Bird-friendly building standards in the works

Developers working in San Francisco may have to add bird crashes to the list of environmental concerns they are required to consider when designing new buildings.

The American Bird Conservancy told San Francisco Planning Commissioners Thursday that every home in the nation is responsible for an average of one to 10 bird deaths every year — and that environmental building design standards are making the problem worse.

Environmentally friendly building standards are leading to a proliferation of glass facades, while vegetated roofs can attract more bird-life towards the glass-draped buildings, Washington D.C.-based American Bird Conservancy Bird Collisions Campaign Manager Chris Sheppard said during the hearing.

“Glass is very deadly to birds,” Sheppard said. “The first time they encounter glass, it’s usually fatal as they try to fly through the glass to get to a tree that they think is on the other side.”

The Planning Department plans to meet with developers to discuss strategies to reduce bird deaths, such as mandating the use of patterned glass, city planner Craig Nikitas said.

Applying patterns to less than 10 percent of glass can reduce bird deaths by 90 percent, Sheppard said.

“Unfortunately, not everybody wants to have some version of stripes on their glass,” Sheppard said.

Because birds can see light in the ultraviolet spectrum that isn’t visible to humans, Sheppard said a technological breakthrough is possible that would allow builders to create invisible bird-saving patterns on windows and glass facades.

New York, Chicago and Toronto have already adopted bird-friendly building standards, according to Sheppard.

Sheppard’s presentation received a sympathetic response from planning commissioners, who urged planning staff to continue to work to develop on bird-friendly building standards.

“There’s no excuse any more to build in ways that would threaten any living species on this planet,” Commissioner Christina Olague said during the hearing. “We have to respect all living things.

Bay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsPoliticsUnder the Dome

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

From left, California state Sen. Milton Marks, Sen. Nicholas Petris, Assemblyman John Knox and Save San Francisco Bay Association co-founders Esther Gulick, Sylvia McLaughlin and Kay Kerr watch Gov. Ronald Reagan sign the bill establishing the Bay Conservation and Development Commission as a permanent agency in 1969. (Courtesy Save The Bay)
Sixty years of Saving San Francisco Bay

Pioneering environmental group was started by three ladies on a mission

Temporary high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be added to sections of state Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 101, including Park Presidio Boulevard, to keep traffic flowing as The City reopens. <ins>(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes coming to some of The City’s busiest streets

Changes intended to improve transit reliability as traffic increases with reopening

Tents filled up a safe camping site in a former parking lot at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin in June 2020.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Proposal for major expansion of safe sleeping sites gets cool reception in committee

Supervisor Mandelman calls for creation of more temporary shelter sites to get homeless off streets

A surplus of	mice on the Farallon Islands have caused banded burrowing owls to stay year round instead of migrating, longtime researchers say. <ins>(Courtesy Point Blue Conservation Science)</ins>
Farallon Islands researchers recommend eradicating mice

The Farallon Islands comprise three groups of small islands located nearly 30… Continue reading

Once we can come and go more freely, will people gather the way they did before COVID? <ins>(Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner file photo)</ins>
What happens when the pandemic is over?

After experiencing initial excitement, I wonder just how much I’ll go out

Most Read