SAN FRANCISCO & NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--New unprotected glass-laden building projects violate both the spirit and the letter of the Migratory Bird Act and other Wildlife Conservation Laws, commented The Zoological Lighting Institute Executive Director James Karl Fischer. Unless treated appropriately (see below), architectural glass is a well-known killer of endangered and non-endangered birds. The Zoological Lighting Institute (www.zoolighting.org) and its 'Save a Billion Birds!' Campaign (www.saveabillionbirds.org) seeks local bans of bird-killing glass for all new construction as well as remediation of existing glass.
The Migratory Bird Act makes it a federal crime to kill, or 'take' even a single endangered or threatened bird. Researchers estimate that the annual number of birds killed by architectural glass to surpass a billion individual deaths in the United States alone. Many architectural design strategies that do not use transparent and reflective glass provide optimal daylighting, and have been shown to be less costly both in terms of initial and operating expenses. Strategies to modify glass with films, coatings and ceramic fritting are also available, though these add slightly to the overall expense in an attempt to maintain the current aesthetic preference for glass. However, as The Zoological Lighting Institute points out, the economic, environmental and ethical costs of these bird ‘takes’ far outweigh expenses in architecture and the construction industry. Despite many studies highlighting the challenges of bird-killing glass for communities, the material remains in widespread use. Legislation, The Zoological Lighting Institute argues, is appropriate if challenging.
"Although to my knowledge no one in the United States has initiated a legal case against a bird-killing building or the specification of transparent or reflective glazing by an architect yet", commented Dr. Fischer, "it is difficult to imagine that the continued use of a material known to kill birds on such a vast scale would find favor in the courts. How many birds, for goodness sake, is it ok to kill without just cause? I would also imagine that once informed, a truly professional architect would not wait for such a ruling to pursue a more ethical and sustainable approach to architectural design." Ending on an serious note, Dr. Fischer raised the prospect that environmental groups could easily address this issue antagonistically through the law if matters did not change soon. "It is vital to work together to protect biodiversity and the migratory animals that nations from South America to Canada depend upon. This is what we are hoping for. The Court of Ontario has ruled in the past that the direct cause of bird deaths in collisions is the glass. We think that this ruling ought to make architects stand up and take notice, and for their own sakes start to look at other ways of producing properly daily buildings.”
Many other 'bird-friendly' choices are available to the architect beyond glass facades, such as composite facades, screens, shutters and translucent surfaces. Fritted ceramic coatings on the exterior surface of glass and specialized products that reflect ultra-violet light are also available. Several prominent conservation groups, such as The American Bird Conservancy, FLAP, USGBC and Audubon, have published measures that building owners (including the general public) could take to make their existing windows more amenable to bird life. In the past few years, cities such as San Francisco, San Jose and Toronto have passed bird-friendly design guidelines, but none go so far as to the complete elimination of bird-killing glass altogether. Save a Billion Birds!™ looks to meet the mandate of its name, one bird at a time, by equating unprotected glass to asbestos and seeing it banned altogether.
For more information on concerns related to glass construction, concerned citizens in the United States or beyond its borders may contact Dr. James Karl Fischer (firstname.lastname@example.org) of The Zoological Lighting Institute, or the Save a Billion Birds! Campaign (email@example.com) directly. The Zoological Lighting Institute www.zoolighting.org is dedicated to supporting Photobiology and Photo-ecology research, to support animal welfare and wildlife conservation initiatives.