Specifying Green Roofs on External Bike Stores to Support Biodiversity and Active Travel
The UK’s average cycling mileage per year has been gradually increasing since 1993, rising to 4.2bn miles in 2021. Combined with a reduction in annual mileage by UK motorists, this demonstrates that individuals are increasingly choosing a sustainable and cost-effective means of transport, fostered through a conscious effort to promote sustainability through urban planning.
While the UK seeks to encourage cycling uptake, the provision of reliable, secure bike storage remains a crucial linchpin. As urban landscapes evolve, and in a pursuit of a greener future, specifying green roofs on external bike stores provides significant value for developments, helping to support a demand for secure bike storage, promoting greening principles in urban spaces, and enabling increased biodiversity.
While leisure continues to be the main driver for active travel in the UK, Data analysed by Cycling UK for 2022 revealed that significantly more people have turned to utility cycling as a convenient mode of sustainable transport, largely in response to rising fuel prices and disruptions to public transport, with levels rising by 47% on weekdays and by 27% on weekends.
This rise has also been encouraged by a greater emphasis on implementing sustainability strategies and methodical urban planning, with the significant example of this being Active Travel England. The £32.9m Government scheme was introduced in January 2023, forming an aspect of the UK Government’s 10-Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
While cities and towns seek to establish better bike lanes to make cycling safer and more accessible, the provision of secure bike parking facilities has often been overlooked or integrated as something of an afterthought. A recent research report found that up to 1.5m cyclists are deterred from commuting via bike due to the lack of secure storage facilities at their workplaces.
Most new developments in the UK do require provisions for bike parking, with planning decision notices containing conditions for both the type and number of bike parking spaces required to pass. Setting the standard for best practices in sustainable development is BREEAM, which aims to reduce the negative impacts of construction and development on the environment. Transportation is a key factor in BREEAM accreditation, and assessments actively take notice of how alternative forms of transportation that promote sustainable and eco-friendly practice are implemented. BREEAM compliant bike storage is assessed in context with reference to its location and the intended user profile.
All new developments within England are also now obligated to deliver measurable Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), which was implemented primarily to protect natural habitats from land developments and sustain biodiversity outputs in the UK for the long-term. All new planning applications are required to demonstrate how their operation will leave the biodiversity of a site in a measurably improved state than in pre-development, with these changes set to be enforced in January 2024.
Moreover, Plan Policy G5 is a recently implemented scheme from the Greater London Authority, requiring all major new developments in the capital to improve the provision of green infrastructure by integrating urban greening as a fundamental aspect of site and building design. Enabling benefits such as enhanced biodiversity and reduction of the urban heat island effect, urban greening can be used to help meet other policy requirements, and it’s advised that developments consider urban greening alongside BNG as part of their project design brief.
Acting as a valuable resource for achieving BNG targets, and helping to contribute towards urban greening (categorised as surface-cover types), green roofs are a relatively new concept for built-up urban spaces, combatting urbanisation challenges and reducing the urban heat island effect by reducing reflections from solid roof coverings and establishing greening plants that have a cooling effect.
Specifying a green roof an external bike store enables a new development to:
External bike stores are ideally suited to green roof applications, provide a consistency of design, reducing the visual impact of the structure, and enabling the softening effect of nature on urban landscapes. Considering a number of technical design elements is necessary to ensure optimum output and meet criteria guidelines, as per The GRO Green Roof Code. These include:
Aided by a lower structural height that helps to reduce ongoing maintenance costs, the roofing system of urbanspec external bike stores can be easily adapted to support the integration of a green roof system, making the introduction of valuable biodiversity into the built environment as uncomplicated as possible.
This enables green roof bike stores to be accommodated from the outset of the design process, incorporated into planning applications for BNG targets and to achieve BREEAM performance requirements, while providing opportunities to link with corresponding green elements on a development.
Green roofs on urbanspec bike stores can be specified as either extensive or intensive, with extensive systems supporting primarily sedum plants, while an intensive system provides an increased substrate depth, supporting a mix of sedum and wildflower plants.
A substantial resource and knowledge base enables urbanspec to simplify the specification process, utilising CAD models, NBS specifications and datasheets available for download. Supporting CPD programmes provide clarity on the optimal approach to aspects such as security considerations and effective space planning.