Building for the Birds

Fiserv Forum photo by PepsiWithCoke / Wikimedia.

I love birds, and I also love the NBA. Even better, I love when the NBA and birding give me an excuse to write a blog post.

What does the NBA have to do with birding? a person might wonder. (Well, besides the bird mascots—and I forgive any birder who, when they hear Toronto Raptors, envisions a different animal.) In the case of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, their “nest,” Fiserv Forum, is a bird-friendly study in community, cooperation, and conservation—not to mention home of the 2021 NBA champions! While watching Finals coverage this week, I was reminded of Fiserv Forum’s pioneering example of sustainable design.

What’s LEED?

In 2018, Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, became the country’s first LEED Silver-certified venue for professional sports. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification is granted by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This nonprofit, founded in 1993, champions sustainability in building design, construction, and operation. To qualify for LEED certification, a project is assigned a third-party team that uses a scorecard system to oversee the certification process. Points are awarded for sustainable building characteristics, such as reduced parking footprint, rainwater management, and renewable energy production.

The Johnson Controls Entrance at the new Fiserv Forum Arena. Photo by Shutterstock.

Why a Bird-Friendly Sports Arena?

Fiserv Forum was the first professional sports arena to receive a credit in the LEED scorecard system for bird collision deterrence. Located on Lake Michigan’s western shore, Milwaukee is positioned along a migratory flyway. Knowing this, Bird City Wisconsin, a Wisconsin not-for-profit that encourages bird-conservation practices through its Bird City program, appealed to the Milwaukee Bucks organization to incorporate bird-friendly considerations into their new arena design.

What’s So Bird-Friendly about Fiserv Forum?

Fortunately for Bird City Wisconsin, not to mention birds and birders, the Bucks’ ownership was receptive to the design ideas, and invited one of Bird City Wisconsin’s members to represent the bird-friendly building perspective at planning meetings for the next three years. The highest priority? Ensuring that the windows of the massive new building were designed to reduce bird collisions. To achieve this, builders used fritting in glass panes. Fritting is a specialized ceramic coating pattern that reduces reflectivity while allowing glass to maintain its transparency. Birds in flight are able to detect the fritting and adjust mid-flight to avoid a window collision.

In addition, the venue’s exterior lighting projects downward, making it less likely to confuse birds in flight at night. A lights-out policy at Fiserv Forum during spring and fall migration helps protect migratory birds from becoming disoriented during their journeys.

All of these factors add up to a win-win for both the arena and the birds. Congratulations to the Bucks on their championship win—and for being a champion for the birds!

This northern parula died following a collision with a building. Bird-friendly building practices can prevent window collisions. Photo by Shutterstock.

Learn more about the bird-friendly Fiserv Forum:

The World’s Dangerous for Birds – Fiserv Forum Makes It a Little Safer

Fiserv Forum Is the World’s First Bird-Friendly Arena

The Milwaukee Bucks Have the Most Bird-Friendly Stadium in the NBA

How the Milwaukee Bucks’ New Arena Became the “World’s First Bird-Friendly Arena”

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