The Final Review

Burnham’s Blog

The Final Review shares the knowledge of Burnham’s experts in building permit expediting and code compliance. Learn about different jurisdictional building permit requirements, and stay up-to-date on the Americans with Disabilities Act and local accessibility standards. Follow the latest in sustainability, including building energy codes and sustainability design developments.

ADA Requirements: An Accessibility Compliance Overview

Jul 31, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Meeting the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, is essential to any construction project. During our compliance reviews, we encounter violations because the ADA’s accessible design requirements are misunderstood or overlooked. The following is a very general overview of some of the ADA’s requirements.

Read More...

Denver Bans “Slot Home” Design to Prioritize Human-Scale Development

Jul 24, 2018 10:30:00 AM

In May 2018, the Denver City Council voted to ban “slot homes” in an unanimous vote. The residential design is an unusual type of multi-family construction, most often featuring two separate structured situated around a narrow driveway, mews, or pedestrian walkway that forms the “slot.” 

Though the design bears a passing resemblance to courtyard apartment buildings such as the ones prevalent in Chicago, slot homes are constructed around much narrower space than courtyard buildings with entrances cut off from the street. Though they are prevalent throughout the City of Denver, they are most common in the West Colfax, Jefferson Park, Highland, Five Points, Sunnyside, Berkeley, and Cherry Creek neighborhoods. image via CARTA at CU Denver

Read More...

The Need for Affordable Living: Rethinking Public Housing

Jul 19, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Many American cities are facing an affordable housing crisis that affects middle and low income families. Some cities and states are adopting laws and policies to encourage the private development of affordable housing. However, a more comprehensive public housing program, housing funded and administered by a government authority, would also help reduce the current shortage. In this post, we look at a few of the reasons public housing has encountered barriers in the United States and some public housing programs abroad.

Read More...

Cook County Hospital Redevelopment Promises New Life for Storied Building

Jul 17, 2018 10:45:00 AM

Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill’s $1 billion mixed-use redevelopment of the historic former Cook County Hospital building located on Chicago’s Near West Side is poised to create a host of changes for the 102-year-old Beaux Arts building. Prominent in Chicago history, the historic building was listed on four separate occasions on Landmark IllinoisMost Endangered Historic Places list after closing in 2002. 

image by Jeff Dahl - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Read More...

Gender-Neutral Bathrooms in 2018

Jul 11, 2018 10:00:00 AM

In August 2016, we published a blog post highlighting a variety of municipal laws providing for gender-neutral bathrooms. We discussed gender-neutral bathroom requirements in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Seattle, Chicago, and New York City. The post also noted that the ability of some municipalities to bring about changes is limited by state codes. We thought we would review developments regarding gender-neutral restrooms since our 2016 post.

Read More...

Drawdown: Increase Mass Transit Use to Fight Global Warming, Promote Healthier Cities

Jul 2, 2018 12:00:00 PM

According to Project Drawdown, the transport sector is responsible for more than “seven gigatons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually” and is responsible for 14 percent of total global emissions. Transport emissions in individual countries count for up to 35 percent of all emissions, and the sector share continues to grow. 

International shipping, air transportation, and other subsectors are in high demand, and as “a country develops economically, [the] movement of people and good increases.” Without targeted efforts and special focus on transportation emissions in all forms, Drawdown states that “emissions [could] balloon out of control” and threaten any plan to fight global warming. 

Read More...

A Look at Ongoing ADA Title III Litigation: Kohl’s Department Stores

Jun 26, 2018 9:30:00 AM

Kohl’s has been embroiled in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) litigation over the accessibility of its department stores. These cases demonstrate that even though private parties cannot receive a financial award for ADA Title III claims, retailers are still at risk of costly and protracted private party ADA litigation seeking equitable relief. Additionally, the cases also illustrate that even if there is no specific ADA standard for a particular store element, the element could still fall under the ADA’s purview if it is found to be a barrier to accessibility and its removal is readily achievable.

Read More...

FREESPACE: Generosity at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

Jun 21, 2018 10:00:00 AM

The City of Chicago’s own successful architecture biennial is the largest of its kind in the North America and is one of a host of international architecture events occurring around the world. Now in its 16th year, la Biennale di Venezia’s architecture exhibition is currently running from May 24th, 2018 through November 25th, 2018. 

image by Sam Mouat

Read More...

More than Solar: California’s Ambitious Net Zero Energy Building Goals

Jun 12, 2018 10:00:00 AM

There has been a great deal of press about California’s recently adopted mandate that all new homes must have solar power beginning in 2020. What has been missed is that this new rule supports California’s very progressive goal that all new construction attain net zero energy use for residential buildings by 2020 and commercial buildings by 2030.

Read More...

EPA Soon to Propose New Standards for Lead-Based Paint & Dust-Lead Hazards

Jun 5, 2018 10:00:00 AM

 The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) must update its definition of lead-based paint and standard for lead-contaminated dust hazards according to a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) decision filed at the end of 2017. EPA should promulgate proposed rules with updated standards by late June. These new requirements will have important implications for property owners; sellers, landlords, and real estate agents required to comply with the Lead-Residential Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Program; and those who work on most pre-1978 residences and child-occupied facilities. 

Read More...

Drawdown 2018 EcoChallenge Makes Climate Solutions Accessible

May 31, 2018 11:15:00 AM

We’ve been highlighting Project Drawdown’s strategies for fighting climate change since the beginning of year, including green roofs, cement, and the number one solution to global warming, reducing air conditioning refrigerants. The majority of these solutions are focused on a larger scale involving urban planning and global initiatives, but Project Drawdown also has actionable items for individuals and local groups. This year, Project Drawdown and the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) debuted the Drawdown EcoChallenge to spur action on these items.

Read More...

Recent New York State Changes to Increase Energy Efficiency and Storage

May 30, 2018 10:00:00 AM

New York has been at the forefront of state-level work to combat climate change. Recently undertaken initiatives and regulatory changes are part of the state’s aggressive push to increase sustainability and transform the electrical grid. Programs to deploy more energy storage and improve buildings’ energy efficiency are among the 2018 developments in New York State.

Read More...

Key Techniques to Simplify Multi-Site Expansions

May 24, 2018 5:20:00 PM

Multi-site expansions require thorough planning, precise scheduling, and intensive coordinating of many moving parts including initial research on processes for building permit filing and obtaining required licenses, filling for construction permitting in multiple municipalities, coordinating design and construction teams, and creating realistic timelines for all operations. Burnham Nationwide’s multi-site expansion division manages projects across the country and our team has years of experience with high volume, time-sensitive rollouts. 

Read More...

ADA: Understanding Accessible Means of Egress

May 18, 2018 11:13:53 AM

Accessible means of egress are a critical component of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (2010 ADA Standards), the rules implementing the portion of the ADA (Title III) prohibiting places of public accommodation and commercial facilities from discriminating against people with disabilities. To meet the ADA’s requirements for accessible means of egress, it is necessary to also be aware of the applicable standards of the International Building Code (IBC), the International Code Council’s model code that is adopted by many jurisdictions.

Read More...

Understanding California’s New Energy Benchmarking Regulations

May 8, 2018 10:00:00 AM

The California Energy Commission (Commission) recently finalized the rules implementing California ‘s new energy benchmarking program, the first statewide energy benchmarking program for commercial and multi-family residential buildings. Commercial buildings falling under the California Energy Benchmarking Regulations (Regulations) must submit their energy use data by June 1, 2018, and multi-family residential building need to comply the following year.

Read More...

Child-Friendly Urban Planning Creates More Resilient Cities

May 1, 2018 11:30:00 AM

Our recent focus on Project Drawdown illustrates an urgently urbanizing world. The world’s cities are growing exponentially, especially in the “global South”, and the United Nations estimates that by 2030, 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities and one in three people will be living in a city with over half a million people. New populations in the United States (US) are also urbanizing, facing challenges unique to both growing mid-size cities and established urban centers experiencing shifting demographics. 

Read More...

Esperanza Health’s New Brighton Park Location Unites Needed Services with New Design

Apr 24, 2018 10:30:00 AM

In September 2017, the Noble Network Mansueto High School opened its doors in the Southwest Side Chicago neighborhood of Brighton Park. The school is the area’s first Noble charter school and is the anchor for a new development adjacent to the campus that will house community non-profits as well as the Esperanza Health Center. Burnham is proud of have assisted with permitting for Mansueto High School, as well as be a part of the Esperanza Health project team.

Read More...

All Building Uses Benefit from Retrofitting Savings, Positive Environmental Impact

Apr 18, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Buildings account for 32 percent of all energy use and 19 percent of energy-related greenhouse gases, according to Project Drawdown, a number that will increase as the global population urbanizes. Heating and cooling requires energy pulled from either natural gas lines or the electric grid, and buildings of all ages are subject to energy loss through gaps in the building envelope or during operations, such as occupants leaving on lights or electronics.

Read More...

The Overlooked Benefits of District Energy Systems

Apr 12, 2018 1:15:20 PM

District energy systems (DES) for heating and cooling, particularly in dense urban areas, are a key vehicle for increasing sustainability. Although some forms of DES have existed for over a century, worldwide use is growing, and the technologies they employ are evolving. Project Drawdown ranks district heating, a form of DES, as number 27 in its 100 solutions to global warming. While district energy systems are being used throughout the United States, there is much room for growth and more needs to be done to promote their advantages.

Read More...

New York City Adopts Laws to Increase Energy Efficiency

Apr 10, 2018 10:00:00 AM

New York City recently enacted several progressive laws to improve buildings’ energy efficiency. These new requirements are in keeping with the City’s commitment to combat climate change. In June 2017, Mayor de Blasio issued the Climate Action Executive Order stating that New York City would adopt the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and directing city agencies to develop plans for reducing greenhouse gas ((GHG) emissions. According to the Inventory of New York City Greenhouse Gas Emissions, buildings are responsible for 67 percent of the City’s GHG emissions, and therefore, it is critical to adopt measures to increase their energy efficiency.

Read More...