The semester is almost over and I am getting excited for our class to present our project next Friday to Don Gorney and the others who will be there to learn about what we’ve done this semester. I am not a speaker, but I have been working on some design ideas and of course, the Outreach section of the report. Our advisor in this project, Marjorie, is helping to compile the work of all the groups. I think our report will turn out to be very beneficial to LOI. I’ve learned more this year about ecology, conservation, and being green in an urban setting than I ever have before from my involvement in the practicum, the herbarium work over the summer, and taking Ecology — all here at Butler. I understand these subjects so much better now, and I appreciate the help that Marjorie and the rest of the faculty at Butler have given me. I also think our class has developed a greater appreciation for the business side of things, rather than just the research that Biology students are usually focused on. We’re thinking about more than just our own educational advancement by being more concerned with how others view these issues and what we can do to educate.
Interestingly enough, I was checking my gmail the other day and there was a link for LEED Exam Prep Training on the top of the page. I decided to click the link and it brought me to a page about LEED Exam Preparation courses. I wasn’t aware there was an actual LEED Credential that people could acquire for their resumes, but as the site states, “The LEED AP designation is a highly sought-after credential by professionals in environmental sustainability roles, as well as law, real estate and other areas”. I always thought it was a rating system for buildings, but it turns out professionals can get LEED accreditation as well. I was certain architects and others in the construction profession had to have heard of this, so I wondered how many are actually certified. I went to the GBCI (Green Building Certification Institute) directory and found that there are 142,266 names of LEED Professionals. How cool is it that anyone can get this credential just by taking a test? If I were an architect or involved in building design, I would definitely be interested in this!
With a new season coming upon us, it is easy to forget about migration in this time. In the winter seasons, the birds migrate south for more resources that are abundant. However, the winter season could be a great opportunity for LOI to promote its program. Although volunteer work is not needed to find dead birds through out the community, they are needed in helping promote LOI. During this time it would be necessary to go to building managers and talk to them about LOI. A good statistic to show the building owner would be the amount of energy saved throughout migration periods as compared to non-migrating times. Although energy does not concern many building managers, the money which would be saved would greatly affect their decision. A quantitative study would be useful from November to March to show the costs of Lighting as compared to migrating times, where the building turns off their lights from midnight till dawn, thus indicating the amount of money saved by joining the program. Most research for LOI involves the migrating months, however, these winter months could be used to advance LOI. LOI can be promoted throughout the whole year rather than just advertised largely during the migrating months. This would help greatly increase the amount of supporters for LOI. Migration only happens approximately 5 months out of the year, but using the other 7 months setting up volunteer opportunities would be greatly appreciated by the community.
One of my interview subjects was Mr. Mark Zelonis, a representative of the IMA, which is a current participant in LOI. He was able to offer me some great insight on the program and how it affects the IMA and their stakeholders. I think the interviews being conducted by the building management group will prove very useful in LOI’s outreach to potential participants in the future. Both the IMA and the downtown library are recognizable buildings that have a lot of patrons every year. If potential participants hear positive feedback from these institutions, they will see the true benefits of jumping onboard. It is very important to remember that one cannot have too much incentive to join this program. Some targets may take more convincing than others, and any LOI representative must be as ready as possible to urge targets to become participants. With this input, and the other groups’ efforts, the future of LOI is looking very bright!
Thanksgiving break was exactly the recharge I needed. It gave me time to gather my bearings and catch up on all the work I have before the approaching finals. While at home I was asked by various relatives and friends about my classes and almost everyone was so intrigued to hear about the practicum more than anything else. They had never heard of a class like this and were so amazed at the great potential the class had. In addition, all of their responses were quite typical. They, like me before this class, had no idea that bird strikes were such an issue. I told them all about LOI and how our class was trying to help. This showed me firsthand how necessary it is to spread our goals out into the public. Overall I had a great time discussing this with my family and I think I really got them to understand how anyone can help make a difference with just some subtle changes.
I got to go to my Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving. She LOVES birds, and her house is always decorated with tons of bird sculptures and trinkets. Her Christmas tree always has bird ornaments. So as I sat at the table after eating a turkey for dinner and spoke to my aunt about the practicum, I could see Grandma listening with interest from the couch. I was eager to hear what she had to say, but didn’t think I would get anything out of her other than a joke about birdbrains. Then, when I was talking about LOI and how the lights of buildings attract birds to cities, Grandma spoke.
“Who decided that?”
“Who decided what, Grandma?”
“Who decided that birds are attracted to lights? Did they ask a bird?”
“Some researchers did. They found that building lights disorient the birds and that causes them to get off track when they’re migrating.”
It seems as though even a bird lover was not believing it. I did my job to trying to convince her it was real, but I’m still not sure how much she believed me. My aunt brought up the bird brain joke, saying birds are dumb and there isn’t really anything we can do about that. I told them that’s why we need to help them, but she proceeded to go on and on about how one of her cats brought her home a frozen bird and the subject of LOI was done.
If we’re going to get people to participate, we have to make them believe. In the next few weeks, the Outreach group will be doing some things to increase awareness of the our window strike theory. One of these things is making a short film that let’s you see a window strike from a bird’s perspective. I am looking forward to filming this soon.
I recently arrived back on campus after a very relaxing break and preparing for the final three weeks of the semester. As the end of our project approaches, I have tried to finish up any new brainstorming or ideas for LOI and start the shift into producing the finished product. As you know, I am working with the outreach group and after exploring different methods of outreach; I believe that I have found a very effective tool for LOI.
For a long time I have heard about LinkedIn however, I never really used it or fully understood it’s capabilities. LinkedIn is a professional business network that allows for users to connect with colleagues (past and present), to ask questions and explore opportunities with other businesses, experts and colleagues. For example, LOI could ask questions to other conservation groups and even other groups that have the same purpose. Beyond asking questions, it is possible for LOI to recruit businesses that would support them. They could use LinkedIn as a method to contact businesses and buildings in the Indianapolis area and educate them about LOI. I just created an account (its very quick and simple) to explore some of these options and to generally get a better feel for the website. There are two different options for profiles, one free and one about 25 dollars a month. There are many more options with the paid profile and is something that should be considered by LOI.
Overall, I am very excited to be nearing the end of the project. I think that we have and will produce a very good end product that will hopefully bring LOI closer to success.
Over the break I have really had time to relax and do some casual reading. The design group plans on deriving a regional LEED point on using bird friendly design techniques. I have spent quite a bit of time on the LEED website (http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CategoryID=19) and have had a difficult time navigating and understanding some of the information. For example regional credits are broken down per state, then per zip code, then to a number on an excel spreadsheet. There is no information about what the numbers mean or where to find out what the numbers mean. This is just a personal frustration…
However, there are many other problems with the website. If I weren’t taking this class and had a general understanding about what LEED and the USGBC are I think it could be difficult to understand what they are based on the information provided on the website. I’m sure it is an invaluable resource to those who know what the information is and where to access it, but to those who don’t it is a completely different story. I think more attention should be paid to making a more public-friendly website with more basic information and how to get involved. For example, architects and building contractors who aren’t familiar with the LEED initiatives have a difficult understanding the incentive or understanding the regional LEED credits.
Perhaps mapping out a new website could be a concept for a future practicum project. I’m fairly confident if you poll America an overwhelming majority of citizens would not have heard of the LEED initiative and even less could understand what it is. A great effort is needed in educating the public in these areas…hopefully our effort will be effective in creating awareness for other programs as well as help LOI.