Chicago's speedy permitting program gets speedier

February 26, 2007 |

Chicago's highly-successful streamlined permitting program for green projects recently got a speed boost when the city added a paperless application option.

Under the program, the city's buildings department will grant building permits within six weeks for projects that are designed to Energy Star or LEED standards or better—a full two months faster than the average permit application process (BD+C, November 2005, p. 28).

Going paperless further expedites the application process by eliminating the physical transporting and filing of hardcopy plans and permit applications.

The local office of Southfield, Mich.-based Harley Ellis Devereaux was the first firm to utilize the electronic green permit application process. HED designers recently submitted an application for the Sankofa House project, a 58-unit residential building developed by Interfaith Housing Development Corp., Chicago, in partnership with the Sankofa Safe Child Initiative. The five-story structure will have solar and wind power, rain gardens, vegetated roof areas, and high-efficiency mechanical systems.

“The electronic plan review saved everyone time and the hassle of reviewing, signing, and stamping multiple sets of drawings,” said Charlene Andreas, RA, LEED AP, project architect with HED on the Sankofa House project. “It was a big plus for all parties involved in the building permit process.”

The electronic review process involves uploading files to the city's plan review Web site. 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 Web site provides online informational assistance as well as links to useful sites such as the city's building code.

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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