To maximize natural light, buildings need glass. Many skyscrapers classified and certified as energy-efficient and green have at least one entirely glass façade. This is generally positive as it ensures opportunity to maximize natural light, which is both beneficial for utility bills and for a buildings’ inhabitants. Daylighting advisement suggests strategically adding glazing wherever possible. Even this environmentally-conscious method of improving indoor spaces has a potential drawback—birds can’t see the barrier.
A recently green built Duke University building, the Fitzpatrick Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine and Applied Sciences, has supposedly caused 85 avian fatalities during multiple, 21-day monitoring periods in the 2014 to 2015 school year. Another unpublished study found that Duke is responsible for the highest number of bird deaths when 45 different universities were compared. Part of the reason the number is so high is Duke's position along the Atlantic Flyway, a major migratory path.
This kind of problem persists in major cities that have recently built glass-dominant offices. The American Bird Conservancy estimates about 1 billion birds are killed annually as the result of building collisions and more than 500,000 die from collisions with wind turbines. Resources offer many ways to limit collisions, so that buildings might still utilize the positive energy savings from a lot of glazing without the unintended consequence. The findings is a reminder, however, that even the greenest design strategies still impact the surrounding environment.
Read more about the Duke University finding from News & Observer.