LEED Buildings Can Now Obtain "Bird Friendly" Credits

solar panels

Many of us are doing our part to protect the environment while reducing our impact as well. There are more people than ever embracing environmentally friendly, green technologies. There are solar powered garage doors, mobile device chargers, and even chargers installed into one’s backpack.

There are hand crank, bike powered and other human-powered electronic devices. We have good green building codes that ensure efficiency – in the design of the building itself and once it is in use. LEED is the accepted standard for building in an environmentally sound manner and there are now tens of thousands of LEED-certified buildings across the country.

However, nature cannot be kept up to speed, so to speak, about changes in the designs of our buildings. Some of the things we do to make our buildings more sustainable – and thus eligible for the LEED designation – are not necessarily bird friendly. Bird enthusiasts have, for a long time, complained of the problems birds have with wind turbines.

Countless birds are killed every year because they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The biggest problem with environmental design for birds is, however, not wind turbines, it is windows. Many builders are now taking advantage of passive solar lighting, which utilizes the natural light and heat from the sun for the building.

The problem is that birds cannot differentiate between an open space and glass. Birds are well known to fly straight into glass windows, severely injuring or killing themselves. There is concern that as more buildings are built to employ passive solar lighting, the more birds will be in danger. This is where the pilot program from LEED comes in.

Credits are given to determine the overall “score” of a building, which determines its certification. Credits are being given to buildings that take this understanding of birds into account. Methods being used on windows include so-called “noise” that allows the bird to differentiate between the window and the open air. This includes changes in the UV, different coatings, and other technologies.

These bird credits help meld together nature conservation with green building design. This allows us to continue building more efficient and environmentally friendly buildings without having to worry about indirect losses to wildlife. These simple changes in design can make a big difference without reducing the efficiency of the building in any way, but saving a lot of birds in the process.

Image Credit: pixor on Flickr

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