Buildings are causing billions of bird deaths each year - Boodle Hatfield

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16 Mar 2022

Buildings are causing billions of bird deaths each year

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Oliver Johnson View profile
Ruby Dyce View profile
2 min read

With the rapid growth of urban spaces in modern times, it may come as no surprise that the natural world sometimes has a tricky time keeping up.

Across the globe, billions of bird deaths have been linked to window collisions. In the UK alone, estimates suggest that up to 30 million birds are killed each year as they are unable to distinguish the transparent and reflective glass included in many modern buildings.

Numerous ideas, from adhesive tape to UV-signal emitting glass, have been touted as possible solutions. Perhaps the simplest solution though, is the use of patterned glass. Glass can be patterned in a number of ways, including 'fritted', where the pattern is printed using a ceramic ink of ultra-fine glass particles. This minimises glare and makes the panes more visible, therefore reducing the danger to birdlife. This type of glass is also more energy-efficient as it helps to reduce solar heat gain which in turn reduces cooling costs and energy-consumption.

Certain environmental groups have called for wider legislation to reflect the recommendations above, so that bird-friendly design becomes the norm for building projects. Some local bird-friendly building laws have been introduced in New York, but no such legislation is currently in force or envisaged in the UK.

In order to achieve the UK's 2050 net zero emissions target, the construction industry will need to make large strides in its approach to sustainability. However, it is important to bear in mind the overarching aim of net zero is to protect and preserve the natural environment. Whilst the industry makes more fundamental changes in its drive towards sustainability, smaller changes which have an impact on biodiversity and wildlife in a tangible way to local environments should not be forgotten. Simple changes can help protect local bird populations, and these should be taken into consideration by industry professionals when considering new developments.

In the UK, the British Trust for Ornithology estimates up to 30 million birds die from window strikes every year.

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