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Specifying Responsibly to Save Birds’ Lives

Sponsored Content Glass and Glazing

Specifying Responsibly to Save Birds’ Lives

Realizing sustainable, bird-friendly glass design


By Vitro Architectural Glass | October 1, 2021
A new addition at The National Aviary in Pittsburgh showcases acid-etched, solar control low-e glass to provide views, bird safety and energy performance. Photo courtesy of Vitro Architectural Glass
A new addition at The National Aviary in Pittsburgh showcases acid-etched, solar control low-e glass to provide views, bird safety and energy performance. Photo courtesy of Vitro Architectural Glass

While glass is one of the most economical, versatile and beautiful building materials, collisions with glass remain a major cause of bird mortality in North America. This has led to a surge in legislation for bird-safe building materials in North America and beyond.

Last year, the Bird-Safe Buildings Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. Meanwhile, the National Glass Association (NGA) leads a bird-safe glazings advocacy effort. Some municipalities, such as New York City, even require bird-safe glass on certain building types.

Saving Birds Lives While Saving Energy

Industry standards are emerging in relation to bird-friendly glass. Glasses today are often evaluated against the 2″ x 4″ rule, based on the idea that birds will not attempt to fly into spaces they detect as being less than 2 inches high and 4 inches wide. Glasses can be assigned “threat factors,” which measures the potential risks a glass can pose to bird populations. 

The National Aviary in Pittsburgh showcases acid-etched, solar control low-e glass to provide views, bird safety and energy performance. Photo courtesy of Vitro Architectural Glass
The National Aviary's acid-etched, solar control low-e glass. Photo courtesy of Vitro Architectural Glass

In coming years, bird-safe glass is expected to gain in preference and find its way into more local building codes and architect demand is expected to accelerate. 

Meanwhile, increasingly stringent energy codes and a global drive for sustainability demand excellent energy performance in glass products. 

A Sustainable, Bird-Safe Solution

The partnership between Walker Glass and Vitro provides a bird-safe glazing solution while saving energy. AviProtek® E bird-safe low-e glass helps architects and building owners satisfy new regulations for bird-friendly building design, achieve their environmental goals, earn LEED® credits and meet solar-performance targets.

 AviProtek® E glass has received numerous accolades over the years and is the only bird-safe glass product available with an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). This allows architects to secure an additional LEED point for their projects using Pilot Credit 55 related to bird deterrence. It also meets California building legislation requirement (AB262) enacted in 2020. AviProtek® E also has a Health Product Declaration (HPD), which contributes to LEED points in the Materials & Resources (MR) Category. 

An Alternative to Ceramic Frit

While ceramic frit is commonly used to satisfy bird-safe glass requirements, acid-etched visual markers — such as those used in AviProtek® E bird-friendly glass — are generally more effective when optimized for energy efficiency. By placing acid-etched visual markers on the first surface of an insulating glass unit (IGU), which is preferred to prevent bird collisions, a solar control, low-e coating can be applied to the second surface—which is ideal for optimizing performance. 

Ceramic frit is not optimized for the first surface of IGUs. When ceramic frit is placed on the first surface, the low-e coating must be placed on the third surface, potentially compromising energy performance.

To learn more about bird-friendly glass from Vitro Architectural Glass and Walker Glass, visit www.vitroglazings.com/birds

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For glass openings, how big is too big?

Advances in glazing materials and glass building systems offer a seemingly unlimited horizon for not only glass performance, but also for the size and extent of these light, transparent forms. Both for enclosures and for indoor environments, novel products and assemblies allow for more glass and less opaque structure—often in places that previously limited their use.


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