NYC to impose bird-friendly building requirements in a year

whitehall terminal staten island ferry
Financial District, NYC Photo by Ajay Suresh Creative commons license

New York City Council has approved Proposed Initiative 1482-B, which the American Bird Conservancy says in news release is  “to date, the most broad-reaching bird-friendly building policy in the country.”

The municipal law requires that the materials used in the construction of new buildings meet bird-friendly safety standards that aim to reduce deadly collisions. The legislation also applies to extensive renovation projects involving the modification of existing glass.

The bill goes into effect one year from its passage on Dec. 10. Then, newly constructed or significantly altered buildings in the five boroughs must adhere to the new standards.

Architectural organizations and the birding community worked with city council to craft the legislation, including FXCollaborative and Ennead Architects.

The stakeholders weighed considerations like building design, use of glass, lighting, heat, and other contributing factors to bird mortality to develop a set of policies that New York City Audubon executive director Kathryn Heintz says “will reduce collisions and save migratory birds whose numbers are declining dramatically.”

AD Pro reported that the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, once deemed one of the worst buildings for birds in the city, was renovated by FXCollaborative in 2013 to include new glass that birds can detect as an obstacle. The end result was both an incredible 90% drop in bird deaths and reduced energy costs. Following these policies could thereby boost building’s sustainability at a time when the city is increasingly focused on energy efficiency

“The materials and techniques that prevent bird collisions are already commonly used for a variety of reasons in our buildings,” Benjamin Prosky, executive director of AIA New York and the Center for Architecture, told the American Bird Conservancy. “This legislation mandates their use in ways that also protect birds in cost-effective ways. AIANY and its members are proud to have fought for this common-sense bill.”


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