A kid's biology book, devoured when Christine Sheppard was 8 years old, tweaked her interest in science. A professor who helped reestablish the peregrine falcon on the East Coast opened the graduate student's eyes to environmental bird threats. A 1978 internship at the Bronx Zoo's bird department launched her career and led to her latest campaign: reducing bird fatalities caused by collisions with building glass.


In the U.S. alone, panes kill 365 million to 988 million birds annually. "Five percent of buildings are causing 87% of the problem," says Sheppard, the American Bird Conservancy's bird-collisions campaign manager.


A few years back, Sheppard realized that, in terms of rallying forces for change, her most important audience comprises architects, engineers, city planners, building officials, developers, glass makers and facility managers. She soon organized kindred spirits to write the LEED green-building rating system's Pilot Credit 55 for bird-collision deterrence, released in 2011.

"Chris is one of the people who was instrumental in getting this pilot credit into LEED," says Theresa Backhus, LEED sites technical specialist at the U.S. Green Building Council. She also championed the cause in the green-buildings sector, Backhus adds.

Sheppard is currently attacking the bird-kill problem through a project to develop standard test protocols for bird-friendly glass, using a test tunnel built last year at the Bronx Zoo. "It's a painstaking process," says Sheppard. The test protocols are due out next year.

Her next cause will be to get bird-friendly design into building codes. "Buildings shouldn't be killing birds," she says.