Around Town | July 4, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - July 4, 2014

Around Town

FOR THE BIRDS ... Architecture is always a hot topic in Palo Alto, but it's rarely framed as a matter of life and death. Unless, of course, you're a bird lover. Shani Kleinhaus, an environmental advocate with the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, says buildings with too much glass pose a danger for birds, particularly ones that are young or in the midst of migration. To that end, she is trying to encourage Palo Alto officials to adopt bird-friendly design guidelines for new buildings (she was set to give a presentation on the topic to the Architectural Review Board on July 3. Kleinhaus said recent research shows that while glass buildings are generally thought to be energy efficient, the optimal proportion of glass wall is between 25 and 40 percent. Going beyond 50 or 60 percent becomes both wasteful, she said, and hazardous for birds. The danger is particularly severe when the glass is reflective or when it's placed around an attractive destination such as a green roof or a passageway. From that perspective, the city's new Mitchell Park Library and Community Center (which features both glass walls and a green roof) "looks like a model example of what not to do," Kleinhaus told the Weekly. Some cities and companies have already taken actions to deal with the problem. San Francisco and Oakland have ordinances for bird-friendly building designs, Kleinhaus said, and companies such as Apple and Google have been working with the Audubon Society to reduce the threat posed by their glassy buildings. She noted that the new developments on San Antonio Road will have ceramic outlines around glass panels, which will serve as a warning to birds.

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