Bird-Friendly Construction Required as of January 10

Bird-Friendly Construction Required as of January 10

By Tynesha Goode

Effective January 10, 2021, new buildings and alterations that include replacement of all exterior glazing must comply with Local Law 15 of 2020, which requires bird-friendly design and construction. The law excludes alterations that do not replace all exterior glazing (a building’s glass panels and elements), including storefront replacements that affect only a portion of the exterior glazing.

The new requirements will also apply to filings made before January 10, 2021, that have not yet received job status “D” in the Buildings Information System (BIS) or that have a pending CPE/ACPE or Prof Cert QA assignment status in DOB NOW.

New Building Code Definitions

The local law aims to reduce the number of avian deaths in New York City—estimated between 90,000 and 230,000 by New York City Audubon. To that end, the legislation has introduced several new definitions to the building code.

Bird-friendly material refers to a material or assembly with a maximum threat factor of 25, based on one of the following standards:

  • American Bird Conservancy Bird Collision Deterrence Material Threat Factor Reference Standard
  • American Bird Conservancy Bird-friendly Materials Evaluation Program at Carnegie Museum’s Avian Research Center test protocol
  • Relevant ASTM standard

Bird Hazard Installations are monolithic glazing installations that offer a clear line of sight on building exteriors, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Glass awnings
  • Glass handrails and guards
  • Glass wind break panels
  • Glass acoustic barriers

Fly-Through Conditions describe one or more panels of glass offering a clear line of sight through such elements, which creates the illusion of a passage to the other side. Such conditions include parallel glass elements positioned within 17 feet of one another, as well as a convergence of glass sides to create a perpendicular, acute, or obtuse corner.

Bird-Friendly Construction Requirements

Affected construction projects must use bird-friendly materials in the exterior wall envelope, as well as any associated openings, up to 75 feet above grade. Use of other materials may not exceed an aggregate area of 10 square feet within any 10’ x 10’ square area of exterior wall below the 75-foot threshold.

The following exceptions apply:

  • Where the New York City Zoning Resolution requires ground-floor transparency, transparent bird-friendly material with a UV-reflective pattern and a maximum threat factor of 27 shall be used.
  • In areas of special flood hazard and shaded X-Zones where the New York City Zoning Resolution proposes flood-resistant glazing and requires ground-floor transparency, transparent bird-friendly material with a UV-reflective pattern and a maximum threat factor of 36 shall be used.

Bird-friendly materials are required for construction of all bird hazard installations, regardless of their height above grade.

Fly-through conditions located 75 feet or less above grade must also be constructed from bird-friendly materials.

For green roof systems, the adjacent exterior wall envelope and any associated openings must be constructed with bird-friendly materials up to 12 feet above the walking surface.

The Department of Buildings has published a Bird Friendly Building Design & Construction Requirements Guidance Document to assist with compliance.

To learn more about Local Law 15 of 2020 and how it affects your construction projects, please contact Metropolis Group at 212.233.6344.