Bird-Friendly Building Ordinance
What would the Chicago Bird-Friendly Building Ordinance specifically propose?
The ordinance would establish requirements for bird-friendly design with general guidelines and more specific criteria:
Design buildings to limit the percentage of transparent or reflective glass in the overall building exterior.
In situations that are proven hazards, specify glass that provides visual patterns for birds that can prevent them from striking transparent or reflective surfaces.
Limit the amount, location and timing of exterior lighting.
Reduce interior lighting visible from the outside using timers, dimmers, blinds and motion controls.
Avoid situations where plantings can be reflected on glass surfaces or seen in building interiors through transparent glass.
What buildings will the ordinance affect?
Existing buildings will have to do nothing unless they undertake a major renovation project, although voluntary efforts to reduce building collisions are always encouraged.
Bird-friendly design would not be required for single-family homes and two- and three-flats, although it is encouraged. It would be required for larger residential projects and all commercial development.
Will bird-friendly measures increase costs?
Depending on building design, there is a range of costs - starting at $0.
Retrofitting an existing structure because of excessive bird mortality will be much more expensive and can alter the planned look of a building. Including bird-friendly features from the start can integrate them into an attractive design.
Reduction in the number and area of windows can reduce initial cost, replacement and maintenance when compared to a façade that has a higher percentage of glass coverage.
There may be a higher upfront cost for treated glass but these costs may be recovered over time. Bird-friendly glass can be cost neutral because products such as fritted glass used to decrease collisions can also reduce heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter thereby reducing cooling and heating costs. Treated glass surfaces and modified use of glass can give an enhanced appearance to a building design.
Modification to exterior and interior lighting are already part of sustainability measures and can result in energy savings.
Won’t a bird-friendly building ordinance be difficult to implement and enforce?
No, the City of Chicago implements and enforces all kinds of complicated building regulations on a daily basis. One of the methods is self-certification, where the architect or other professional reviews the code requirements, designs the building accordingly, and certifies that the building design meets the specific criteria. This is done with a great many building permit subjects that are more complicated than bird-friendly building design.
Other cities have adopted various forms of bird-friendly building design and enforce the code routinely and with no exceptional problems.
Building and zoning and other codes are, by definition, limits that are imposed for the sake of public safety and the greater civic good.
The Bird Friendly Building Ordinance would simply correct a problem that has worsened with the increased use of glass exteriors and internal and external building illumination. An ordinance will provide for the protection of migratory birds as an important part of a sustainable and green Chicago which benefits all citizens.