- A wider range of building materials will be allowed for construction,
- New sprinkler system and seismic requirements will enhance safety,
- Cost-effective construction of single-family homes will be incentivized,
- There will be greater opportunities to convert existing basements and attics into livable space,
- Additional flexibility for rehab work will be provided, encouraging the preservation of existing buildings,
- The permitting process will be streamlined,
- Newer methods and approaches to construct green buildings will be allowed, and,
- The city will adopt International Building Code standards, making it easier to follow Chicago-specific code requirements.
Posts tagged with "Building Codes":
Seattle is updating building codes for new skyscrapers after a shocking study revealed that the power and nature of earthquakes in the region pose a significant threat to its tall buildings, one that is worse than experts could have imagined.
The Seattle Times recently reported on results from the M9 Project, a four-year study that aimed to estimate the effects of a magnitude 9 Cascadia earthquake, revealed that the vast, sediment-filled basin under Seattle can magnify the type of ground shaking that puts high-rises at risk of collapse by a factor of two to five, which can trigger stronger surface effects than earthquakes in nearby California.
When rattled by an earthquake, the Times explained, the region's glacial-packed soils, which can extend more than four miles underground, violently shake and convulse, trapping massive seismic waves within the basin that underlies most of the city. Intense shaking like this could last for two minutes, which is four times longer than the average quake. While shorter buildings under 10 stories can withstand the earth's back-and-forth motion, tall buildings tend to whip back and forth under those conditions until they are on the verge of collapse.
As the Times reported, as a result of these findings, Seattle and its neighbor, Bellevue, plan on revising seismic construction standards for new buildings over 240 feet, or over 20 stories tall. These standards will require high-rises to be stronger and more sturdy than their predecessors, without the additional cost.
The plan to revise building codes has also raised concerns regarding Seattle’s older high-rises, many of which were constructed between the 1960s and 1990s, prior to when the dangers of earthquakes were fully understood. Older high-rises have a greater risk of major damage and collapse due to their fracture-prone welded joints, which are supposed to secure the steel frame, as well as their poorly-reinforced concrete supports. Seattle’s renowned Rainer Tower, for example, with its golf-tee-shaped base, was built in the 1970s and undoubtedly has fracture-prone welds. According to the study, buildings like that are up to five times more likely to collapse during an intense earthquake than a modern building.In Seattle, where the seismic threat to skyscrapers is higher than in California because of the city's sedimentary basin, there have still been no attempts to research and pinpoint dangerous high-rises. While the city is taking steps forward by enhancing construction standards, retrofitting old concrete and steel high-rises may be the next necessary step. This may prove costly, but taking time to fix the underlying structure of older buildings could prevent serious levels of damage that can be catastrophic to the community.
By adopting the new energy code, New York will join a group of only six states that meet federally certified commercial and residential energy requirements. In an article outlining the changes to the code, Halfnight said the update "represents a big step forward for the city’s 2050 carbon reduction goals, with projected energy savings compared to the current code clocking in at nearly nine percent for commercial buildings and up to an impressive 32 percent for residential buildings."Honigstock walked AN through the highlights of the code change. She was quick to note how the biggest changes regard a building's air tightness as well as a significant increase in insulation for residential buildings. Subsequently, builders will be required to conduct a blower door test to ensure air leakage does not exceed three air changes per hour. This new air-leakage requirement will be implemented state-wide, encompassing New York City. The new insulation requirements apply across the state but are particularly stringent in New York City, where the code is set to demand doubling of insulation for residential buildings.
"We don't think the industry is ready," said Honigstock, who noted that this was a big change considering that no testing is currently required. Honigstock also pointed out that the biggest difference for contractors will be that this testing would most likely be done during construction—a problem when you have open walls. Halfnight added how the test will now mean that penetration through the building envelope, such as air-conditioning units for example, will have to be carefully considered.Keeping on the theme of air tightness, but moving on to changes in commercial code, open combustion fuel-burning appliances can no longer be housed inside of a building's thermal envelope. As Honigstock specified, this was due to the fact that open combustion could greatly affect the quality of breathable air within an envelope. Back to residential code: new dwellings must be “solar ready” with roof space allocated for panels. In an email to AN, Halfnight outlined how the requirement will only impact new detached one- and two-family dwellings and multiple single-family dwellings (townhouses) that have at least 600 square feet of roof space and a desirable solar exposure. For houses that fall under this criteria, a "solar-ready" area of at least 200 square feet (exclusive of fire code setbacks) is mandated. This area will be halved for townhouses under four stories or below or equal to 2,000 square feet. Construction documents must also display "solar-ready" zones along with the pathways for plumbing and electrical infrastructure. Rounding off the implications of these changes, Honigstock was eager to iterate that the new code means that architects, engineers, contractors and builders will have to "communicate more and work closer together" to ensure that "projects move along quicker." Read up more on the new code here.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel floats ordinance to fast-track transit-oriented development, reduce parking minimums
• TOD incentives will be available within an expanded radius from a transit station: up to 1,320 feet (1/4 mile) or 2,640 feet (1/2 mile) on a Pedestrian-designated street. • A 100 percent reduction from residential parking requirements if replaced with alternative transportation options, such as a car sharing station on site, or bike parking. • A streamlined process for accessing the minimum lot area, floor area ratio (FAR), and building height incentives by allowing developers to secure these benefits through an Administrative Adjustment from the Zoning Administrator, as opposed to a zoning map amendment by City Council under current law. • For projects that trigger the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO), an additional 0.25 FAR increase (to 3.75) if the development includes half of any required affordable housing units on site, plus an additional 0.25 FAR increase (to 4.0) if the development includes all required affordable housing units on site.