Back in January, 2nd Ward Alder Hopkins introduced a bird-friendly design ordinance that would restrict the amount of fully transparent glass on many new construction buildings, by requiring glass of a specific transparency or fritting. Thousands of birds die after flying into glass-enclosed buildings in downtown Chicago and buildings near parks. Incorporating different kinds of glass or applying specific patterns to glass can reduce the crashes.

Hopkins introduced a revised bird-friendly design ordinance last week (O2019-5575), with five co-sponsors (La Spata, Waguespack, Reilly, Smith, and Osterman). 

There are significant differences. The revised ordinance applies to far fewer buildings. The previous ordinance would have applied to all new construction buildings, and those being renovated or rehabilitated. The revised ordinance would apply only to new construction buildings and additions in D-Downtown zoning districts, Planned Developments, the Lakefront Protection zone, and lots abutting the "POS" (public open space) zoning districts. In all cases, the revised ordinance would exempt buildings with 1-3 units while the previous ordinance would have exempted buildings with 1-6 units and townhouses.

The "site selection" section of the ordinance was removed. The section appeared difficult to enforce because it had no performance measures. 

It is much easier in the revised ordinance to understand where on buildings the rules would apply. The LEED pilot credit option remains, but for builders who don't use that option the revised ordinance would require the following areas of a building to comply with bird-friendly design:

  1. At ground level: 95 percent or more of the façade from grade to 36 feet above grade or the top of a podium or the top of adjacent mature vegetated canopy (whichever is higher)

  2. On amenity decks and green roofs: 95 percent or more of the façades from the finished surface to 36 feet above the deck.

  3. 60 percent or more of the façades not in (1) and (2).

The required and allowable methods for designing bird-friendly façades are mostly the same between the two ordinances, but the revised ordinance is more specific and incorporates more of the recommendations of the American Bird Conservancy's Bird-Friendly Building Design guide.

Review the proposed ordinance to see the full list of allowable glass and fritting types.