Close to nature

30Aug11

Over the weekend, I took a walk past a new shopping center in my neighborhood. It’s slated to open in about a month, and will include the first real grocery store that people in this area can get to without crossing the river.

The scene looked just like what you’d expect from an almost-finished commercial building: the exterior was basically done, the sidewalks were passable, and the interior was in the early stages of tenant buildout. But one thing was definitely out of place: the dead bird on the sidewalk. How did a dead bird end up there? Most likely, it flew from the park across the street into the reflective glass on the front of the new building, and was killed on impact.

Birds running into buildings is hardly news. From what I recall, it’s been a problem ever since the first glass-front skyscrapers were constructed. But it poses a special challenge for new buildings that are located close to animal habitats and migration paths, such as parks, lakes, beaches and nature preserves. Arguably, the simple proximity to nature means that customers will expect those buildings to be greener and more sensitive to the surrounding nature areas.

Ironically, the shopping center in question has actually been touted as the first LEED-certified structure of its kind in my area, and boasts a series of other environmentally-conscious features. Hopefully the owners will do something to reduce the danger to the birds living in the park across the street, since it would be a real shame for such a well-conceived project to damage the neighboring habitat.



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