Developments are popping up everywhere around the Bay Area like daisies.

For our industry, it’s great, because obviously the more buildings there are, the more glass there is for us to clean…. but there is a downside. 🙁

Although the glitz and glamour of a new building rob the spotlight, there are aspects of these buildings that also rob animals of their habitat and cause other ecological disruptions.

Did you know that there about 400 species of birds in San Francisco? According to the SF Planning Division, that number actually makes up almost half of the bird species in North America. This problem is not just in San Francisco, but in the nation as well.  SF Planning Division’s report on Bird Safe Buildings stated that the 1st ever recorded event was back in 1948.  In that report, more than 200 birds from 30 species had collided with the Empire State Building.

Unfortunately, the problem has escalated. “Annual bird mortality resulting from window collisions in the U.S. is estimated to be between 365- 988 million birds. While most people consider bird/glass collisions an urban phenomenon involving tall, mirrored-glass skyscrapers, the reality is that 56% of collision mortality occurs at low-rise (i.e., one to three story) buildings, 44% at urban and rural residences, and <1% at high-rises.” (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Division of Migratory Bird Management)

And so, the size of the building isn’t what is causing these habitat disruptions…it has more to do with the glass. The problem is that birds do not see the glass as glass. When flying towards the reflection of the glass, the birds recognize sky, trees and other familiar landscape. 


There’s good news though!

The US Green Building Council rates buildings by encouraging the commercial real estate industry to apply green-friendly practices. The best part is that any building, old or new, can work its way up the ranking system.  The USGBC recommends installing glass that creates a visual cue for birds to deter them from the building. By implementing subtle glass features, birds won’t be able to collide into the windows because they won’t be mistaking a reflection for real space.

  • Create Your Own Pattern On Your Glass To Decrease Transparency With Stripes, Subtle Dots, or Color Contrast.
  • Install External Films, Fritted Glass, Screens!
  • Add Architectural Features Like Louvers, Overhangs, Shutters, Etc!
  • Add Motion Sensors For lights! Make Sure Lighting Is “Fully Shielded” (or “zero up light/dark sky compliant”).
  • For More Detailed Info On Glass Solutions, Visit “The US Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Bird Management” website here.



  1. Get the USGBC Bird Collision Threat Rating Calculation Excel Spreadsheet here!
  2. Visit the National Bird Conservatory site to learn more about how you can help keep these beautiful birds alive!


American Bird Conservatory

SF Planning Department: “Standards for Bird-Safe Buildings”

US Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Bird Management

Check Out Our Other Articles: 

The Most Interesting Building You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

The Airport Windows That Decrease Your Stress While Traveling

What Can LEED Certification Do For Your Tenants?

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