A developer in Fredericton, N.B. has taken community concerns to heart and incorporated bird-friendly design into a building slated for construction in the city’s downtown core.
“Fredericton is a small city so new buildings don’t go up too often and when they do they tend to get some attention,” explained Jeff Yerxa, president and CEO of developer Ross Ventures. “This was the first full glass curtainwall building that was proposed to be built in Fredericton. It was quite striking and it caught the attention of some people.”
The building is a seven-storey commercial office with ground floor retail, located at Brunswick and Carleton streets. Construction is expected to begin in September and continue until late summer 2020.
The property contains a parking garage that will be attached to the building to accommodate parking needs for the tenants.
When plans for the building were revealed, some residents raised concerns about the environmental impact, particularly with respect to birds flying into the glass building.
“It became a community concern…there was obviously some bad press going on with it and we wanted to address it,” said Yerxa. “We love birds, don’t get me wrong, but what was equally important to us was that the community recognized us as a developer that listens and takes into consideration the concerns of the local community and addresses them.
“I went to the design team and I said ‘you’ve got to figure this out,’ ” Yerxa recalled. “They went to work and found that the City of Toronto has done a fair bit of research on bird-friendly design. It was really simple for us to adopt the guidelines that were put in place by the City of Toronto to reduce bird collisions.”
According to those guidelines, 12 metres, or the first three storeys of the building, need to have something in that glass facade to break up the smooth appearance of it, Yerxa said, adding bird-friendly design is not prevalent in Eastern Canada.
“There are a few ways you can do it, you can have dots or squares or lines baked on to the glass or, in our case, we’re actually going to have a dot pattern that is etched into the glass with a laser when the glass is manufactured,” he noted, adding the dots have to be no more than 100 millimetres apart in any direction and about a quarter of an inch big.
“It gives the birds something to distinguish that reflective surface from open sky to prevent them from flying into it.”
According to naturecanada.ca, in a published scientific paper, Environment Canada ranked window collisions as the second highest direct human cause of bird deaths in Canada, estimating that 16 million to 42 million birds die from window collisions annually in Canada. Ninety per cent of these collisions are with windows in individual houses, about nine per cent from low-rise buildings, and less than one per cent from highrises and skyscrapers.
Despite the “significant” cost it adds to the project, Yerxa said this was the right choice for the community and added the community is happy with the solution.
“We are one of the last remaining local landlords here in Fredericton,” Yerxa stated. “Most of the building stock has been bought by large national and international organizations. It’s really important for us that we feel connected to the community and the community feels connected to us in our development practices.”
It was also important that the building is sustainable as the developer is seeking the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Canada’s Best Sustainable Buildings certification, which recognizes excellence in energy and environmental management and performance in commercial real estate.
“We will be certifying the building so it is important for us to design the building with energy efficiency in mind,” Yerxa said.