Saturday, November 24, 2007

The avian cost of environmentally friendly architecture


Environmentally friendly buildings are often bird killers, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Mathematics and Science Building, one of Emory University's most environmentally friendly buildings and a hallmark of that school's environmental efforts, has been described as an "avian slaughterhouse." Every year the building's reflective glass kills dozens of birds who confuse the woodsy reflection with the actual forest. In response, Emory installs netting during the migratory season.

The AJC quotes Muhlenberg College ornithologist Daniel Klem for this statistic: between 100 million and 1 billion birds die in the United States each year in collisions with glass.

Buildings that earn LEED certifications, the gold standard for environmentally friendly architecture, often incorporate large amounts of glass. According to Klem, few architects consider the impact of their designs on birds. As a result, avian casualties are an unintended consequence of designing buildings to take advantage of natural light.

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