By Christopher E. Chwedyk, CSI, AIA
Back in October 2008, this column contained information on “Keeping Up with Energy Conservation Codes in Illinois – Which Code Applies to Your Project – and Why.” The main point of that article was that there are two Energy Conservation Codes in Illinois: Chicago’s and the rest of the State. Since then, there have been some significant changes that design professionals should be aware of when preparing drawings and specifications for municipal review in Illinois.
As of April 22, 2009, Chicago has adopted an amended version of the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for use on both residential and commercial projects in the City. The main differences between the model version and Chicago’s is that it contains provisions for roof reflectance, and the Climate Zone was deliberately changed from Zone 5 to Zone 6, making certain features of the Chicago version more stringent. Although compliance with Chapter 18-13 (as the IECC is referenced in the Chicago Code) is mandatory, enforcement is still reliant on the certification of a Registered Energy Professional (REP), trained by the International Code Council (ICC) at special classes for this purpose. The City maintains on the Department of Buildings (DOB) website a list of everyone who has ever attended this class and received REP status. It is interesting to note that, although the Code has significant changes to many of the previous requirements, the retraining of REP’s was not made mandatory by the City.
Therefore, actual enforcement of the IECC in Chicago is still strictly by the honor system for the purpose of obtaining building permits. There are no Energy plan reviews. The DOB only asks that a statement be placed on the drawings to indicate whether the project is required to comply or not. The only time that an Energy Code review is conducted is if the project is audited by the DOB.
For the rest of Illinois, Public Act 093-0936 (Illinois Energy Conservation Code for Commercial Buildings) has been in effect since August of 2004. The Illinois Energy Conservation Code for Commercial Buildings became effective April 8, 2006, and on October 9, 2007 the Law was revised to mandate the latest published edition, excluding supplements, of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). That means the current Illinois code for energy conservation is the 2009 version of the IECC. The Illinois Energy Efficient Commercial Building Act can be found in Chapter 20 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, Act 3125.
Municipalities and Counties throughout Illinois issuing building permits are therefore required to enforce the 2009 IECC for Privately Funded Commercial Construction Projects, effective after November 28, 2009. Note that per 20 ILCS 3125/45 regarding Home Rule – Chicago is not exempt from regulating energy efficient building standards for commercial buildings that are at least as stringent as the 2009 IECC. Therefore, it is recommended to use 2009 IECC COMcheck (Zone 6) when performing energy compliance analysis, and also conform to the 4/22/09 Chapter 18-13 where it may be more stringent than 2009 IECC. Note that preliminary estimates from U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) suggest the 2009 IECC are at least 18 percent and possibly even 22 percent more energy efficient than the 2006 IECC.
Projects that receive any public funding for design or construction authorized by the General Assembly are also required to comply with a recognized energy efficiency standard in their design and construction. The energy efficiency standard for engineers, architects, and contractors to follow is the 2007 edition of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers Standard (ASHRAE) 90.1. If this project is located in Chicago, it is acceptable to use ASHRAE 90.1 as an alternative means to achieve compliance as applicable to commercial buildings.
In addition, Public Act 196-0778 was signed into law on August 28, 2009 amending the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Act by including Residential buildings for the first time and amending the name of the act to the Energy Efficient Building Act. The new requirements for residential buildings became effective on January 29, 2010. This brings the rest of Illinois into alignment with Chicago with regards to requiring energy efficiency for one and two family detached dwellings and low-rise residential.
Local governments are free to adopt stricter energy conservation Laws for Commercial buildings. However, for Residential buildings, local governments may not adopt or regulate energy conservation standards either less or more stringent than the Illinois Energy Conservation Code. Exceptions which would allow local governments to regulate energy efficient standards in a more stringent manner are municipalities or counties which meet one of the following three provisions (all of which sound like they relate specifically to Chicago):
- A unit of local government that on or before May 15, 2009 adopted or incorporated by reference energy efficient building standards for residential building that are equivalent to or more stringent than the 2006 IECC.
- A unit of local government that on or before May 15, 2009 provided to the Capital Development Board identification of an energy efficient building code or amendment that is equivalent or more stringent than the 2006 IECC.
- A municipality with a population of 1,000,000 or more.
In an effort to assist municipalities to review projects for the Energy Code compliance, training opportunities are being offered this Spring by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity through the ICC. You may visit http://www.iccsafe.org/IL-IECC for dates, times and registration information, but these classes are filling up quickly. These classes are intended to address numerous provisions in the 2009 IECC where the code contains requirements applicable to Residential construction, but that are not regulated specifically by the International Residential Code, which many communities already enforce. They are intended to help plan reviewers or building code officials responsible for plan review identify those areas where plan review will include compliance with the IECC. Needless to say, architects, engineers and specifiers are also (strongly) encouraged to attend.
About the Author:
Christopher E. Chwedyk, CSI, AIA is a licensed architect, Director and Chief Code Consultant of The Code Group at Burnham Nationwide in Chicago. He was previously the principal of Gage-Babcock and Associates; a firm specialized in fire protection engineering. With more than 32 years of experience in the architectural field, Mr. Chwedyk has performed numerous code compliance plan reviews for the City of Chicago and other municipalities. He has a BArch degree from UIC and a Masters of Project Management (MPM) from the Keller Graduate School of Management. An adjunct faculty member of Harper College since 1998, Chris teaches courses on buildng codes and construction drawings.