World’s first bird-friendly arena opens

Fiserv Forum
BUILT WITH BIRDS IN MIND: Milwaukee’s new Fiserv Forum is the home of its NBA franchise, the Bucks. Photo: Milwaukee Bucks/Kenny Yoo

You’re already a fan of birds, and by the time you finish this article, you’ll likely also be a fan of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, too.

In a worldwide first, the team’s Fiserv Forum — a new 17,500-seat sports and entertainment arena — has been approved for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program’s Bird Collision Deterrence credit, which was created in partnership with American Bird Conservancy. The arena will receive the LEED Silver® certification.

“The Bucks stepped up for birds in a way that no sports franchise ever has,” says Bryan Lenz, former director of Bird City Wisconsin and current Collision Campaign manager for American Bird Conservancy. “When Bird City Wisconsin approached the team about designing with birds in mind, the proposal was greeted with open arms, which speaks volumes about the character of the Milwaukee Bucks organization.”

Up to 1 billion birds die annually after colliding with glass in the United States, a number that contributes to ongoing declines in bird populations. To address this threat, the new arena features several bird-saving measures, including glass that is visible to birds and programmed lighting that turns off overnight during migration periods. Ongoing efforts include a plan to monitor the arena for window collisions, in partnership with the Wisconsin Humane Society.

 “Bird City Wisconsin came to us three years ago to educate us on migration and best practices,” said Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin. “We were able to integrate many of their suggestions in the design phase of the project.” 

The Bucks’ ownership took other steps to reduce the arena’s environmental footprint, including landscaping with native plants, implementing a composting program, and banning plastic straws and other petroleum products. A number of organizations played critical roles in the process, including the Bucks’ leadership, architectural, construction, and consulting firms, Bird City Wisconsin, and American Bird Conservancy.

“The Milwaukee Bucks have demonstrated outstanding conservation leadership and shown that it is possible to build a world-class facility with birds in mind,” Lenz says. “We hope that their example will inspire others to take action.”

Large buildings such as Fiserv Forum are important, yet homes and low-rise buildings account for the majority of bird collisions. Readers who are inspired to make their windows safer for birds can do so with little expense and effort. Visit birdsmartglass.org to learn more.

A version of this article appears in the January/February 2019 issue of BirdWatching magazine. Subscribe

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American Bird Conservancy

American Bird Conservancy

American Bird Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. It contributes the “Eye on Conservation” column in each issue of BirdWatching.

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