In this article, I will guide you through Chicago’s new cooling ordinance.
I will discuss how and why this ordinance was enacted:
- Chicago is a tenant-friendly city
- What does Chicago's Cooling Ordinance do?
- Which buildings are subject to this ordinance?
- What type of aircon is required?
- Will you need a permit?
- Issues with this ordinance
- How this new Chicago ordinance helps Chicagoans better adapt to climate change
So let's get started. First I'll show you how Chicago is tenant-friendly.
Chicago is a tenant-friendly city
The rental market is growing along with its fees and monthly rents.
Rising rental fees have also been a concern the past two years as inflation also rose along with the pandemic, thus, making it more difficult for individuals to find a much cheaper place to stay in for the meantime.
On the brighter side, there are some cities that are not only ideal to move into and invest in due to their entertainment scene and the beauty of their community but might as well consider their tenant-friendly environment.
That includes Chicago.
The Windy City has well-established rules in security deposits and large tenant markets.
Illinois, for instance, does not have a cap on the amount of security deposit a landlord may want, and the notice period to vacate is 10 days in the event of a lease breach.
Chicago is renowned as a tenant-friendly city so the government introduced new legislation to further bolster this reputation.
And one of the most important new city legislations in 2022 is the Cooling Ordinance.
Chicago's "Cooling Ordinance"
What does it do?
The Chicago City Council passed a law mandating the installation of air conditioning in indoor common gathering spaces and the availability of these spaces to building residents as cooling centers when the outdoor heat index rises above 80°F in June 2022.
This law applies to new and existing residential buildings.
The Cooling Ordinance modifies the cooling requirements for a select group of residential structures, which includes high-rises that are owned and operated by cooperative housing groups, condominiums, and community associations that satisfy the building standards.
It was passed in the wake of a heatwave in May 2022 that claimed the lives of three inhabitants of a senior care facility in Chicago.
And it now aims to "modernize the city's heating and cooling ordinance and better account for extreme weather events."
Which buildings are subject to this ordinance?
Buildings subject to this ordinance would be residential buildings in Chicago that are:
Are over 80 feet in height (high-rise buildings) or
Have more than 100 residential units or
Are operated as “housing for older persons” under the Federal Fair Housing Act (usually, housing primarily intended for those 55 years of age or older)
Licensed facilities, adult family care centers, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities
They include condominiums and mixed-use buildings.
For non-senior housing buildings, air conditioning is required in at least one “indoor common gathering space.” - accessible to each resident of the building free of charge. And for senior housing, there must be conditioning in all “indoor common gathering spaces.”
What type of aircon equipment is required?
Equipment that can provide cooling and dehumidification, also known as "air conditioning," is required under the law.
Evaporative cooling systems and fans alone cannot provide this need.
Building owners must use air conditioning either independent of heating equipment or capable of being switched from heating to cooling mode within one hour.
You should use supplemental cooling equipment if your building currently relies on equipment.
It must have the technical capacity to maintain an indoor temperature of 75ºF and 50 percent relative humidity at a point 3 feet above the floor when the outdoor temperature is 92ºF and the mean coincident wet bulb temperature is 75ºF.
Temporary or portable air conditioners can be utilized to fulfill this requirement up to April 30, 2024.
Permanent equipment that complies with this law should be installed by May 1, 2024.
Consult with your local architect, engineer, or experienced contractor to determine the best type and size of equipment for your building.
Will you need a permit to install air conditioning in your property?
You need a permit from the Department of Buildings to install new permanent air conditioning equipment.
Any individual or organization offering to operate under contract with a building owner to help with complying with this Cooling Ordinance is required to hold a license from the City of Chicago.
The contractor should have a general contractor license since the City of Chicago does not have a specialty license for HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) services.
Electrical work must be performed by a City of Chicago-licensed electrical contractor.
But with all the good intentions of this ordinance, there are some prevailing issues.
Issues with this Ordinance
Not enough discussion with building managers and landlords
One of the issues of the implementation of this ordinance is the inadequacy of discussion and conversation between the building managers and landlords involved.
Some building managers are confused and do not entirely get the point of this implementation.
A two-year deadline might not be enough for the permanent cooling systems
Despite the twenty-four-month timeline, it may not be enough to follow the said ordinance.
It will be very costly and hard on the building owners.
The entire planet is still in the remnants of the pandemic and is still recovering.
The implementation of this new ordinance would mean the purchase of the required AC units, an additional financial burden.
Challenging for buildings with two-pipe systems
Many buildings in Chicago are not designed to easily provide either heat or aircon on specific dates.
It takes time for a two-pipe central heating and cooling system to switch from heating to cooling or cooling to heating because that system cannot simultaneously provide heating and cooling.
During the transition period between the heating and cooling seasons (i.e., Spring and Fall), temperatures will vary greatly from day to day or even hour to hour, such that the building requires heat in the morning and cooling in the afternoon.
So the permanent cooling space required by the new ordinance cannot be easily met by building owners.
Rather, realty experts recommend that these types of buildings should have a separate air conditioning system for a designated “cooling space” to ensure compliance with the Cooling Ordinance if there are wide swings in temperature in Spring and Fall.
How this new Chicago ordinance helps Chicagoans better adapt to climate change
With this ordinance, Chicagoans can be protected from the worst effects of climate change - extreme heat. It is one of the ways Chicago copes with the safety implications of climate change.
Do you want to assess your property's capacity to comply with this new Cooling Ordinance? Get a free market analysis report here!