The fledgling market for bird-safe glass

Birds colliding with glass on building facades is one of the leading causes of avian mortality across the globe, however despite this fact it’s an issue that has often flown under the radar in the UK. Here Leo Pyrah of Pilkington discusses how specifying the right glazing can minimise this problem

olliding with glass doors and windows, while embarrassing, rarely causes people lasting harm. Unfortunately it’s a rather different story for birds, which often fly headlong into glazing in residential and commercial buildings because they simply don’t realise it’s there.

C Given that these collisions kill millions of birds each year,

it’s clear that avian protection is a challenging – but vital – conservation issue for architects and specifiers to address. As glass continues to make up more and more of the external building envelope, it is highly likely that the number of birds affected by this issue will increase in the years ahead. Taking a closer look at the glazing specified would therefore be crucial in tackling the deadly impact buildings have on avian populations.

Bird safety: A growing regulatory issue The problem of birds striking buildings is, thankfully, beginning to attract the proper level of attention in our increasingly ethically conscious society.

Building Regulations and guidelines focused on bird-protection for new builds and major renovation projects have become increasingly common, particularly across the US and Canada, where it is estimated that up to 600 million birds a year die from colliding with windows.

The US Congress recently reintroduced the Bird-Safe Buildings Act (2017), which stipulates, among other things, that at least 90 per cent of the exposed facade material on new public buildings (up to 40 ft – the primary bird-collision zone) should either be made up of glass employing bird-safe elements, or not be made of glass at all.

Despite the UK lagging behind from a regulatory perspective, it’s highly likely that similar regulations will begin to make their way across the Atlantic in the near future, meaning it’s worth being prepared. Indeed, recent revisions to Building Standard 8560 –

ADF MAY 2019

Bird-safe Building Regulations – and whether major commercial developments adhere to them – are becoming an increasingly hot topic in the media

governing the design of buildings incorporating safe work at height – specifically reference bird protection measures as a design factor; is this an indicator of events to come?

Bird-friendly glass is taking flight

The main reason that birds fly into windows is that they will often fly towards objects reflected in the glass – unaware that what they see is merely a reflection.


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