A New LEED Credit for Bird-Friendly Buildings

Phil Roeder/CC BY 2.0

Buildings that save on energy also can kill lots of birds. As many as 1 billion birds die every year from collisions with buildings in the United States. So birds and birders alike may be happy to know that LEED, the U.S. Green Building Council program, is now offering credits to builders for bird-friendly designs.

Credits are how the LEED program scores buildings. The new program, for the birds, will give credits to buildings that comply with three requirements: One for the facade, one for interior lights and one for the exterior, according to The New York Times' Green blog. There also has to be a post-construction monitoring program.

"Because birds do not perceive conventionally formulated glass as a solid barrier, they fly into it," the U.S. Green Building Council says. "They may mistake reflections as continuous space and be attracted to trees or other objects in, or visible through, a glassed-in space."

This change is due to a campaign by the American Bird Conservancy and the Bird-Safe Glass Foundation (really), building on feathered-friend guidelines already created for cities like San Francisco and Chicago. LEED is a top green design program in the U.S., and about 42,000 commercial buildings are certified.

For now, the bird credits are just in the testing phase, under LEED's Pilot Credit Library, according to the American Bird Conservancy. The credits could become permanent if they're deemed effective.

"The credit emphasizes creating 'visual noise,' that birds can perceive and thereby avoid hitting glass," conservancy reps say. "This means modifying glass reflectivity, color (including UV), texture, or opacity."

You can read more about the requirements on a LEED page about the Bird Collision Deterrence credit.

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Are LEED Certified Buildings Bird Killing Machines? In A Word, No

Tags: Birds | Buildings | Designers