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CHICAGO- The City of Chicago recently introduced a “paperless” program for electronic plan review and permit filing. Firms can now submit applications for a green building permit via the pilot program, which involves uploading files to the City’s plan review website.

A green building permit applies to projects incorporating sustainable design or green initiatives. The city’s new system is expected to eliminate the need to physically transport and file hardcopy plans and permit applications.

On the city’s plan review website, projects are assigned specific electronic folders. Required applications, as well as general information describing requirements for submittals, are available for download. The centralized location of drawings, plans, specifications, applications and corrections, allows access to the most current project information for architects and reviewers. The website also provides links to the City of Chicago Building Code.

Planning and architectural firm Harley Ellis Devereaux recently became the first to submit this paperless application. The firm used the process for its Sankofa House project, a 58-unit apartment building developed North Lawndale neighborhood in conjunction with Interfaith Housing Development Corporation of Chicago, and the Sankofa Safe Child Initiative. When completed, the building will include solar power, rain gardens, high efficiency mechanicals and other green initiatives.

Susan F. King with Harley Ellis said it felt 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.”

The project’s architect, Charlene Andreas, said the electronic plan review saved everyone time and the hassle of reviewing, signing and stamping multiple sets of drawings. “This is a big plus for all parties involved in the building permit process,” she says. The pilot program is scheduled to run through the end of the year. The city then plans on evaluating the process to make additional recommendations.

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