87 bike spaces, no bikes

The humble cycle rack is becoming the modern day equivalent of the bricked up windows of grand Georgian houses. Both are responses to the fads and fashions of government policy: one a tax on windows; the other the widespread use of environmental ratings systems. Cycle racks’ prevalence across new developments of every kind, often in startling numbers, demonstrates the success of tools such as BREEAM and the Code for Sustainable Homes in focusing attention on the environmental impact of buildings. Unfortunately, their ubiquity is also a sign of the dogmatic application of rigid systems that prioritise inflexible points-scoring mechanisms over features that would be of greater actual benefit. As rating systems come of age in the UK – BREEAM, the world’s first, was established in 1990 – it is clear they have made a great contribution to the sustainability of construction. But there are now signs of a backlash, with design teams complaining that they are more often tick-box exercises that suppress rather than drive innovation, conducted reluctantly and at breakneck speed to meet planning or funding requirements or for marketing purposes. In this piece for Building magazine, I investigated whether rating systems have outlived their usefulness – and discovered cycle racks in some very unlikely places.

Author: Katie Puckett

I am an experienced journalist, copywriter and editor who has covered the built environment for nearly 20 years. I’ve interviewed thousands of senior executives, politicians and experts in many fields and travelled to report on stories throughout Europe, the US, the Gulf states and India. My articles have appeared in many business and professional titles including Building, Estates Gazette, Inside Housing, the Bartlett Review, Insurance Times and Lloyd’s Market. I am co-author, with architect Bill Gething, of Design for Climate Change, published by RIBA, and I launched and edit The Possible, a thought leadership magazine for global engineering firm WSP. I'm also co-founder of Wordmule, an editorial studio that specialises in buildings and cities.

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