House Passes Bird-Safe Buildings Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 919 – Bird-Safe Buildings Act yesterday as part of the Invest in America Act. This bipartisan bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), requires that public buildings being constructed, acquired or altered significantly by the General Services Administration incorporate bird-safe building materials and design features. Quigley first introduced this bill in 2010.

“In a time when wildlife faces unprecedented, human-driven challenges, we have an obligation to be responsible members of our environment and do what we can to mitigate our impacts on those we share this planet with,” says Quigley. “That can start with protecting wildlife from deadly collisions with our buildings.”

The Bird-Safe Buildings Act requires:

  • At least 90% of the exposed façade material from ground level to 40 feet shall not be composed of glass or shall be composed of glass employing:
  • Elements that preclude bird collisions without completely obscuring vision;
  • Ultraviolet (UV) patterned glass that contains UV-reflective or contrasting patterns that are visible to birds;
  • Patterns on glass designed in accordance with a rule that restricts horizontal spaces to less than 2 inches high and vertical spaces to less than 4 inches wide;
  • Opaque, etched, stained, frosted or translucent glass; or
  • Any combination of the methods described.
  • At least 60% of the exposed façade material above 40 feet shall meet such modified glass standard;
  • There shall not be any transparent passageways or corners;
  • All glass adjacent to atria or courtyards containing water features, plants and other materials attractive to birds shall meet the standard; and
  • Outside lighting shall be appropriately shielded and minimized subject to security and other mission related requirements.

The bill requires that GSA ensure that actual bird mortality is monitored at each public building and that GSA reduce exterior building and site lighting for each public building, where practicable and consistent with the requirements for outside lighting.

The bill exempts from these requirements buildings and sites listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the White House and its grounds, the Supreme Court building and its grounds, and the U.S. Capitol and its related buildings and grounds.

“In 2008, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) founded what is still the only national-level program dedicated to reducing the billion bird deaths that occur annually from collisions with glass in the U.S.,” says Christine Sheppard, director of ABC’s Glass Collisions Program. “Since then, more than 20 states, counties, and municipalities have passed bird-friendly legislation. However, the H.R. 919 is a game-changer. The recognition of this issue at the federal level is a momentous achievement because if passed by the Senate and put into law, it will set an example for the entire U.S.”

The bill will soon be introduced in the U.S. Senate.

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4 Responses to House Passes Bird-Safe Buildings Act

  1. We all saw this coming. This is a great step forward. Many glass products available to reduce bird strikes.

  2. This is a major step forward in the promotion of glazing solutions that mitigate bird collisions. The key elements of this bill are based on proven best practices … 2×4 rule, risk collision areas, vision glass with bird safe markers, etc.. Kudos to the House!

  3. When seeking bird-friendly solutions, architects need to look for glass that exceeds the American Bird Conservancy’s minimum standard for effective bird collision deterrent materials.

  4. ROBERT MAURER says:

    As a practicing architect of +35 years, designing multilevel commercial, retail & industrial buildings, I have never encountered such bird deaths colliding with building glass. I am all for environmental & sustainable design that is cost-effective and energy efficient, but regulating building design to mitigate unsubstantiated bird deaths proclaimed by a biased organization is wrong. Like LEED requirements for sustainable design which are by choice, “Bird Safe Buildings” need to be by choice as well.

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