Keeping your world up and running.®

Save energy dollars…along with migratory birds

April 2012

Save Energy Dollars…along with Migratory Birds

“There are multiple winners when you turn off unnecessary lights - your wallet, the Toronto Hydro electricity system, and our fine feathered friends,” said Joyce McLean, Directory of Strategic Issues, Toronto Hydro Corporation.

Most migratory bird species are unable to adapt to living in cities. During their biannual flyovers they become confused by the combination of light pollution and the effects of glass in the urban environment, which often results in significant numbers of birds colliding with buildings. This global problem is a major cause of overall population decline for many bird species.

One of the key ways to reduce migratory bird deaths is to reduce light pollution, which will also result in energy savings, lower building operating costs, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Toronto is a world leader in this area: it’s made bird protection an official policy. The city offers Bird-Friendly Development Guidelines, a comprehensive list of development strategies to make new and existing buildings less dangerous to migratory birds. In addition to recommending ways to reduce light pollution, the guidelines recommend design-based development strategies, such as using non-reflective glass, incorporating visual markers, muting reflections, redesigning ventilation grates, and placing internal greenery away from windows. There’s a Bird-Friendly Development Rating System, a checklist for developers, building owners, and building managers to assess their new and existing buildings.

The Lights Out Toronto! program asks individuals to help in these ways:

  • make sure you turn off your office lights when you leave
  • when working late, use task lighting and/or draw your office blinds
  • take similar measures at home

Toronto Hydro Corporation is a strong supporter of the city’s efforts to both protect birds, particularly during migration season, and reduce light pollution. Toronto Hydro president and CEO David O'Brien said, "We’re setting the tone with our customers for responsible use of electricity. This initiative will allow millions of migratory birds safe passage to their summer habitat in the spring, and wintering grounds in the fall. We encourage all our customers to shut their lights off at night to save birds, electricity, and money - all at the same time."