DC Council Proposes Bill to Require Bird-Safe Glass and Glazing in New Buildings

Washington, D.C., Council members have submitted new legislation to help mitigate what they call the unnecessary deaths of numerous birds in the city. On March 14, Mary Cheh, D.C. council member, along with other members, introduced the “Migratory Local Wildlife Protection Act of 2022” to Nyasha Smith, secretary for the Council of the District of Columbia.

The legislation will require building permits for new construction or substantial improvements issued after January 1, 2023, to ensure the facade of the exterior wall envelope and exterior fenestration largely use bird-friendly materials. According to the document, “substantial improvement” is defined as any repair, alteration, addition or improvement of a building or structure, of which the cost equals or exceeds 50% of the market value before the improvement starts.

The bill will also prescribe other building elements that must be constructed using bird-friendly materials after January 1, 2023 and require that bird hazard installations use bird-friendly materials; ensure the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, along with the Department of Energy and Environment issue regulations to implement the act; and establish the Bird-Friendly Buildings Fund to financially support building owners to comply with the requirements.

The legislation would impact the exterior glazing for commercial buildings, multi-unit residential buildings, institutional facilities, or District-owned or operated buildings. Additionally, it ensures “each façade of the exterior wall envelope and any exterior fenestration shall be constructed with bird-friendly materials up to 100 feet above grade; provided that other materials may be used to the extent that they do not exceed an aggregate of 10 square feet within any 10 feet by10 feet square area of exterior wall below 100 feet above grade.”

The bill deems property designated as a historic landmark as an exception to the rule.

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