Glass specialist Arnold Glas has launched a new type of glazing in the UK which the company says will save the lives of birds.
The German company has developed Ornilux glass, which is more visible to birds and could solve the problem of millions of them dying each migration season by flying into glazed buildings.
The Prince of Wales launched the glass as it was installed in the lookout tower and visitor centre on Holy Island, Lindisfarne.
“The project at Lindisfarne is our first use of the bird-saving, or Ornilux, glass in the UK,” said Dave Wyatt, head of the Arnold Group’s UK operations.
“It’s a system that has been in development for years, and through extensive testing we have seen the glazing significantly reduce bird strikes.
“Ornilux has already seen considerable success in the US, being used in a number of high-profile buildings and winning a number of international awards.
“We are now keen to see the UK adopt a similarly progressive approach to protect bird populations.”
Ornilux is part of a new movement in bio-mimicry, where science and art emulates nature’s best biological ideas to solve human problems.
Birds, unlike humans, have the ability to see light in the ultra-violet spectrum. Orb Weaver spiders, for instance, incorporate UV reflective strands of silk in their webs so birds will not fly through and destroy them.
Like the Orb Weaver web, the Ornilux glazing has a web of lines coated onto the glass which are barely discernible to humans but reflect the UV light, alerting birds to the presence of glass.
“Considering the native bird populations on Holy Island, we were really keen to ensure that the buildings would be great for visitors, but also have minimum impact on the natural environment,” said Euan Millar, director of Icosis, the architects behind the Lindisfarne project.
“With so much glass in the tower we were concerned with birds striking the glazing in particular.
“The Ornilux product should help to protect the birds and ensure the native wildlife is unaffected by the new visitor facility.”
The manufacturer of Ornilux, the Arnold Group, is a specialist in several glazing ranges including bird protection glass, vacuum heat insulation glass, solar control glass and structural glass façades.
“Birds do not see glass and as a result we're seeing billions of bird deaths each year, with glazed buildings being a major contributor to overall decline in bird populations,” said Natalie Kopp from Arnold Glas.
“It’s estimated that in just one day in Europe 250,000 birds die from collisions with glass, so we are keen to see developers and architects start looking at ways of being more bird-friendly with their buildings.”