Some estimate that nearly half a billion birds meet their untimely fate each year when they crash into the side of a towering skyscraper, or die from exhaustion after being mesmerized into flying endless circles by the building's lights. While removing the physical obstacles is out of the question, experts have found that dimming, or darkening, the lights works miracles when it comes to saving our feathered friends (in one study, it reduced bird deaths by 80 percent).

Detroit is located smack in the middle of a migratory bird flight path, and General Motors' Renaissance Center (a group of seven interconnected skyscrapers anchored with a 73-story hotel) poses a large obstacle to the flyers. To help the birds complete their travel unimpeded, General Motors has encouraged its employees to turn off their office lights at night during the spring and fall migrations – an effort that appears to be working. "We haven't seen the bird deaths," said Sue Kelsey, GM's biodiversity manager, yet she adds, "it's prudent and responsible for us to mitigate any potential concern."

In addition to participating in the Project Safe Passage program, GM manages about 2,500 acres of wildlife habitats at more than two dozen of its global sites. "General Motors has been an eager and committed partner of this initiative since its inception," says Fred Charbonneau, Detroit Audubon Society board member.


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  • 29 Comments
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      MistyGreen
      • 1 Year Ago
      why do they leave lights on at night anyway?
      davebo357
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why are they saying only during migration seasons? How about the last person out turns out the light, and the first person in next morning turns it back on? This isn't some ground-level jewelry store you're trying to discourage break-ins, it's a skyscraper. There's a little button on your computer monitor too geniuses. I'm always amazed when I look at office buildings at midnight how many screens I see with the Windows XP logo screensaver. You know what really saves your screens, not leaving them on 24/7.
      johnnythemoney
      • 1 Year Ago
      My question is, why one hell were lights kept on if no one was in there? Not that GM is the only company to do that, still, they shouldn't just "encourage" the employees to turn off the lights when they leave, it should be a pretty obvious thing to do and made mandatory just in case someone likes to leave his lights on when he's not at home. It's like leaving the engine idling during a coffee break at Starbucks., and I've seen people doing it. I thought in that case stealing a car was perfectly legal.
        riserburn99andre
        • 1 Year Ago
        @johnnythemoney
        GM is a global company with employees all over the world. This is their hq so it would be assumed you have people leveraging work in places that still have the sun up. Just a thought
      zbaumel
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wait, so a company bailed out with taxpayer dollars DOESN'T turn their office lights off at night? I wonder what the electricity bill is like. . . . I work at a billion-dollar firm and the light are motion sensitive, auto on/off. Saves the company hundreds of thousands a year.
      lasertekk
      • 1 Year Ago
      Positives: 1. Less bird deaths. 2. Less electricity used means less money spent on overhead. 3. Less electricity used means fewer natural resources wasted. 4. Less electricity used means less pollution from burning something to create the electricity. Negatives: 1. Electric company will bemoan the loss of revenue and raise rates on everyone else to make up for the conservation.
      Stephen Walton
      • 1 Year Ago
      Maybe now the Firebirds will come back from extinction.
      brotherkenny4
      • 1 Year Ago
      Has anyone done a study to find out how many birds die every year from running into trees. Perhaps we need to cut all the trees down too. Windmills and sky scrapers are the bad ones. Cars, not so much, because we need those. Egg robbing weasils (no I am not talking lawyers) and skunks. Domestic cats. It sucks being a bird. Apparently, they do have small brains.
        Rob J
        • 1 Year Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        I don't know any trees with windows...
      Bob
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ahh good ol' GM. The lights are on, but nobody's home.
      lordedardstark1
      • 1 Year Ago
      Survival of the fittest bird IMO.
      mapoftazifosho
      • 1 Year Ago
      Eff the birds...this should be for the taxpayers.
      RobbieAG
      • 1 Year Ago
      Let's all sing kumbaya together...
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