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Federal bird-safe buildings legislation introduced in Senate


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#1 Ellen Paul

Ellen Paul

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 12:59 PM

This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 11 ornithological societies. Join or renew your membership in your ornithological society if you value the services these societies provide to you, including Ornithology Exchange and the Ornithological Council!

 

To keep track of this legislation and other legislation of interest to ornithologists, visit the Ornithological Council legislative database.

 

On 6 October 2017, Sen. Corey Booker introduced legislation to require the General Services Administration to use bird-safe materials in federal buildings. Text for S. 1920 is not yet available, but it is expected that the text will be much like H.R. 2542, the Federal Bird-safe Building Act of 2017, which provides that:

 

This bill requires each public building constructed, substantially altered, or acquired by the General Services Administration (GSA) to meet the following standards:

  • at least 90% of the exposed facade material from ground level to 40 feet shall not be composed of glass or shall be composed of glass employing elements that preclude bird collisions without completely obscuring vision, ultraviolet (UV) patterned glass that contains UV-reflective or contrasting patterns that are visible to birds, patterns on glass designed in accordance with a rule that restricts horizontal spaces to less than 2 inches high and vertical spaces to less than 4 inches wide, opaque, etched, stained, frosted, or translucent glass, or any combination of these methods (modified glass);
  • at least 60% of the exposed facade material above 40 feet shall meet such glass standard;
  • there shall not be any transparent passageways or corners;
  • all glass adjacent to atria or courtyards containing water features, plants, and other materials attractive to birds shall meet the modified glass standard; and
  • outside lighting shall be appropriately shielded and minimized.

GSA must: (1) ensure that actual bird mortality is monitored at each public building; and (2) reduce exterior building and site lighting for each public building, where practicable.

The bill exempts historic buildings of national significance, the White House and its grounds, the Supreme Court building and its grounds, and the U.S. Capitol and its related buildings and grounds from the provisions of this bill.

The House bill, which has 20 co-sponsors, has been introduced at least four times before; last time, it got 27 co-sponsors but never got out of committee.  It was just referred to committee and is unlikely to get out of subcommittee much less the full committee. It would apply only to federally owned (not leased) constructed, substantially altered, or acquired (presumably from the date of enactment). In the near-term, there is unlikely to be much construction or alteration to federal buildings and, in fact, they have been trying to sell off federal buildings for decades. The bill also requires monitoring which, of course, would not be funded. 

 






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