Chicago receives first paperless green building permit application

October 24, 2006 |

Local firm Harley Ellis Devereaux was the first to submit a “paperless” application for a green building permit via Chicago’s recently introduced pilot program for electronic plan review and permit filing. One of the City’s many green initiatives, the electronic filing system is expected to eliminate the physical transporting and filing of hardcopy plans and permit applications, and expediting the permit issuance process.

The electronic review process involves uploading files to the City’s plan review website. There, projects are assigned specific electronic folders, with sub-folders for drawings, specifications, applications and corrections. This centralized location allows all parties--from architects to reviewers--access to the most current project information. In addition, the site provides online informational assistance as well as links to useful sites such as the City of Chicago Building Code. Access for downloading required applications along with general information describing requirements for submittals is also available.

A “green” building permit is available for projects that incorporate sustainable design or environmental/green initiatives, such as Harley Ellis Devereaux’s Sankofa House project, which represents the first project to be electronically submitted for green permit consideration. Developed by Interfaith Housing Development Corporation of Chicago in partnership with Sankofa Safe Child Initiative, the five-story, 58-unit residential building will serve kinship families and young adults and, when completed, will include maximization of solar power, rain gardens, vegetated roof areas, high efficiency mechanicals and other green initiatives.

Susan F. King, AIA, LEED AP, associate, Harley Ellis Devereaux, says of the recent meeting with the City on the Sankofa House project, “It did feel strange to attend a permit intake meeting without a huge roll of drawings. But it also felt progressive at the same time. The idea of a paperless process for permitting is in keeping with the other green initiatives coming out of City Hall, so in some ways this should not be a surprise to anyone. With all of the green initiatives in Chicago, it makes all the sense in the world that this should be happening. We are thrilled to be one of the projects that gets to test this new, streamlined process.”

Charlene Andreas, RA, LEED AP, Harley Ellis Devereaux, and Sankofa House project architect, says, “The electronic plan review saved everyone time and the hassle of reviewing, signing and stamping multiple sets of drawings--a big plus for all parties involved in the building permit process.”

The electronic plan review pilot program is scheduled to run through the end of the year, at which time the City will evaluate the process and make additional recommendations.

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