San Francisco for the Birds

Advocates claim that hundreds of millions of birds die annually as a result of flying into windows or walls in the U.S., and have been moving to encourage San Francisco to begin a nationwide trend of bird-friendly buildings. Not surprisingly, the city has agreed.

A Global Issue

This past Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved a measure requiring new buildings throughout the city to use “bird safe” standards, such as adorning windows with dots or other designs, or shielding the glass with screen or various other architectural devices.

“It’s a global problem,” explained Christine Sheppard, manager of the bird collisions campaign of the American Bird Conservancy. “Everywhere you find glass, you will find dead birds. One of the reasons that people don’t recognize the problem is that it is so widely distributed. There are some buildings that kill thousands of birds a year.”

But is it Really Environmentally Friendly?

The ordinance has sparked some controversy, however, as some claim the changes to windows may effect business, customer satisfaction and even the environment.

Margie O’Driscoll of the American Institute of Architects’ San Francisco chapter explained: “For people who want a great view, and pay premium for a great view, there’s going to be some serious frustration.” She added that placing partially-opaque material inside the glass can result in murkier lighting within the building, thus increasing energy use.

AnMarie Rodgers and Erika Lovejoy, environmental and legislative planners in SF, explained that the measure will not have such a dramatic effect on buildings and building costs. They explained that the ordinance will apply to “new construction in certain areas considered near bird habitats.”

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