Birds & Building GreenThe emergence of a recent generation of sustainable or 'high performance' buildings suggests that a transformation is underway in the real estate and construction industry. Advancements in building science, materials and technology, and the emerging emphasis on integration of complex systems in design have produced buildings that display unprecedented levels of environmental responsibility and functionality. The green building movement has enabled vast improvements in energy and resource efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and human comfort and health, all while maintaining an emphasis on the economic bottom line.
Advocating bird-safety in buildings is integral to the green building movement. In many regards, the strategies for reducing bird-collisions complement other sustainable site and building objectives.
Common concerns include light pollution avoidance, reduced disturbance to site and natural systems, and lowered energy use. Realistically, however, there may be trade-offs or compromises. For example, expansive glazing used to augment views, daylight, natural ventilation, and, in some cases, save energy by capturing solar gain may lead to increased bird kills.
Current energy saving low-emissivity glass, or glazing with low solar heat gain coefficients often contribute to increased reflectivity. Encouraging visual access to a building's surrounding landscape while it may function to connect people with nature can also lead to the disorientation of birds. Ill-sited native or naturalized vegetation may create magnets for birds, luring them into harmís way. The desire to bring nature and natural processes into buildings needs to be balanced with knowledge of potential liabilities. Unless carefully considered, greening efforts may actually contribute to the loss of the very creatures people seek to protect