Michael Mesure with FLAP Canada spoke at the GANA Fall Conference about design options that can help mitigate bird deaths caused by glass collisions.
Michael Mesure with FLAP Canada spoke at the GANA Fall Conference about design options that can help mitigate bird deaths caused by glass collisions.

The subject of bird-friendly glazing has been in the news frequently of late—but the topic is not new. For decades, groups and organizations have advocated for safer designs and glazing options. Michael Mesure with Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) Canada spoke yesterday to attendees of the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Fall Conference, underway this week in Toronto. He talked about the work his organization is doing, and provided a look at some glazing and design options that can help mitigate bird deaths caused by glass collisions.

When Mesure asked how many in the audience had ever had a bird fly into a window at their home or office, pretty much every hand went up. He explained that through his organization, which was founded in 1993, they learned quickly that properties in glass can be a threat to birds. According to information on the FLAP website, “an estimated 1 to 10 birds die per building, per year. The City of Toronto has [more than] 950,000 registered buildings that could potentially kill [more than] 9 million birds each year. Across North America, the estimated number of migrating birds killed annually in collisions with buildings ranges from 100 million to 1 billion birds.”

Mesure explained that FLAP began by focusing on light, as birds are attracted to bright lights. Another issue is the reflective nature of a glass surface. “Birds do not understand glass,” said Mesure.

So, he said, some concerns with buildings include mirrored walls, transparent windows, glass railings, bright lights.

While large-sized buildings are often in the news as causing a concern, Mesure said it doesn’t have to be a huge structure to pose a threat. “It can be any glazed surface,” he said.

Another issue can even come from placing greenery on the inside of the glass, as birds will see it and try to fly into it.

Mesure said in order to try and mitigate bird collisions, markers (such as a frit pattern) can be applied to the glass; keeping lights turned off when not needed and designing the glass to be at an angle can also help.

He said one of the biggest challenges to get through to the architectural community is that the aesthetics of the design are a threat. But there are products that can help.

“You have to be able to tell the bird there is something in front of them,” he said. Options can include printed glass, design features on glass, etc.

According to Mesure, Toronto was the first city to create bird-safe building guidelines; now cities all over the world are starting to address this issue.

“It is now an offense under Ontario law (EPA) to emit reflected light that kills or injures birds,” he said.

And he reminded the audience, “When you apply a marker to glazed surface the contrast has to be great enough for the bird to see it. If you have a hard time seeing it the bird definitely has a hard time seeing it.”

GANA also offers a Glass Informational Bulletin on bird-friendly design strategies, which is available in the GANA online store. It is a free download for GANA members.

The Fall Conference concludes today. Stay tuned to USGNN™ for more reports and updates.

The subject of bird-safe glass and architecture is one USGNN™ and USGlass magazine has covered frequently. The following links provide a look at just some of the past articles:

Finally, Glass is for the Birds: “Avian Friendly” Glass Comes to North America

Technical Document Addresses Bird Friendly Glass

San Francisco Aims to Mandate Use of Bird-Safe Glazing

Also, the 2014 GANA BEC Conference, Marc Deschamps with Walker Glass spoke to USGNN™ about his company’s new bird-safe glass.

1 Comment

  1. We are installing on of the largest bird protective glass projects in the Utah. Some 32,000 Sf will have a low E coating combined with a special bird protective film from Arnold Glass of Germany. The Project is the U of U SJ Quinney School of Law. The Design Architect is the Smith Group and the Local Architect of Record is VCBO. The Contractor is Big D Construction. Glass is expected to be installed by the end of january

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