Bird-Safe Building Legislation Introduced in Congress, City of Chicago

Millions of birds die in the U.S. each year due to collisions with glass. This phenomenon is not exclusive to skyscrapers; windows of any size can cause collisions, especially if they reflect large amounts of vegetation and sky. To mitigate bird deaths, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) reintroduced the Bird-Safe Buildings Act of 2019 to the U.S. House of Representatives on January 30, 2019. The bipartisan bill 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.

“Almost one third of all bird species in the U.S. hold endangerment status, which gives us the responsibility to protect birds from preventable deaths,” says Quigley. “By using materials that conceal indoor lighting to the outside, we can dramatically reduce the frequency of birds colliding with glass buildings. With birding activities supporting 620,000 jobs and bringing in $6.2 billion in state tax revenues, this is both an environmental and economic issue with a relatively simple, cost-neutral and humanitarian fix.”

The bill states that each public building constructed, acquired or of which more than 50 percent of the façade is altered substantially by the Administrator of General Services must meet, to the maximum extent practicable, the following standards:

• At least 90 percent 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 percent of the exposed façade material above
40 feet shall meet the above standards.

• 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 above standards.

• Outside lighting shall be appropriately shielded and minimized subject to security and other mission-related requirements.

Buildings listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the White House, the Supreme Court building and the U.S. Capitol would be exempt.

On February 7, 2019 the bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management.

Several industry companies have addressed the issue in recent years by offering bird-safe glazing options which include acid etching, frit and UV patterns visible to birds.

“We believe the industry has good solutions for bird glass and expect building codes to grow in this area. Sustainability is hard-wired into our corporate values and we’ve been advocates of energy-efficiency and green building. I’m not deeply familiar with the legislation, but am always concerned with the efficiency and efficacy when these efforts
come from Congress,” says Robert Struble, brand and communications manager at Vitro Architectural Glass.

Guardian Glass has worked with the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance to create a fundraising campaign to enhance the testing capabilities of ABC, making it easier and faster to test and demonstrate the bird-friendly properties of potential glass configurations, according to Sarah Wansack, marketing manager with Guardian Glass. The company also has developed bird-friendly glazing products.

“We have the bill under review, however, Guardian Glass is committed to demonstrating that reducing the window-to-wall ratio is not the only solution; there are bird-safe coated glass product solutions that give occupants the daylighting and environment they desire while providing a deterrent to bird strikes,” says Wansack. “Over the past
years, Guardian Glass has been very involved in understanding and testing coated glass solutions for bird-glass collisions…”


A Bird Friendly Design Ordinance was also introduced in Chicago by Alderman Brian Hopkins to mitigate bird collisions with glass over time by establishing bird safe standards for new building construction and substantial renovations or rehabilitated buildings that require permits. If passed, the ordinance will go into effect for all permits applied for beginning on January 1, 2020.

The ordinance would not apply to detached homes, townhouses, two-flats or residential buildings of six units or less; however, the exemptions are not applicable if glazing on at least one façade exceeds 30 percent of the façade.
The ordinance also requires that site selection must be made in consideration of nearby existing bird habitats, landscaped plantings and known bird migratory paths. In circumstances where a building is adjacent to a natural area, or separated by a roadway from a natural area, the glazing treatment must be the greater of the height of the
mature tree canopy or 50 feet above grade.

According to the ordinance, buildings would have to be designed so the building and site structures are visible as physical barriers to birds. Interior landscaping is deemed to be the “greatest threat potential,” therefore, visible interior landscaping should always be behind the highest level bird-friendly exterior glazing.

Structures such as railings, windscreens, skywalks and bus shelters must be constructed entirely of materials with a threat score of 15 or less. A threat factor refers to the degree of risk that a material poses to birds as defined by the most current American Bird Conservancy’s Bird Collision Deterrence: Summary of Material Threat Factors. Clear glass, single pane or insulating, has a threat factor of 100.

Buildings must be designed and built in accordance with either of the
following requirements:

• At least 95 percent of the exposed façade material from ground level to
36 feet and the first story above any podium, including but not limited to
a green roof or landscaped area, is not glass or has glass that:
– Has elements mounted outside glass that eliminate reflectivity, like secondary facades, netting, screens, shutters or exterior shades;
– Is opaque, etched, stained, frosted or translucent glass;
– Includes patterns applied to or integral to glass on at least 60 percent of the exposed façade above 36 feet and in the first story above any podium which is:

• Visible from the outside, from an inspection distance of 18 inches,
regardless of location of pattern (side one or side two) and reflectance of surface;
• Created by regular or irregular lines spaced no more than 2 inches apart at any point, with a minimum line width of 1/8-inch; or

• Composed of dots or other shapes with a minimum dimension of 2/8-inch.

• Satisfies the requirements of the most current version of LEED
Pilot Credit 55 – Bird Collision Deterrence.

The ordinance also specifies requirements for external and interior lighting. Chicago already has a program called Lights Out Chicago which encourages owners and managers of tall buildings to turn off or dim their decorative lights during the migratory season.

The bill is supported by Bird Friendly Chicago, the city’s Audubon society, and architecture firms such as Studio Gang.

“If we keep environmental impact in mind from the start of the design process, we can create buildings that are functional and aesthetically pleasing, and also bird friendly. This ordinance is a great step forward by a city with a history of groundbreaking architectural advancement,” said Jeanne Gang, founding principal of Studio Gang in a release from Bird Friendly Chicago.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the ordinance could face opposition
from real estate developers in the city.

“I think we’re all interested in doing what we can to protect the birds during their migration season,” said Michael Cornicelli, executive vice president of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago, which represents most downtown commercial buildings to the Chicago Tribune. “I think it’s a matter of determining what are the most cost-effective measures to do that.”

Door Thresholds Part of AD/CVD Orders from China

On December 19, 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued final
decisions in three scope proceedings, confirming that door thresholds are
covered by the AD/CVD orders on aluminum extrusions from China. This is
pursuant to requests for scope rulings from Columbia Aluminum Products
LLC, Worldwide Door Components Inc. and MJB Wood Group Inc.

The Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) and Endura Products Inc. had participated jointly in these proceedings. They provided the U.S. Department of Commerce with information demonstrating that door thresholds containing extruded aluminum are covered by the scope of the AD/CVD orders and were intentionally included within the scope by the petitioner during the original investigations, according to a release from
the AEC.

The Department of Commerce confirmed the express inclusion of the extrusion in the door thresholds to be within the scope of the AD/CVD orders. It explained that for this reason, door thresholds cannot be removed from the coverage of the AD/CVD orders pursuant to a claim that they are finished merchandise.

“This is a clear win for the aluminum extrusion industry in the United States,” says AEC president Jeff Henderson. “The trade orders, which have been in effect since April 2011, clearly state door thresholds were covered by our orders. It was very important to the AEC and its members that Commerce stand by its orders and declare these extrusions subject to the duties.”

Resorts World Las Vegas Reaches Settlement with Wynn Resorts over Alleged Design Infringement

Wynn Resorts Holdings, based in Las Vegas, has reached a settlement with Resorts World Las Vegas (RWLV), a $4 billion resort being developed by Genting Group, after Wynn sued RWLV for its alleged unauthorized use of Wynn’s “registered and world famous” architectural building design. The lawsuit, filed on December 21, 2018, highlighted RWLV’s alleged use of a “three-dimensional building with concave façade, and curved, bronze glass, coupled with horizontal banding above and between the lines of glass panes.”

The new RWLV hotel is being built directly across the street from the Wynn and Encore hotel casinos. The lawsuit referred to the construction as “substantially and confusingly similar to [Wynn’s design] and copyrighted architectural work.” Wynn claimed the similar architecture would mislead the public into believing the new hotel is associated with Wynn when it is not. It also said the design violated its copyrights and registered trade dress.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, RWLV representatives’ immediate response to the lawsuit was, “Upon completion, RWLV will look dramatically different from Wynn’s properties, dispelling any suggestion that a reasonable consumer could confuse the two resorts for each other.”

The companies have since reached a settlement.

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