Turn Off the Lights, Not Just for the Birds

NOVA’s newer buildings tend to have numerous windows to allow reduced usage of interior lights during the daytime, referred to as “day-lighting.” Unfortunately, studies have shown that the combination of clear glass and lighting can be lethal to birds.

“During the daytime, birds collide with windows because they see reflections of the landscape in the glass (e.g., clouds, sky, vegetation, or the ground); or they see through glass to perceived habitat (including potted plants or vegetation inside buildings) or to the sky on the other side. At night, birds can be attracted to lighted structures resulting in collisions, entrapment, excess energy expenditure, and exhaustion (Manville 2009).” (US Fish and Wildlife Service 2016)

NOVA Facilities and Planning started a large-scale project last year to convert all interior and exterior lights to Light Emitting Diode (LED) products for increased safety and visibility, improved light quality, energy efficiency, and fewer long-term maintenance requirements.

Along with reducing the amount of energy used, an added benefit of this lighting improvement project addresses the nighttime concern by allowing the adjustment of light levels in specific areas to reduce the impact on birds. Simply turning off the lights at night also saves the College energy and money, extends lamp life, and reduces bird strikes, especially during the fall and winter months.

Another concern with numerous windows is the reflection of the surrounding environment. At the Woodbridge Campus, because of its orientation and when the sun and sky are just right, the windows on the WAS building reflect the lake. Because of how their eyes work, this reflection makes birds think they have a clear flight path and has resulted in a number of bird strikes and deaths. To minimize and hopefully eliminate this, NOVA Facilities is applying special decals to the glass to provide more contrast to the birds’ visual spectrum. While they look almost transparent to the human eye, these decals will help the birds distinguish a clear flight path from a barrier and prevent them from running into the glass.

More information about NOVA’s on-going efforts to save energy and mitigate our environmental impact is available at www.nvcc.edu/facilities-planning.

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