Blue bird

Birds: Proposed Laws Target Building Design

  March 7, 2019

By Dan Hounsell

Every institutional and commercial facility has experiences with birds. Some facility managers must deal with the threat of disease from birds, while others have to contend with collisions between buildings and birds. In the case of high-rise buildings, collisions rarely end well for the birds. Now, two proposed laws seek to improve the situation.

Legislation introduced by Ald. Brian Hopkins and reintroduced by Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., seeks to prevent collisions by encouraging and even mandating bird-friendly design, according to The Chicago Tribune. Proponents say the measures won’t add significantly to construction costs. But the Chicago proposal, the Bird Friendly Design ordinance, could face opposition from real estate developers who rely on glass walls and panoramic views to help sell or rent commercial and residential space.

The Chicago legislation would apply to large new construction and renovated buildings that require permits. One measure would mandate that at least 95 percent of a building’s facade, from the ground to a height of 36 feet, not be sheathed in glass or have bird-safe glass with etching, frosting or mounted elements like screens.

Another item in the proposed ordinance would require that nonessential exterior lighting be automatically shut off between 11 p.m. and sunrise. Interior landscaping should “always” be placed behind bird-friendly exterior glass, the proposal says.

Quigley’s legislation, the Bird-Safe Buildings Act, would apply to public buildings constructed, significantly renovated or bought by the U.S. General Services Administration, the federal government’s landlord.

Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions and



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