End-of-Trip Facilities—More than Just Bike Racks in the Basement

Global Director of Sustainability Tony Arnell, with Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group, discusses the rising demand of end-of-trip facilities.

Today’s end-of-trip facilities are a future-proofing strategy for owners to retain and attract tenants.

A recent survey of 280 tenants by commercial property manager Colliers International found that tenants valued bicycle parking and end-of-trip facilities above car-parking. Meanwhile, CBRE’s first Australia Occupier Survey, published last year, found tenants want to get “more people in less space,” but they want the space to work harder. In fact, 74 percent of respondents said they would value a “wellness offering” in their workplace.

And this is hardly a surprise when we consider the high-end offerings on the market.

At Grosvenor Place, the Harry Seidler-designed building at 225 George Street in Sydney, Australia, the new end-of-trip facilities were unveiled by the co-owners Dexus, Mirvac, and Arcadia in 2015. The deluxe “Camerino," or dressing room in Italian, features full air-conditioning, 30 showers, more than 500 lockers, and space to park 170 bicycles.

Each private shower room features a full-length mirror and a splash-protected power outlet to charge smartphones. Grooming stations include hair dryers and straighteners. The change rooms house fresh towels and luxe leather seats, as well as giant screens streaming news, sport, and weather. An ironing station, dry cleaning service, and shoe polishing machine, plus a bicycle repair station round out the offerings. Camerino is described as “a place to dress for the theatre as much as showering after a cycle commute.”

At AMP Capital’s 600 Bourke Street, the end-of-trip facilities include all the bells and whistles. These include a bike service and workshop, 21 showers, more than 240 lockers, and 205 bike racks. There are vending machines that sell bike tubes and socks, complimentary towel service, ironing stations, hair dryers, and straighteners, as well as a drying cupboard for wet lycra.

And Westpac’s new headquarters at Sydney’s Barangaroo also reflects evolving expectations among tenants. International Towers Sydney boasts facilities that cater to a “growing two-wheeled army of professionals” that use their daily commute as a cardiac workout. Tower 2 features 1,120 bike parking spaces, 1,240 lockers, and 110 showers, as well as fresh daily towels, garment airing facilities, ironing stations, hair dryers, and straighteners.

Westpac’s Head of Group Property Ian Bell says employees were asked what they wanted from their new office space before the bank moved to Barangaroo, and “overwhelmingly, they wanted a greater focus on wellbeing, including access to significantly enhanced end-of-trip facilities including bike racks, lockers, and shower facilities and a towel service.”

Bell says Westpac has been focused on encouraging staff to exercise more regularly by making it easy to use their end-of-trip facilities and providing a superior range of services, an approach echoed by AMP Capital.

“Office life has changed significantly in the past 10 years and commercial real estate is now a genuine platform for business and personal transformation,” says AMP Capital Office & Industrial Managing Director, Luke Briscoe. “AMP Capital saw an opportunity to create state-of-the-art end-of-trip facilities to nurture a dynamic and sustainable workplace environment, foster a greater sense of wellbeing and to facilitate a seamless transition across work, live, and play.”

As the wellness movement continues to gather speed, the benefits of cycling stack up. A study published in the British Medical Journal in April 2017 found that people who cycle to work have a 52 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease and a 40 percent lower risk of dying from cancer.

Of course, end-of-trip facilities aren’t restricted to cyclists on their commute. Walkers, runners, and lunchtime sporting teams all want access to the showers, lockers, and other amenities.

Asset Performance Manager Ashish Kulkarni, with Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group, has led a number of projects for Tetra Tech over the last 18 months, from million-dollar retrofits to more modest renovations. He says, “the amount of money spent on an upgrade must match the grade of the building.”

Building owners of premium assets are investing in end-of-trip facilities to encourage tenants to renew long-term leases, while owners of lower-grade assets are looking for smart design that doesn’t cost much to implement.

“From an engineering perspective, we need to match the services to reflect the grade of the building to ensure money is being spent wisely,” he adds.

The end-of-trip facilities at 60 Miller Street in North Sydney, a Dexus building occupied by NDY, A Tetra Tech Company, were “initially just a bunch of showers in the basement,” Kulkarni says. “We worked with Dexus to find an empty space, increase the number of showers, provide more bike storage and lockers, and better access. It is a much more attractive and functional space now—people use it and it’s improved the customer value proposition for building occupants.”

So what does this smart design look like?

While most of the bang for buck comes down to the value the tenants can see—the flooring, finishes, and extra features that give the wow factor—engineering plays an important role. For example, while an A-Grade or Premium Grade building may be fully airconditioned, spot conditioning may be adequate in lower-grade buildings. And lighting, when used cleverly, can lend a space the “luxury hotel look” and remove the dark, dingy basement feel without costing a fortune.

Security is another consideration, as some of the bikes people ride today can cost more than cars. “The facilities shouldn’t be completely enclosed, because seeing people coming and going activates the space. But we also need to provide good security,” Kulkarni explains.

Electronic locks and swipe cards, coupled with security cameras and in some cases double-entry doors, can give people extra peace of mind.

Retrofitting existing buildings with state-of-the-art cyclists’ havens is not without challenges. Determining the best route for the people who will use the facilities—one that doesn’t leave them weaving through an underground labyrinth or sneaking through the lobby in a towel—must be balanced with the feasibility of services. “How do we get water and outside air into a previously unused section of a basement? How do we make it compliant? These are some of the things engineers need to consider.”

The provision of showers can increase the building’s water and energy consumption, and ventilation systems can be a significant energy user if not well designed and managed. Getting the balance right “takes expertise,” Kulkarni says.

At the heart of sustainability is a philosophy of doing more with less—and that’s exactly what end-of-trip-facilities offer. These facilities realize the potential of an under-utilized space, and in doing so, provide greater amenity to tenants, encourage active lifestyles, cut carbon emissions, and deliver better value for building owners.

AMP Capital’s Briscoe says the end-of-trip-facilities have been crucial in the team’s purpose of delivering exceptional real estate experiences by creating a wellness-centric space that encourages fitness activities within the building. “We have seen more tenant customers cycle to work, morning boot-campers, run clubs, and lunchtime yogis utilizing our end-of-trip-facilities’ showers, lockers, and other amenities. We have had great feedback about our end-of-trip-facilities from all types of users within the building.”

And that is why they are much more than just bike racks in the basement.

Tony Arnel, Global Director of Sustainability, Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group