A verdict handed down in Toronto establishes that building owners and managers must take action to prevent their buildings’ windows from causing excessive death or injury to migratory birds.
Canadian nonprofit Ecojustice filed charges against Cadillac Fairview, owners of Toronto’s Yonge Corporate Centre, claiming that the three buildings’ highly reflective windows caused the deaths of more than 800 birds in 2010, including threatened species. In the trial, which began in April 2012, Ecojustice accused Cadillac Fairview of violating the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), which prohibit the discharge of contaminants harmful to wildlife.
Ecojustice charged that “contaminants harmful to wildlife” should be interpreted to include reflected light that confuses birds or lures them toward reflected sky or trees, resulting in collisions and injury or death. Judge Melvyn Green of the Ontario Court of Justice ruled the interpretation valid, meaning that the Ontario Ministry of Environment will now regulate buildings reflecting light that leads to bird fatalities.
Judge Green acquitted the company of the charges, however, because it has already taken steps to mitigate the problem by installing window films on the sides of the buildings with the highest bird fatalities and has committed to retrofitting the rest.
Copyright 2013 by BuildingGreen Inc.