Prevent bird killings by the Damen Student/Norville Center
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While many buildings on Loyola University Chicago's Lakeshore campus are energy efficient from the large windows’ natural light, they aren't completely "green."
Large windows are a threat to birds - they cannot see glass while flying at high speeds and often collide with it. This seriously injures and kills many birds; maybe you've seen them near the student center lying lifeless on the ground, or hobbling around unable to fly. This issue can be EASILY remedied by putting blinds on the windows. Blinds were added to the windows of the Klarchek Information Commons and the Sullivan Center and have significantly lowered bird deaths (details below). However, the largest danger now for birds on our campus is still the three-story glass building in the center of campus: Damen Student Center and Norville Center. Despite four years of advisement from our professors an environmental staff to add blinds to this building*, Loyola has failed to do its duty to protect the environment. In addition, I have learned that, yet again, despite advisement from Loyola environmental staff, the new sky-walkway that will connect the new athletics center to Norville, will be constructed almost entirely out of glass without any sort of anti-collision technology (more information below). Maybe the university and Facilities Management team will be more receptive to your pleas! If you are a Loyola student, perspective student, alumni, staff, faculty member, or a community member, please sign the petition and state what your relation to the university is.
The people I think would be able to solve this issue are: Kana Henning, the Associate Vice President for Facilities; Peter Schlecht, the Assistant Vice President for Campus Planning; the Board of Trustees (and Lorraine G. Fitzgerald who is their point person); and Dr. Jo Ann Rooney, Loyola University Chicago President. Please direct your concerns to them. (If you would like to amend or add to this list, let me know.)
Why Loyola? Our ecological responsibility:
- We are a school that prides itself on the Jesuit mission, which includes caring for Creation and Common Home. I do not feel that Loyola upholds this in many aspects, but adding blinds to our dangerous buildings would be a step in the right direction.
- Our lakefront access comes with great responsibility. Lake Michigan's shoreline is an irreplaceable resource for migrating birds during both Fall and Spring migration. In addition, birds migrate at night, and when the sun rises over the lake in the morning, the sky is reflected on our large windowed buildings. You can imagine that it would be difficult for a bird that is flying at migration speed to discern a window from the sky. Our 3-4 story windows on many of our buildings on campus only exacerbate this issue. Our lakefront location is why Loyola is particularly responsible to solve this issue we have created.
I know the lakefront, beautiful architecture, and emphasis on green space was a large factor in my decision to come to Loyola. It's time for Loyola to stop simply cashing in on the benefits of lakefront property, and owning up to the full responsibility that comes with it.
Resources already dedicated to reducing bird collisions on campus:
- An entire class of students is tasked with collecting dead birds every morning.** The program of SOAR (Student Operation for Avian Relief) is run by a class at the Institute of Environmental Sustainability. Students walk through Lakeshore campus at dawn, and record where and when a dead bird is found. The bird is then collected for it’s species to be identified, for immigration and other data analysis. The SOAR program has been advising Loyola of the most problematic buildings since 2012.* Since Damen/Norville center was built in 2014, it was recognized as the most dangerous building on campus.*
- Blinds have been installed on the Klarchek Information Commons. This was one of the most dangerous buildings for birds on campus. Blind instillation has dramatically reduced bird deaths from up to 80 per semester to 2-8.*
- Blinds installed on the Sullivan Center effectively reduced bird deaths as well. Bird deaths declined from 20-30 birds/semester to 2-3.*
- In regard to the new glass sky-walkway that will be installed with the new athletic center: Yes, this will be a walkway one or two stories above the ground connecting the two buildings, and almost completely shrouded in glass. IES professors predicted that this glass structure would be yet another problem for birds on campus, and attempted to work with Facilities staff. Together, they traveled to Northwestern University to explore their solutions to decreasing bird deaths on their campus. However, it is my understanding that despite being shown some very effective solutions, like using darker/less reflective glass, Facilities have intentionally chosen not to use them. Instead, they would like to identify 'problem areas' of the walkway and solve them after construction is complete.
Showing the Facilities staff how important protecting birds with blinds on our existing buildings will encourage them to also take a precautionary step against bird deaths from our next buildings.
The efforts above demonstrate that Loyola University Chicago is aware of this issue. For some reason, likely money and conflict with the LEED certifications we proudly boast to donors and incoming students, Loyola hasn't heeded the concern of our knowledgeable professors and staff. I am hoping this will bring the conversation to the forefront of their minds. As a recent Loyola graduate, I want nothing but the best for a school that embraced me so fully for three years. Please direct your questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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