Construction Law

Common Environment Laws That Impact Construction Projects in Chicago featured image

Common Environment Laws That Impact Construction Projects in Chicago

Chicago is in the middle of a restoration where new resources are being built and areas in need of refurbishment are having a lot of work done. This means that there is construction happening across the city on a regular basis. Although new construction is focused on making the city a better place to live, a lot of the current efforts are focused on repairing some of the damage that has been done by previous construction projects. Environmental regulations play an important part in the planning and management of construction projects across the city. In this article, a Chicago construction law firm discusses common environmental laws that impact construction projects in Chicago.

Air Pollution

Air quality is a major concern in cities the size of Chicago. Vehicles are common contributors to poor air quality, but much of the contaminants come from buildings and construction projects. Regulations on air quality are pushing construction companies to find ways of reducing the urban heating effect as well as finding ways to keep plant life within the city. Both of these initiatives, along with reducing pollution, can improve air quality substantially. 

The urban heating effect occurs when many buildings are packed into the city and the result is a significant increase in ambient heat. Buildings generate heat on their own, and having many hard surfaces means that they will absorb heat from the sun and radiate it back into the air creating significant spikes in temperature. Construction companies are looking for ways to reduce this by dissipating heat in different ways.

One of the ways they are solving these problems at the same time is including more plant life in construction projects. By introducing trees and other plants into construction projects, there is less area exposed to the sun to absorb heat and radiate back into the environment. At the same time, there is more space for plant life to absorb toxins from the air and make it more breathable. There are incentive programs, both local and federal, that make it worth the time for construction companies to consider changes like this to their projects.

Water Resources

Having a source of usable water is critical to life in the city. There are many ways that water sources can be polluted, which is why Chicago is focusing on trying to revive many of its waterways. To do this, it is cracking down on companies that produce a lot of contaminants that end up in waterways. The city has placed limits on dumping and other activities that directly contribute to water pollution.

In construction, construction companies have to be more diligent about how they interact with the city’s water systems. Construction sites also have to be better maintained so that there is no chance of spills and leaking contaminants into water sources. The focus on improving water quality also impacts the permitting process. City permit offices are more focused on making sure that construction plans will not cause problems for water quality, which makes it take longer for plans to be reviewed.

Land Usage

Land usage also plays an important part in how the city is rebuilding itself. The city is taking greater care over zoning and permitting regulations for specific parts of the city. This is to protect its natural resources and ensure that buildings that can damage these resources are not allowed near them anymore. 

The city is also paying more attention to rezoning areas that need redevelopment. By doing so, it enables new construction bringing attention to parts of the city that have been neglected for a long time. The result is widespread improvement across the city while drawing companies to areas that need the most help. If you are interested in a piece of land that has specific land use restrictions, consider discussing your case with Chicago construction lawyers for further guidance.


Alongside land usage changes, the city is focusing more on cleanup efforts. To help with the cleanup effort, regulations have changed to focus on prevention so that you can cut off widespread problems at the source. There are a number of recycling incentives and use restrictions placed on specific items, such as tires. That way, there are fewer and fewer of these items being used in ways that will contribute to pollution.

Like many other cities, you will need specific permits for dealing with different types of waste. Depending on what your project will include, you can get permits for hazardous waste, recycling, and solid wastes. If your company is able to get these permits, it may be able to participate in one of several programs designed to help with the cleanup effort across the city.

One cleanup issue that is proven to be a problem for construction programs is underground tank cleanup. In the past, more buildings had underground tanks for storage of chemicals and other potentially dangerous resources. New construction sites may experience issues with this as many tanks are still underground and their contents are unknown. Your construction company will have to be careful to avoid rupturing any tanks left on property or under nearby properties. Furthermore, your company can help with the cleanup and by removing tanks that are found according to approved guidelines and regulations.

Site Remediation

There are places across Chicago where construction companies will not be able to build a structure because of the condition of the area. Chicago is offering a site remediation program where your construction company can receive incentives for cleaning up sites and putting them to use. The city can also help with this if the situation calls for it. Your company may be able to take advantage of this program to gain access to parts of the city that other construction companies otherwise stay away from.

Chicago’s steady revitalization will depend largely on the efforts of construction companies. Your company can find a lot of success in helping Chicago rebuild if your company can comply with the new environmental regulations and initiatives. If you have questions about environmental regulations in Chicago, contact a Chicago contractor attorney from Cotney Attorneys & Consultants.

If you would like to speak with a Chicago contractor attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.