Your Comprehensive Guide to BREEAM Certification & Bike Storage


Sustainability is slowly on its way to becoming a true cornerstone of urban development. In the current landscape, BREEAM stands out as one of the most well-known frameworks for assessing and certifying buildings' environmental performance. Established in the UK, BREEAM is the world's longest established method of assessing, rating, and certifying buildings' sustainability. Its influence extends across various sectors, shaping the way buildings are designed, constructed, refurbished and managed.

As cities strive to reduce their carbon footprint and promote healthier lifestyles, incorporating sustainable transport solutions has gained significant importance. Among these, bike storage facilities have emerged as a critical component, encouraging the use of bicycles as a mode of transport and lowering car dependence. This is where the goals of active travel align with the broader goals of BREEAM, which emphasises the importance of sustainable transport in urban planning.

Our BREEAM guide aims to explain the basics of the framework and the important role of bike storage within it, focusing on its significance in the context of the UK's sustainable building landscape. By examining the specific criteria for bike storage, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of how cycle parking provisions can contribute to achieving BREEAM certification and promoting sustainability. By the end of this guide, we aim to underscore the importance of integrating robust bike storage and end-of-trip facilities in BREEAM-certified buildings and inspire future projects to prioritise this crucial aspect of sustainable design.

1. What Is BREEAM?

BREEAM - Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, is one of the oldest methods for assessing how sustainable a development is. It was created in 1990 by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), a former national research lab, to streamline the assessment, rating, and certifying of buildings. The idea was that by compiling a clear list of science-based benchmarks, metrics, and indices across a range of environmental topics, owners, architects, and designers would have an easier time determining how to build sustainably.

Throughout the years, BREEAM has been regularly updated and improved. In its current form, it covers both new-builts and refurbishments and has expanded its scope beyond the construction process to include the whole life cycle of buildings, from foundation to ongoing use.

To do the assessment, a BREEAM assessor would look at various factors like the design's low impact and carbon emissions, whether the project was built with durability, resilience, and climate change in mind, whether it helps ecological and biodiversity protection, and so on. The framework evaluates a building's performance in several set categories, all of which have different weightings depending on their environmental significance.

- What Are The BREEAM Categories And Assessment Criteria?

BREEAM assesses the sustainability of buildings across several categories. These categories cover a wide range of environmental and sustainability issues. Here is a list of the primary BREEAM categories for assessment:

It would be best if you also thought of ease of access in terms of surfaces. Cyclists may be wearing cycling shoes, often leading to problems walking on slippy surfaces. Therefore smooth tiles and polished concrete should be avoided, and slip-resistant flooring such as resin or mixed-in aggregate flooring should be chosen to ensure user safety.

Management: The first category assesses the management process used during construction and the handover. It establishes whether sustainable practices were used in design and management, procurement, and the actual construction phases. This category tries to establish whether there is an effective handover procedure at the end of the construction phase to ensure the building will operate as intended.

Health & Well-being: This covers things like indoor air quality via ventilation and pollutant controls, thermal comfort with an appropriate cooling/heating system, lighting that is either natural or artificial, and the control of noise pollution. The health category also includes assessing whether the building is accessible and inclusive.

Water: Responsible resource consumption is naturally a big part of the framework. Water recycling and consumption reduction are some of the criteria that would give you points if done correctly. The framework also establishes whether there are things like good leak detection and water monitoring systems in place to further reduce the wasteful consumption of important resources in buildings.

Energy: Similarly, like with water, energy is another big one. This category measures how efficient the energy usage of the building is, with the aim of reducing the use and the greenhouse gasses that energy production and consumption leads to. BREEAM assessors would be looking for low or zero-carbon technologies like implementing renewable energy sources, good insulation for reducing heat loss and energy consumption and monitoring systems to help manage energy use better.

Materials: This category ensures that the materials used during construction have a lower environmental impact and are sustainably sourced, durable or recycled where possible. This covers everything from how the materials are sourced, transported, maintained, installed, and eventually disposed of. The framework also encourages minimal material waste and optimising use.

Land use & ecology: This section covers things like land management and site selection with a minimal environmental impact. It aims to encourage sustainable practices around habitat and biodiversity protection.

Pollution: Being an eco-friendly initiative the BREEAM assessment, naturally, puts an emphasis on minimising pollution – both from construction activities and operations. The criteria cover things like light, noise, air and water pollution, the use of certain harmful refrigerants and the responsible management of surface water run-off to prevent flooding and pollution.

Waste: This category assesses the waste management strategies in place, which should aim to reduce pollution both during the construction phase and subsequent operations. There is an emphasis on reducing, recycling, and reusing materials and the provision of adequate waste storage and recycling facilities to make that easier once the building is in use.

Innovation: The Innovation category gives credits for the use of innovative practices and technologies that improve a building's sustainability ratings. Here, you would find solutions that may be unconventional and not covered in other categories but which are nonetheless helpful in minimising a building's carbon footprint and working towards other sustainability goals.

Resources: The Resources category focuses on the efficient use and management of resources throughout the building's life cycle. It encompasses sustainable sourcing, waste management, and material efficiency.

Resilience: The Resilience category addresses a building's ability to adapt to and withstand environmental changes, such as climate change and other potential risks. It includes measures to ensure the building's long-term durability and adaptability.

Transport: The transport category strongly encourages the use of alternative transport and the overall reduction of the reliance on cars. The focus here is on public transport and active travel like cycling and walking, all of which have lower carbon footprints than car journeys. A building which does well in this category will be expected to have good public transport access and proximity to public transport networks; to provide secure bike storage like racks, stands or shelters, ideally with adequate end-of-trip facilities like showers and changing rooms; and to have safe routes for people walking or cycling.

These categories and criteria ensure a holistic approach to building sustainability, addressing environmental, social, and economic impacts throughout the building's life cycle. BREEAM certification encourages developers and designers to consider a wide range of factors to create more sustainable, efficient, and comfortable buildings.

- Certification Levels And What They Signify

The certification process includes the assessment of a building in accordance with all of the above categories. To achieve it successfully, a project must meet a certain standard and earn a certain score in each category. There are several certification levels:

Outstanding: Achieving 85% or more. Represents the highest level of sustainability performance. Buildings achieving an Outstanding rating are exemplary sustainability models, incorporating innovative practices and achieving exceptional results across all assessment categories. This level reflects a profound commitment to environmental stewardship and sets a benchmark for best practices in the industry.

Excellent: Scoring 70% to 85% indicates outstanding sustainability performance. Buildings with an Excellent rating have implemented advanced sustainability measures and are at the forefront of environmental design and management. This level demonstrates a significant commitment to achieving high sustainability standards.

Very Good: A score between 55% and 70% signifies a high standard of sustainability performance. Buildings achieving this level are considered to have incorporated comprehensive sustainability practices and measures, reflecting a strong commitment to reducing environmental impact and improving occupant well-being.

Good: A 45% to 55% score represents a reasonable sustainability standard. Buildings at this level have demonstrated better-than-average performance in key sustainability areas, showing a greater commitment to environmental and social responsibilities.

Pass: Scoring between 30% and 45% indicates that the building has met the basic level of sustainability standards. It signifies a modest commitment to sustainable practices but highlights areas where improvements are necessary to enhance environmental performance.

Unclassified: Buildings that have achieved less than 30% and do not meet the minimum standards required for BREEAM certification. These buildings have not demonstrated sufficient performance in sustainability criteria and have not received a formal certification.

- Summary of BREEAM Certification Levels

Certification LevelScore RangeSignificance
Unclassified< 30%Does not meet minimum standards
Pass≥ 30% and < 45%Basic level of sustainability
Good≥ 45% and < 55%Reasonable standard of sustainability
Very Good≥ 55% and < 70%High standard of sustainability
Excellent≥ 70% and < 85%Outstanding sustainability performance
Outstanding≥ 85%Highest level of sustainability performance

2. What Are The Benefits Of Having A BREEAM Certification?

There is a growing awareness of the importance of protecting and preserving the environment, and the impact climate change is having on our planet. In this vein, it is becoming increasingly valuable to build buildings that comply with an increasing number of sustainability regulations. Although these are not universally applied and many schemes are voluntary, that is slowly changing. Many governments and local authorities are implementing building policies to encourage developments to contribute to wider sustainability goals.

In addition to the regulatory argument for it, there are further economic benefits to making a building development as green as possible and BREEAM certified; increasingly investors, stakeholders, clients and tenants want to see green credentials and sustainability strategies in place before they invest, buy or rent. Certification like this increases property value and can lead to higher rental premiums. Green credentials are also becoming a way to appeal to environmentally conscious tenants, employees, and investors, enhancing marketability and occupancy rates. Lastly, there are obvious cost savings regarding energy and water-efficiency strategies, which are at the core of BREEAM criteria and lead to savings over the building's life cycle.

Having a sustainable building also means a reduced carbon footprint and a multitude of environmental benefits. By complying with the BREEAM requirements for lower energy consumption, use of sustainable materials, efficient water management, and intelligent waste reduction and recycling, a building project is a welcome contributor to the fight against climate change.

Furthermore, BREEAM-certified buildings have improved indoor work and living environments, giving occupants a higher quality of life by creating healthier and more comfortable spaces. This leads to better living and working standards, making users more satisfied and productive.

BREEAM certification provides significant regulatory and compliance benefits. One of the primary advantages is future-proofing. Buildings that achieve BREEAM certification are designed to meet current and anticipated regulatory requirements, thereby reducing the risks associated with potential future legislation. This proactive approach ensures that buildings remain compliant with evolving environmental standards and regulations, mitigating legal and financial risks for owners and developers.

Achieving BREEAM certification significantly enhances market and brand recognition. Organisations that attain this certification are seen as leaders in sustainability and innovation, setting them apart from their competitors. This distinction can be particularly valuable in industries where environmental responsibility is increasingly important to consumers, investors, and other stakeholders. BREEAM certification serves as a testament to an organisation's commitment to sustainability, bolstering its corporate social responsibility profile.

3. What Is The Importance Of Sustainable Transport And Active Travel

Sustainable transport is a crucial component of urban development and environmental stewardship, and plays an important role within the BREEAM framework. The Transport assessment category focuses on reducing the environmental impact of transport associated with buildings by giving points for encouraging the use of public transport and active travel as a way to reduce daily greenhouse gas emissions.

Transport, road transport in particular, is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to air pollution and climate change. A fifth of the UK's total emissions are due to cars and trucks on our roads. By promoting sustainable transport options such as cycling, walking, and public transportation through integrated storage and facilities, BREEAM helps reduce the carbon footprint of buildings. Even if only a portion of all commuting adults leave their cars at home to get to work, this would still have a sizable impact on GHGs, air pollution and traffic.

Furthermore, encouraging active transport models like cycling, walking, or scooting has substantial health benefits. More physical activity and less car dependency would help us tackle both the looming climate issues and the increasing number of bad health outcomes stemming from most people's sedentary lifestyle – such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Public Health England has estimated that physical inactivity is a direct contributing factor to one in six deaths every year. Tight schedules, long commutes, and myriad competing demands leave little time for most people to exercise, which makes active travel a great solution to two problems. It can fit seamlessly into our lives, help us get our health on track, and contribute to lowering our carbon footprint.

Sustainable transport can also lead to economic advantages, which shouldn't be overlooked. Reducing the dependence on private cars can lower transportation costs for individuals and decrease the need for extensive car parking infrastructure, freeing up valuable urban space for other uses. Efficient public transport systems and well-designed cycling infrastructure can enhance property values and attract businesses and residents who prioritise sustainability. Moreover, reducing congestion and improving mobility can boost productivity.

Sustainable transport options like cycling, walking and public transport, all encouraged in the BREEAM framework, ensure that mobility is accessible to all segments of society, including those who do not own cars. By providing robust public transport links and safe, convenient cycling and walking routes, BREEAM-certified developments promote social inclusion and equity. This accessibility enables everyone, regardless of their socio-economic status, to access employment, education, and services, fostering more inclusive communities.

4. What Does BREEAM Say About Bikes and Bike Storage?

Although bike racks and stands may look like simple products, their integration into buildings has far-reaching effects. The ripple they create can be felt across various fields—from employee well-being to cleaner air on our streets. But what does BREEAM say specifically about cycle parking?

There are currently 9 credits that can be awarded for the Transport section. Two of them are for bike storage facilities. One credit can be achieved for having BREEAM-approved bike storage, and an additional one can be awarded if you go the extra mile and have good bike-ready end-of-trip facilities.

- BREEAM Criteria for Bike Storage

Due to the variation of site conditions and products on the market, assessors are less prescriptive about dimensions or types of cycle parking. As the BREEAM Knowledge Base says, "BREEAM is used to certify buildings, not products. Cycle parking systems cannot, therefore, be considered inherently 'BREEAM compliant". These must be assessed in context with reference to their location and the intended user profile."

However, there are some criteria that they do need to cover as a minimum, like:

Provision of Adequate Bike Storage:

  • Sufficient number of secure cycle parking spaces per number of people using the building. This would be different depending on the size, use and occupancy levels. For example, residential buildings would have a different storage requirement compared to office buildings.
  • Bike storage needs to be secure but also accessible to everyone. If cycle storage is accessible through a staircase, the assessor needs to be satisfied that it is still easily accessible for all users.
  • It should ideally be located in a prominent location easily seen by users, or if it is further away, there needs to be enough clear signage leading to it.
  • Providing storage only for folding bicycles and scooters is not enough to earn compliance, and neither is using already existing public parking spaces.

Quality of Bike Storage:

  • The bike storage needs to be sheltered and weather-proof to protect from the elements.
  • It should be with a user friendly design with enough space between racks or stands to allow for easy access and storage.

Security Measures:

  • The bike storage should provide security by allowing both wheels and frame to be secured to the rack, floor or wall.
  • The bike rack or shelter is to be fixed to a permanent structure.
  • Adequate lighting should ideally be provided so that it is safe and easy to use at all times of the day.

The extra credits available for end-of-trip facilities can be earned if you have at least 2 of the following:

  • Showers (1 for every 10 bike spaces)
  • Changing facilities and lockers
  • Drying facilities for clothes

By meeting these criteria, buildings can enhance their sustainability credentials under BREEAM, promoting cycling as a viable and attractive transport option. This contributes to environmental benefits and the health of building occupants, aligning with broader sustainability goals.

5. Are Our Bike Storage Products BREEAM-Certified or BREEAM-Compliant?

You may have read claims about products being BREEAM-certified or BREEAM-compliant. However, the short answer is – there is no such thing as a BREEAM-certified or inherently BREEAM-compliant bike rack or stand.

No individual bike storage product can be BREEAM certified. BREEAM certification applies to buildings and large-scale projects rather than individual products. BREEAM assessors are aware that different projects have varied conditions like site, space and use and that there are many products on the market. This means that assessors aren’t that prescriptive about specific products, dimensions or types of cycle parking. Instead, your cycle storage is assessed in a larger context with reference to its location, user profile and so on.

For your bike parking area to meet the BREEAM requirements, you must comply with criteria related to security, accessibility and capacity (see previous section for more details). Some of this will come from the type of rack - the bike storage solutions you have implemented must allow for bikes to be secured in two places, both wheel and frame. However, other criteria like accessibility don’t entirely depend on the racks themselves but rather on the location of your bike storage area. For example, it would matter whether there are stairs to climb or the location is prominent enough and easy to find. Meanwhile, the criteria for capacity simply depend on buying the correct number of racks relative to your occupancy rates. None of these criteria works in isolation and the compliance calculation is more complicated than “BREEAM-compliant racks”.

For example, our two-tier bike racks are extremely secure and comply with the two-point locking system requirement. However, if you install only five of them at the back of your large office building car park, far away from your entrance, without any signs to help with wayfinding and without a shelter over them, your bike parking will not meet the assessors’ criteria regardless of how good the racks themselves are.

Final Thoughts

The benefits of BREEAM certification are primarily focused on sustainability but they extend beyond the obvious environmental advantages. Economic benefits such as increased property value, operational savings, and enhanced marketability make BREEAM certification valuable for developers, investors, and occupants. Furthermore, the improved indoor environments and health benefits associated with sustainable buildings contribute to higher levels of occupant satisfaction and productivity.

An important component of getting your development or existing building BREEAM-certified is to take into account one of the key aspects of the framework - sustainable transport and active travel. Including bike storage facilities within the BREEAM criteria highlights the importance of providing practical infrastructure to support sustainable transport options. By encouraging the use of bicycles and reducing reliance on cars, BREEAM-certified buildings contribute to lowering carbon emissions, improving air quality, and promoting healthier lifestyles.

Integrating robust, secure, accessible, and well-designed bike storage solutions and end-of-trip facilities make cycling a convenient and attractive option for building occupants and is an important step for achieving sustainability goals. By adhering to BREEAM criteria, developers can create buildings that meet high environmental performance standards and support healthier, more sustainable lifestyles. This guide underscores the importance of bike storage in the broader context of sustainable urban development, inspiring future projects to prioritise this essential design aspect. We can build a greener, healthier, and more resilient future through continued commitment to sustainability.