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Why Property Owners are Making CRE “For the Birds”

 March 23, 2022 |  Maintenance, CRE News, Management |  real estate trends, safety, exterior maintenance, building renovation, office space, hotel, apartment, condo

Glass-clad buildings are a staple in commercial real estate. On a sunny day, glass buildings really outshine their older concrete neighbors. But buildings such as these can pose a hazard to the wildlife around them.

Birds and Buildings
You may have heard the unmistakable thud of a bird flying into your office window. Since they don’t have a real concept of glass, close to a billion birds are injured in the U.S. each year from colliding with windows.They haven’t adapted visual cues to know where glass is, and the buildings are essentially camouflaged in front of them. The staggering number of bird deaths has caused some architects to try and incorporate a more avian-friendly approach.

Bird Safety Laws
As the awareness of bird collisions has grown, it’s caused some cities to adopt new legislation. In 2019, New York passed a law that requires builds over 75 feet to use patterned glass, which helps make the building more visible to birds who are likely to fly into it. Mountain View, California has also passed a rule for buildings up to 60 feet to feature an almost all bird-friendly facade. Many other cities have followed suit in an effort to keep birds flying safe.

Designing for Flight
So what does a more bird-friendly building look like? For newer builds, it may include breaking up tall windows with concrete or metal designs. They’re both visually appealing and make birds’ flight paths safer. You can also use “fritting,” a technique that incorporates ceramic designs into the windows to make them more visible. Nets, screens, and shades are cheaper options, but they may not look the best. Some designers have tried mirrored glass to make the area around more visible, yet these tend to show little improvement in reducing bird collisions. For night migrations, illuminating a building with spotlights will give birds a warning to alter their course.

Why Bother with Birds?
It may seem a bit over the top to accommodate one animal. However, birds do a lot for our environment and it’s important that we keep as many around as we can. Birds help control the populations of pests and other insects that destroy and annoy. They also help with spreading seeds and keeping many plant varieties alive. Birds are even good for the economy! Bird watching is a multi-billion dollar ecotourism industry. As you can see, there are many things birds play a crucial role in.

More to be Done
Although lawmakers and CRE owners are becoming more aware of this issue, there’s still some work to be done. Glass has risen in popularity, and it has coincided with the rise in bird deaths. Every building from two-story properties to skyscrapers can be dangerous to birds as they tend to fly at tree level and above. Using a facade on your building to break up big patches of glass won’t detract from your property’s curb appeal and it’ll help the local wildlife. More legislation could be passed to require buildings to be safer for birds, but laws like this need backing.

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