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6 COMMENT


While efforts to fix this have been made by adding visible shapes or decoration (such as a printed dot pattern) to windows in order to alert birds, this can naturally interfere with glazing’s effectiveness as a window, and a building’s wider aesthetic appeal. Specialised bird-friendly glass fixes this issue by using a ultra-violet (UV) enhanced patterned coating to break up the reflectivity of the glass surface. Because many birds see the world through UV rays of varying wavelengths – virtually invisible to the human eye – the coating creates a barrier for birds to avoid, with limited effect on the window’s visibility for humans. In terms of the pattern itself, research has found that birds will not fly through spaces less than two inches high and four inches wide. This led to the creation of the popular ‘2x4 rule’ where the patterns applied to the glass are spaced no wider than these dimensions, often resembling a spider’s web.


Some bird-safe glazing products on the market, while effective, may still reduce the transmission of natural light through glass and potentially affect views from inside the building – obviously a key consideration for architects and specifiers to bear in mind for building users. However, these effects are being minimised as the fledgling bird-safe glass market takes flight and the technology continues to advance. We’re already seeing the trade-off between specifying bird-friendly glass and overall glazing functionality lessen, as bird-safe coatings are increasingly used alongside other glazing technologies (such as solar control), for a multi-functional solution that combines the best of both worlds.


WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


Opportunities for architects


Making buildings safer for our avian friends – for example by designing windows in recesses to block light and reflections – is critically important. However, it could also previously be costly, difficult, and require a degree of compromise. This combined with a lack of awareness and UK-applicable Building Regulations, means that bird-friendly buildings have traditionally been a rarity in this country. However, bird-safe Building Regulations – and whether major commercial developments adhere to them – are becoming an increasingly hot topic in the media. For example, conservation groups branded the Minnesota Vikings’ glass-plated stadium a ‘death trap’ for birds in 2017, which made national news headlines both in the US and abroad. Due to this, it is likely that environmentally conscious customers may begin to ask about how their development can be made more bird-friendly ahead of time.


As the technology behind bird-friendly glazing products continues to advance, we’re likely to see it used increasingly frequently throughout the built environment.


This in turn presents a tremendous opportunity for architects to specify bird-friendly glass as a simple, cost-efficient means of making buildings more environmentally friendly without impacting building aesthetics, performance, and overall end-user experience.


Leo Pyrah is product manager at Pilkington UK ADF MAY 2019


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