry, imrpove safety requirements and lower costs for residents and businesses.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Buildings introduced the Ordinance at the July City Council Meeting.  The recommendation to update the Chicago Electric Code was initiated by the Chicago Electric Commission, which Mayor Rahm Emanual re-instated 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. 

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.

Please CLICK HERE for a copy of the Ordinance.   The ECA wishes to thank members of the ECA Codes and Standards Committee, as well as the Chicago Electric Commission for their efforts with the code update. The Code is to be enacted in March 2018.  However, there are opportunities for contractors to utilize the new Code at an earlier time-frame.  Further information can be found at the City of Chicago website at:


Portions of this article were excerpted from a Chicago Department of Buildings on-line update – 9/11/2017 issue.


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