New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Raphael Espinal Jr. have introduced legislation that aims to protect the wellbeing of New York’s avian population.
The proposed bill would require that 90 percent of glass on new and altered buildings be treated to reduce bird strike fatalities. This treatment, which would heighten the visibility of glass for birds, would be required on all glass balcony railings, glass corners, and glass exteriors.
The New York City Audubon Society estimates that 90,000 to 230,000 birds die annually in New York City alone by colliding with glass buildings. The introduction of the bill coincides with the beginning of the northern migration season, but the bill would go into effect no sooner than four months after it’s passed.
“Hitting glass buildings is one of the leading causes of bird deaths, and in a city like New York, that toll can be extremely high each year,” said Espinal. “There is no reason why our urban landscape can’t coexist with, and even enhance, the natural world. Avian creatures are a vital part of our ecosystem, and we neglect them at our own peril.”
Some architects have already begun incorporating bird-friendly measures into their buildings: The Javits Center, the 760,000-square-foot convention center clad entirely in glass, underwent a bird-friendly upgrade courtesy of FXCollaborative, which clad the building in a patterned glass that heightens its visibility to birds. Dan Piselli, the director of sustainability at the firm, told Architectural Digest that the patterned glass has helped reduce bird deaths at the site by 95 percent.
A similar bipartisan bill was introduced on the federal level in January by Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois and Republican Congressman Morgan Griffith of Virginia. The bill calls for a certain percentage of bird-safe glass to be used on new federal buildings. Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced a Senate version in the last session of Congress.