Can new builds rise to the challenge of Climate Change?

The recent record-breaking heatwaves across the UK, following the previous heatwaves of 2018, have brought the risks of overheating into the public eye, even though it has been declared as a public issue by England’s Health Protection Agency since 2011.

The negative impacts of exposure to heat can be seen when daily temperatures surpass just 16-20⁰C (Committee on Climate Change: CCC). The social and economic impacts can range from, poor thermal comfort, reduced productivity and wellbeing, to fatalities. In 2017 the average number of heat related deaths per year was recorded at around 2,000 (CCC). At present an estimated 20% of the UK housing stock overheats in standard summer conditions, therefore as climate change takes hold and extreme weather conditions become the norm, more fatalities will inevitably occur, unless significant action is taken to reduce indoor overheating. The Environmental Audit Committee expect the average number of annual heat related mortalities to reach 7,000 by 2050. It is concerning that the number of heat related deaths is likely to triple in 31 years, and should be mitigated against as far as possible. Furthermore, it is estimated that circa 90% of UK hospital wards are prone to overheating (CCC). This puts already vulnerable groups at greater risk. This is a clear indicator of how the impacts of overheating will be felt more severely as the effects of climate change become more apparent.

Building Regulations, which must be met by all new build properties, require a certain level of fabric energy efficiency (i.e. the efficacy of building materials in retaining heat) to be achieved as well as low carbon emissions rates. These standards dictate well-insulated, air tight structures to maximise thermal performance. A well-insulated property will both prevent initial heat gain, and trap existing heat. It is therefore crucial to find a balance whereby heat gains from sunlight are utilised in the winter, and minimised in the summer. Accounting for the effect of thermal mass at design stage is also important.  Homes with high thermal mass can be very effective at combating overheating, however, when the materials do not have sufficient time to cool down during extended periods of hot weather, the heat builds up and it is difficult to achieve cooler temperatures at night. This highlights the difficulty in achieving the balance required to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures year-round, especially where overheating is not considered early on.

Low & High Thermal Mass

However, where overheating is considered early in the design process, there are many strategies and features that can be implemented in new buildings to combat overheating. Overheating can be reduced by:

  • Limiting glazing area on southern facades
  • Installing external shutters, this can enable the homeowner direct control of the amount of sunlight entering the property
  • Incorporation of cross ventilation. This allows air to flow through the building and alleviate high temperatures.
  • Utilising louvres which encourage ventilation whilst also blocking sunlight
  • Extending roofs to provide shade over windows
  • Green roofs and walls which work through insulation, shade, evapotranspirative cooling and the albedo effect
  • Wider landscape design to provide local shading
  • Window design to allow secure ventilation on the ground floor

While some of the features detailed in the list above can be retrofitted, most must be considered at design stage if they are to be cost effective. Air conditioning is a popular retrofit cooling solution and, while effective, it is problematic as it:

  • Is expensive to install and to run
  • Is energy intensive
  • Can worsen overheating for surrounding buildings by moving the warm indoor air outside
  • Can intensify the urban heat island effect
  • Uses Hydrofluorocarbons as the primary refrigerant, a greenhouse gas more potent than CO2

Air Conditioning Cycle

Air conditioning is therefore contributing to the problem that it is being installed to help solve. This is a vicious and counterproductive cycle, as shown in the diagram above, that could be stopped with more effective early design solutions to overheating.

It is estimated that 80% of the current UK housing stock will still be in use in 2050, and therefore retrofitting will be necessary for existing houses. This need not be the case for new builds. Installing measures to combat overheating is crucial to avoid health issues and additional cost to homeowners. By highlighting overheating risks through updated Building Regulations, the government could facilitate changes to the new build market. Many of the passive measures to reduce overheating discussed in this article can be tested in dynamic simulation software, and some local authorities have even made it part of their planning process to consider future weather data. It goes to show that the technology is available now to combat current and future overheating, and placing this risk at the forefront of design could provide future proofed homes for generations to come.

Overheating is an issue that is not going away, it will continue to grow over the coming decades. Think about how uncomfortable you felt in your home on the 25th July 2019, these temperatures will soon become the norm. Without change now, both us and the generations to come will have little respite from the overwhelming heat. New build developments must be designed now to cope with the climate of the future and not the climate of the past.

 AES Sustainability Consultants can assist designers with analysing the risks of overheating now and in the future. If this is something you would like to discuss further please contact Silvio Junges on silvio.junges@aessc.co.uk.

Written by Ella Cowen, Graduate Consultant 

Consultants inside Energy Centre

Energy Centre Visit

Consultants visit Cranbrook’s Energy Centre

E.ON invited our consultants to visit the Cranbrook Energy Centre, located on the £120 million Skypark business development, supplying heat and hot water to both the community of Cranbrook and the Skypark business development.

Learn More: www.eonenergy.com/cranbrook

“Our visit to the E.ON Energy Centre provided a valuable insight into the functioning of a district heat network. Mark provided a comprehensive overview of how the system is developed, and how the system and its sources of energy will evolve over time towards zero carbon”. Aaron – Graduate Sustainability Consultant


“We learnt about the engineering challenges involved with constructing and maintaining a district heating network. In addition, we learned the differences between district heat networks and traditional centralised heating networks in terms of economics and customer experience. The presentation highlighted to us the importance of local planning policy in promoting the implementation of district heating networks e.g. East Devon council planning requirements. We learned about potential future projects in which waste heat form the FAB link could be used, along with heat pumps, to implement a more efficient, low temperature District Heating Network”. Kieran – Graduate Sustainability Consultant

Thank you for showing us around!

Plastic Free July Logo

Plastic Free July: My Honest Account

Plastic Free July: My Honest Account

Written by Charlotte Dutton

Last month, inspired by the BBC One programme: War on Plastic with Hugh and Anita, who over the series highlighted the shocking truths of our plastic consumption. I decided it was time to jump on the bandwagon and really reflect on what I could do to reduce my own impact. I have written my honest experience; it is safe to say it isn’t a fairy-tale ending with a plastic-free happily ever after account of things, but it has opened my eyes to where I and others can reduce waste.

At the start of the July 2019, much in the same way Hugh did in Bristol, I decided to look at all the single use plastic in my life, a bit like opening Pandora’s box! I discovered that committing to a plastic free life when out/ travelling is difficult without proper preparation, and the kitchen was somewhat of a disaster but I had a relative amount of success in the bathroom, with some plastic products lined up to change in the future once they are finished.

As a Graduate Consultant, on a Graduate salary, money is an obstacle. One I became painfully aware of whilst trying to reduce my plastic consumption during the weekly food shop. When trying to shop ‘plastic packaging free’, it meant I wasn’t able to buy 80% of my usual items, but the alternative options were out of budget.

Out and About

I re-used empty jam/honey jars as storage containers, invested in Tupperware of all shapes and sizes and bought an extra water bottle for my car. I drive a lot – usually to the beach for surfing, to the gym or visiting friends and I like to keep hydrated. I found, an extra bottle in the boot of the car stops me heading somewhere, realising I need some water and resorting to plastic. I don’t notice it’s there half the time, but since I did it at the start of July, I haven’t bought a single plastic bottle of water! (Mini Victory Dance) 

The Weekly Shop

Aldi had a limited choice of plastic free fruit and veg; broccoli, tomatoes, lettuce, bananas… all wrapped in plastic. When I looked at other supermarkets, I found it was often the case that the plastic free option was again, the more expensive option. Of course there are local grocery stores and farm shops, which have the added benefit of reduced air miles and supporting local business, but I found they still have an increased price tag, and aren’t easily accessible for everyone and usually closed after 5pm.

Veg not in plastic

I would gladly pay more for my food, shop locally and choose the plastic free options, but on top of rent, bills and fuel, I’d have very little money to put into savings or to enjoy life outside of work. My immediate thought is, it shouldn’t be this hard! It’s easy to see how we have such a reliance on single use plastic when the decision for many is as easy as ‘cheap and convenient’. The financial aspect of making a plastic free or more eco friendly choice is something that I struggled with in pretty much every decision I made, and I found it really frustrating.

Home Cleaning Products

Switching out dish brushes/ sponges for a natural coconut option, using a cloth and spray rather than one use surface wipes and using Ocean Saver refillable cleaning products. My housemate and I are also experimenting with less chemical based cleaners – citric acid, white vinegar, bicarb of soda – things your Nan definitely knows about, but they work! I could also purchase glass spray bottles, and refillable bottles for detergent, but this is a work in progress.

Eco-Coconut Scourer

The Bathroom

I invested in a solid shampoo and conditioner bar, ditched the shower gel products for solid soap/body wash bar options, purchased a traditional razor and made my own body scrub. You can find loads of ‘recipes’ for body scrub online, and you don’t need to spend much at all. The one I made is a mix of coconut oil, sugar, lemon and honey – which also doubles as an in-shower moisturiser!

Coconut Oil, purchased in a glass jar, has a myriad of uses; hair conditioner, make-up remover and shaving gel!

I’m still searching for alternative products for my skin care routine, unfortunately cost is the problem again! The products I currently buy, set me back no more than £10 every couple of months. The same products, in a plastic free variant (or in Lush’s non-virgin plastic, which I’m counting as re-usable) would cost me over £40 – A commitment I would love to make, especially as a huge fan of Lush’s products, but I can’t financially make that commitment at the moment.

Shampoo Bar

In Summary

The financial implications of making plastic free swaps can’t be overlooked, I think a lot of people my age are in the same situation and feel the same way. We want to reduce our impact, we understand that most packaging is now used just once and thrown away, which is damaging our environment, but why do customers have to foot the bill for this change???


Team picture at the end

Bradninch Castle Velo Club

John O’Groats to Lands End completed by Bradninch Castle Velo Club

AES and DALTEC would like to say congratulations to Pete Turner, Mark Staddon, Stewart Wall, Steve Trump, Mike Bamforth, Neal Hobbs, Kevin Haddican, Andy Butler and Steve Pearson who took part in JOGLE 2019 to raise vital funds for four charities.

AES and DALTEC sponsored the Bradninch Castle team, with Managing Director Fraser Hall, taking it one step further by driving the support vehicle for the epic journey!

The route took the team of 49 to 60 yr old amateur cyclists over 986 miles with 58,000 ft of climbing during the 14 days but all for good reason. They raised an impressive £6,563.54 (inc Gift Aid) for the following charities:

Hope Challenge Team with completed structure

Hope Challenge 2019

After months of preparation and fundraising, a team of 5 from AES (Ed, Jono, Row, Andy & Ross) headed up to the Peak District at the end of June to take part in the 2019 Hope Challenge, organised by and in aid of Habitat for Humanity GB. The challenge was to raise money for the charity, design, construct and sleep in a shelter, as well as taking part in a series of physical and mental challenges throughout the weekend.

Morning picture

Meeting at the office at 05:15 on Friday 28th June, the team loaded up the cars and trailer with everything that was needed to construct the shelter and set off for the mammoth drive to the Peak District. Arriving at the Hollowford Centre in the spectacular Hope Valley the team set about constructing their shelter before the allowed build time closed and judging began at 18:00.

Having prepared and practised constructing our fully recycled and recyclable shelter, it went up easily with time to spare, allowing us to suss out our strong competition. Our shelter featured a frame constructed of cardboard tubes previously used on rolls of artificial grass, a pond liner floor, a Perspex roof from a dismantled chicken coop and tarpaulin used to protect the aforementioned artificial grass. The resulting look was maybe a little more rustic than some of our competitors’, however it was structurally sound and survived the whole weekend. The judges were impressed by our shelter, and loved the little touches like the luggage rack made from leftover tubes, and the bee hotel made with the remaining bamboo dowels.

Structure in progress

Saturday began with the challenges at the Hollowford Centre – a water transportation exercise against the clock using bamboo stakes, guttering and twine which went smoothly and really got the team going, setting them up nicely for the following raft build. After time designing and constructing the raft, intrepid paddlers Andy & Ross took to the lake for a lap of the course, completing it in a record time, all the while remaining dry! (more than can be said for our opposing team – sorry Coins!). The final challenge of the morning was to make a fire, Bear Grylls style, and boil water for a hot chocolate – living in Devon with the abundance of wood burners and open fires, if’s fair to say we had this covered!

Structure being built

The afternoon arrived and it was time to begin our hike and memory challenge, in the sweltering heat. On the start line, 20 items (including Pi to 20 decimal places) were laid out for us to memorise and recite following the walk. We each memorised specific items and set off for the hike. At the first checkpoint, a stretcher carry challenge had been set up – 1 member of the team had to carried using only a bivvy bag and a climbing rope. Jono & Ed stepped up and, on a rope swing seat, carried Ross over the 100m course with incredible strength and determination. The hike continued up to the spectacular Mam Tor and along the ridge back to the Hollowford Centre, returning just in time for the BBQ and prize giving.

Ross being carried

A night in the pubs of Castleton celebrating with the other teams rounded off the fantastic weekend. Congratulations to the winners from the NHBC and to the great lads of Pantera Carpentry who came in second.

Finishing 7th overall and raising £2,454.00 for Habitat for Humanity the AES team headed home to Devon. Don’t worry, parts of our shelter have been re-used, with the rest recycled.

We had a fantastic weekend and send our thanks to Habitat for Humanity GB and Across the Divide for organising the event.

Team Hope Challenge on the walk

Mindful Employer Logo

AES signs the Mindful Employer Charter

‘Charter for Employers Positive about Mental Health’

As part of Devon Partnership NHS Trust, Mindful Employer and its services are administered by a team of Mental Health and Employment Professionals. The team will work with AES Sustainability Consultants to adapt good mental health practice to the policies and procedures that best suit our needs.

By signing the ‘Charter for Employers Positive about Mental Health’, we are making a public declaration of our organisations ambition to meet the aspirations set out in the charter, and to support the mental wellbeing of our staff.

Celebration of buyout

Successful Completion of Management Buyout

AES Sustainability Consultants and Domestic Air Leakage Testing Energy Consultants (DALTEC) announce successful completion of management buyout


The founder of both companies, Jon Bodington, was keen to protect the businesses and its staff by giving the management team the opportunity to purchase the businesses so he could take a step back to pursue other interests.  The buyout has transferred ownership of both companies to AES Sustainability Limited whose new shareholders include Jon and Sue Bodington along with members of the senior management team: Fraser Hall, Anna Farmer, Alex Brooks, Silvio Junges, Greg Lock, Andrew McManus and Stewart Boyce.

Day to day management control of the companies is retained by the existing Directors; Fraser Hall, Anna Farmer and Alex Brooks.

AES Sustainability Consultants and DALTEC provide high quality advice and technical support throughout the lifecycle of a development, from land buying and planning stages right through to post-construction testing and certification. The two companies employ over 40 staff and service clients across the UK, including many of the top national housebuilders, developers and contractors.

“I have worked with Jon since 2005 and found him to be an inspirational, driven and focused leader.  After 14 years of building AES Sustainability Consultants and DALTEC I understand his desire to take a step back from the businesses and am happy to take up the reigns and continue to deliver his vision.Fraser Hall

Founding AES Sustainability Consultants in 2005, Jon Bodington soon became the Managing Director of a growing team and whilst he won’t be in the office day-to-day, he will still have an impact on the future of AES and DALTEC through his role of Chairman.

“I have worked in AES for over eight years now and am extremely proud of the expertise and dedication of the team.  We are very grateful for the passion that Jon has instilled in us all and the high standards he has set. 

Jon has always been the driving force behind the business but as we have grown the senior managers have taken on increasing responsibility for the day to day running of the company and shaping our future direction. 

Jon’s decision to take a step back will not impact on our future growth as we have strong relationships with our client base and a passionate team dedicated to delivering the highest standards of service. Jon set up the company to deliver honest, impartial advice to the construction industry and we will continue to do this for our clients across the UK, large and small.”  Anna Farmer

Legal advice to the founders was provided by James Orpin of Tozers LLP and legal advice to the management buyout team was provided by Evelyn Adfield of Porter Dodson LLP.

Cranes in skyline

Constructing Clean Air

Today is World Environment Day, a day to raise awareness of the environmental issues. This year, we are encouraged to learn more about the air pollution around you, and how we can #BeatAirPollution.

Poor air quality within our towns and cities has been well documented over recent years, but how much the construction industry contributes to this, particularly when taking a whole life cycle approach is perhaps less well known. Air pollution is known to cause a range of illnesses including; an increased risk of lung disease, asthma attacks, Type 2 Diabetes… the list does go on. There are numerous sources of air pollution from driving and heating your home to larger scale commercial activities, such as manufacturing and construction.

What can and does the construction do to help #BeatAirPollution?


  • Specify and install energy efficient building solutions, systems and equipment reducing SO2 and NOx associated with the burning of fossil fuels during the operation of the building.
  • Travel methods for the development users must be considered as early as possible to ensure the development is designed to enable significant reductions in car-based travel.
  • Where car-based travel is required; specify electric car charging, car sharing spaces and limited car parking to encourage the use of alternative or more sustainable transport modes.
  • Sufficient ventilation in buildings to reduce indoor air pollution.
  • Specification of non-toxic paints, varnishes, woods and solvents, to reduce emissions from these products throughout the lifetime of the building.


  • Construct responsibly by reducing traffic to site through efficient procurement
  • Replace generators, excavators, bulldozers, mobile cranes and loaders etc. (otherwise known as Non-Road Mobile Machinery or NRMM) with more efficient models and gain NRMM certification through the energy saving trust. There are now some companies producing electric NRMM and battery storage for generators to help reduce diesel usage on site.
  • Devise robust control measures for dust to limit its distribution both on and off site.
  • Use non-toxic paints, solvents etc. as much as possible.
  • No burning of materials on site.
  • Testing the new buildings indoor environments to ensure levels of formaldehyde and VOCs are met.

Handover and Occupancy

  • Commission building systems, to ensure that they are working and being used correctly to minimise any detrimental impacts on both the internal and external air quality of the development.
  • Building owners and managers to be provided with robust travel management plans to ensure that car-based travel is reduced as much as possible.
  • Building Handover and User Guides to ensure that facilities managers and users are able to use the systems correctly.

The construction industry can go a long way in helping reduce air pollution, by constructing buildings to help reduce air pollution and minimise impact of construction activities. In essence, the industry has a large role to play to help construct clean air for our future generations.

Written by Maxine Goodey, Senior Consultant 

BREEAM Local Plans – South West

Local Planning Authorities across the UK have a responsibility to secure solid progress against the country’s targets to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change impacts. What can they do to ensure sustainable construction practices are embedded in non-residential development? Please read the attachment.

BREEAM Local Plan – South West

We will distribute other regions in instalments over the next few months. If you would like to discuss this attachment, please contact Maxine Goodey

Good news for the indoor air quality and overheating project

Building Alliance are delighted to confirm that they have secured funding from Birmingham City University to support a 3 year PhD student to provide full time support for the indoor air quality and overheating project. The PhD will be supervised by Dr Monica Mateo Garcia supported by Professor David Boyd and Mike Leonard. Silvio Junges, of AES Sustainability Consultants, will continue to Chair the steering group for this important work.

This program of research and real time trials is vital as we seek to demonstrate the value of thermal mass combined with efficient heating and effective ventilation. There is growing evidence of poor indoor air quality leading to respiratory illness putting an increased burden on the NHS and overheating which is resulting in premature deaths. The promotion of lightweight structures, increased use of insulation and an ageing population will only add to this issue.

The Government has recognised this and have confirmed that they will consult on changes to the guidance on Part F (Ventilation) at the same time as they consult on Part L. We are planning a further event with MHCLG on this subject. The Government has written to Building Alliance to commit their full support for this initiative.

Building Alliance will now begin the process of recruiting the right person who will commence in September 2019.