How the New Chicago Air Conditioning Ordinance Affects Condominium Associations

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​A new City of Chicago Ordinance requires that condominium associations and other highrise residential buildings provide relief for residents during extreme heat events.

On June 22, 2022, in response to the heat-related deaths of residents of a senior living facility, the Chicago City Council approved multiple changes to the Chicago Municipal Code that deal with heating and cooling requirements in residential buildings. Although most of the changes are directed at nursing homes, assisted living establishments and similar facilities, some of the changes are applicable to highrise condominium associations.  

What You Need to Know:

  • A new City of Chicago Ordinance requires that condominium associations in highrise buildings provide an air conditioned “cooling room” for use by residents when outdoor temperature and humidity levels are excessive.
  • All new highrise condominium buildings must have cooling and dehumidification equipment to serve all units and all common areas.  

Air Conditioned “Cooling Room” for Residents Required in all Highrise or Large Chicago Condominiums. All condominium buildings located within the City of Chicago that are taller than 80 feet or have over 100 dwelling units must provide a designated “cooling room” for residents when outdoor temperatures and humidity become dangerously high. The cooling room must have cooling and dehumidification equipment capable of maintaining a temperature of no more than 75 degrees and no more than 50 percent relative humidity when the outdoor temperature exceeds 92 degrees. The Ordinance also requires that the air conditioning equipment for the cooling room be permanent, but temporary air conditioning equipment may be used until May 1, 2024.

For condominium associations whose buildings have central air conditioning systems, designating an air conditioned meeting room or other amenity area as the “cooling room” will satisfy the Ordinance’s requirements whenever the building’s HVAC system is in cooling mode. However, buildings with a two-pipe central heating and cooling system (that is, one pipe provides chilled water to, and the other pipe drains chilled water from, fan coil convectors during the summer months, and hot water in the winter months) will face compliance challenges during the early spring months when Chicago outdoor temperatures can fluctuate wildly between chilling cold and oppressive heat during the same day. If heat and humidity are high before the building switches a two-pipe central HVAC system from heating to cooling mode, temperature and humidity in the cooling room may not meet the Ordinance’s requirements. For this reason, associations with a two-pipe central HVAC system may want to consider providing separate cooling and dehumidification equipment for the required cooling room. 

Condominium associations whose buildings do not have a central air conditioning system will have to designate a “cooling room” and provide that cooling room with its own cooling and dehumidification equipment.  

New Construction Condominiums. New condominium buildings that will be taller than 80 feet or will have more than 100 dwelling units must have cooling and dehumidification equipment to serve all units and all common areas. That equipment must be capable of maintaining a temperature of no more than 75 degrees and no more than 50 percent relative humidity in hot weather, and the cooling equipment must be separate from the building’s HVAC system or the building’s HVAC must be capable of switching between heating and cooling within one hour.  

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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