The new Bell Museum will have special windows to save birds and energy

There's a special pattern printed on the windows to help birds see it.
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The University of Minnesota's new Bell Museum of Natural History will be bird-safe. At least in terms of its windows.

Judging by photos the U has shared with GoMN, the new building is going to have some large glass windows. So the university is using a special patterned glass to conserve energy and protect birds.

The glass features screen printed line or dot patterns – that's known as fritted glass. The dots help block out some sun – preventing to much heat from being transferred to the building.

The dots also help birds to see the glass.

"Birds don’t understand glass the same way people do. They fly towards habitat or sky reflected in or seen through windows, often with fatal consequences, the U says.

Building designers worked with Audubon Minnesota – a bird conservation group – to figure out the best way to go about this. Together, they figured out the best pattern to use, and how to source the best low reflectivity glasses.

So the new Bell Museum will be less than 30 percent glass on the exterior – all of which will be fritted.

There's more to protecting birds than having patterned glass. Project designer Doug Bergert says they also had to think about things like interior and exterior lights, as well as landscape design.

The Bell Museum used to be in Minneapolis, but it closed in December. The new facility is in St. Paul, and it's set to open the summer of 2018. The $79 million project will feature expanded galleries, interactive exhibitions, and a 120-seat digital domed planetarium.

Buildings and birds

Between 365 and 988 million birds fatally fly into buildings every year in the U.S., according to 2014 research by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

Audubon has a Lights Out campaign every spring and fall that urges people and businesses to commit to turning out lights during migratory seasons. Minneapolis is one of the cities participating.

The group has criticized U.S. Bank Stadium for basically being a giant death trap for birds.

According to a study Audubon conducted, 74 birds crashed into the building during the fall migratory season (Aug. 14 to Nov. 7). Sixty of those died. The society notes it believes the actual number to be a lot higher.

For comparison, the study notes the highest mortality recorded for a single building in Minnesota prior to this averaged about 42 birds.

The group has recommended the Bank take steps to be more bird friendly. One of those steps includes adding patterns to windows.

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