CPD article

Zero Carbon Councils – The Climate Emergency Declaration

This informal CPD article was written by Aaron Moon, a Graduate Sustainability Consultants at AES Sustainability Consultants for CPD UK.

Prompted by the IPCC special report on Global warming of 1.5°C released in Autumn of 2018, as well as increasing pressure from community groups and youth climate protests, multiple councils in recent months have passed motions of ‘Climate Emergency’. This declaration marks the councils’ acknowledgement of the immediate need to take action, and in turn have set aspirational goals for their respective regions to be carbon neutral.

The framework for declaration has involved a set of common commitments within each council:

  • To set a target date for carbon neutrality, ideally by 2030.
  • To establish a working group to develop and implement the climate action plan. This must be reported to the full council within 6 months, including the proposed strategy to reach the target and the associated budget required.
  • To call on national government to provide the powers and resources necessary to meet the 2030 target.
  • To work in association with other councils to determine best practice, and implement similar strategies.

As of April 2019, 42 councils in the UK have made a declaration of climate emergency, of which 27 have set the target for 2030.

Achieving Carbon Neutrality

To achieve these ambitious targets will require an extensive overhaul of infrastructure, the economy and societal norms of these communities. One integral area for decarbonisation will be the reduction of energy demand from the built environment; both new and existing. This suggests that future Local Plans in these regions will place greater emphasis on low energy/zero carbon developments, and set a precedent for all new developments to be resilient to climate change. However, as these motions have only passed in recent months, the strategies for meeting the targets across the 42 councils remain in continued development. Currently, South Cambridgeshire council is seeking to establish a carbon-free area in the next local plan, which will consider not only the dwellings, but also land-use, transport links and waste systems. This demonstrates the whole-systems, holistic thinking that will be required to meet the rapid decarbonisation goals effectively.

Milton Keynes council are also in discussion on a proposal to trial post-occupancy monitoring of new-build household energy performance, overheating and air quality to facilitate continuously improving standards for planning. A recognised monitoring scheme would be established to achieve this, which would intend to monitor these factors within 10% of each new developments’ dwellings for the first five years of occupation. This would drive up performance of new dwellings in terms of energy-performance, whilst also ensuring that the homes are resilient in the long-term to climate change, and additionally could establish a proven monitoring program that could be implemented in other councils.

Decarbonisation of New Developments

While the decarbonisation of new developments is vital, the importance of existing buildings cannot be underestimated – with 80% of homes in occupation today projected to still be in use in 2050. The decarbonisation of the built environment will therefore require the roll-out of large-scale retrofitting programs, which would drastically reduce the energy demand of existing homes, whilst also tackling other problems such as fuel poverty and unhealthy living environments (e.g. damp). Such schemes have been pioneered in the Netherlands under the ‘Energiesprong’ program, with a similar project now being implemented in Nottingham (with the support of a £5m EU Regional Development Fund). This innovative program demonstrates Nottingham’s commitment to their targets, having already achieved their 26% reduction target for 2020 two years early, and having set the earliest target for carbon neutrality (by 2028).

Collaboration between Councils

Lastly, communication between councils is highlighted as a key aspect of the declaration. This drive towards collaboration between councils suggests a promising direction towards the establishment of best-practice for decarbonisation. This has the potential to strengthen policy and provide guidance to further councils that make the declaration going forward. A collective approach would also facilitate easier implementation within the relevant business sectors, for example a standardised improvement on planning requirements would have to be met by the industry in all regions.


To summarise, over the coming year we can expect more councils to declare climate emergencies, with the councils to already have made the declaration announcing their decarbonisation strategies. By working collaboratively, and with increasing pressure on the government to support councils in these targets, best-practice approaches to rapid decarbonisation will be identified and over the coming years implemented.

We hope this informal CPD article was helpful. Please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles.

Big Devon March

The Big Devon March is a month-long challenge to see which Devon workplace can achieve the most steps, organised by Active Devon. Charlotte, Office Manager at AES Sustainability Consultants, put together a team to encourage her fellow colleagues to move more during a working day.

“I am aware the amount of time people spend sitting down has been linked to poor health and long-term medical conditions but I am as guilty as my fellow colleagues and regularly sit at my desk too long during the working day, so I thought some healthy competition would make us all more aware of the damage we are doing to ourselves by not moving regularly.” Charlotte LW

Studies have linked excessive sitting with being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and early death. We cannot ignore that research, we must act now to protect our health for the future.

100 Step Challenge


Our team consisted of 26 employees, we noticed a difference from day one; parking down the road instead of the car park to get in some extra steps, walking over to talk to colleagues instead of emailing and group walks together at lunch time.




“I wasn’t sure this would really change my routine much, given I was pretty active beforehand, but once I got going it did actually make me want to do more and be more active.” Fraser B


“It made me rethink. By using an activity tracker and seeing the difference in steps on days when I have actively trained vs. days with little activity. Therefore after the challenge I am trying to introduce more casual activities like walking to the shops to keep a fairly consistent step record throughout the week.” Maggie S


“I just wanted to beat Jono” Fraser B

Lunchtime Walk

We came 34th (out of 101). We are really proud of our team for their consistent effort throughout the month and really backing this challenge. We hope the outcome of this is that we are more mindful during the working day and choose to move more and sit less.

Position Member Total Steps 
1 Fraser B 534,442
2 Jono 525,460
3 Ed 459,990
4 Alex 400,157
5 Alice 398,146
6 Charlotte D 345,389
7 Ella 343,104
8 Ross 329,098
9 Mitch 305,873
10 Maggie 270,666
11 Max 260,649
12 Laura 240,538
13 Anna 222,028
14 Charlotte LW 213,948
15 Row 206,733
16 Lindsey 201,233
17 Sarah 200,218
18 Andrew 197,661
19 Mel 185,505
20 Aaron 159,643
21 Kat 156,498
22 Fraser H 147,414
23 Kieran 138,355
24 Lisa 88,117
25 Yasmin 52,105
26 Ben 9,300
Total 6,592,270

Fingle Bridge Branscombe to Beer


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And the winner is…

BREEAM Awards Winner Image with Lisa and Maxine
Lisa Coggins (middle-left) & Maxine Goodey (middle-right)

AES Sustainability Consultants are winners at the 2019 BREEAM Awards.

An annual fixture for built environment professionals, the awards recognise excellence in the sustainable building arena.

“It’s a real pleasure to highlight and applaud the ‘best of the best’ buildings across the globe,” comments Dr. Shamir GhumraBREEAM Director at BRE“They reflect an exceptional commitment to sustainable construction in a variety of ways and epitomise the value that BREEAM certification brings to projects at all stages of a building’s lifecycle.   Congratulations to all the winners and nominees.”

Public Sector Project – Post Construction Award goes to National College for High Speed Rail, UK. Working alongside Willmott Dixon and Bond Bryan Architects. AES Sustainability Consultants were appointed as the BREEAM assessor for this landmark building.

The building pushed the boundaries of best practice, achieving BREEAM Excellent using a well-balanced quality design, providing unique learning spaces in a highly efficient and comfortable building that will stand the test of a changing climate.

“This project differed from the others in its category in its function but also in its simple and understandable approach to sustainable design. The clarity and transparency of the design solution together with a clear focus on robust, cost-effective solutions and well-presented biodiversity gains were noted as were the references to the architectural heritage of the railway network in the UK. A simple but accomplished project.” BREEAM Awards

Congratulations to all involved. Please see below some images kindly provided by Bond Byran Architects.

London Plan Update

The latest draft of the New London Plan was published in August 2018, and once it has been through examination in public it is expected to be adopted towards the end of 2019 or early 2020.

The draft plan contains a number of policy changes relating to sustainable construction and carbon emissions reduction, which are likely to have a material impact on energy strategies for new development. In advance of adoption, updated guidance on the calculation of carbon emissions for new developments from January 2019 has also been published, so some of the changes will impact all new applications from the start of this year.

We have reviewed the policy and supporting documents and produced a summary of the key impacts and things that our clients should be aware of – for further details please contact our office to discuss how we can help.

Reducing the performance gap with BREEAM

  The BREEAM UK New Construction 2018, was released earlier this year. The updated scheme has a number of changes including methods and guidance to address the ever-widening energy performance gap between buildings design versus in use.

Recent data has shown that the gap between the predicted and actual energy performance of new building is significant, with actual performance often between 2 to 10 times higher than that determined by compliance calculations calculated at design. The performance gap has to be closed rapidly, if we are to meet our carbon emission targets.

  BREEAM UK NC 2018 has introduced Predicted Operational Energy Consumption (POEC) modelling and analysis which will help highlight where buildings are not performing as expected, allowing the designs to be appropriately adapted to improve efficiency as far as reasonably possible.

Up to 6 credits are directly associated with the POEC modelling. AES Sustainability Consultants can help you achieve these credits, but more importantly will highlight solutions for energy efficiency, helping to close the performance gap meaning a reduction in ongoing running costs.

  AES has over 12 years’ experience in addressing energy performance and have developed a cost-conscious approach to addressing the performance gap using POEC modelling.

If you would like more information on this please feel free to contact Claire Stone our in-house energy expert.

Meet the new starters…

We recently had a very successful recruitment drive, resulting in 6 new colleagues this November! We thought it would be nice for you to meet the team…

Image of New Starters         Image of Melanie Lewis

Aaron Moon (Graduate Sustainability Consultant)

I’m 21, for the past three years I have been studying BSc Environmental Science at the University of Exeter, based at their Cornwall campus. I have always had a keen interest in nature and wanted to pursue a career that would help make a positive change for the environment!

Alice Gent (Graduate Sustainability Consultant)

I’m 23, I grew up on a farm in Broadclyst, near Exeter, and studied Geography at Aberystwyth University in Wales. I enjoy lots of different hobbies, but recent pastimes I’ve been loving include pottery, cake decorating and hiking.

Ella Cowen (Graduate Sustainability Consultant)

I’m 22, I studied Maths at Durham University and Sustainable Development at Exeter University. When I’m not working I can be found playing rugby, dog walking and sea swimming.

Eloise Utley (Graduate Sustainability Consultant)

I studied Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cardiff Uni and then spent a year managing a pub before starting my Master’s in Energy and Sustainability at Southampton Uni. In my spare time I enjoy horse riding and doing Karate.

Melanie Lewis (Technical Administrator)

A lover of travelling, I have been fortunate enough to visit some incredible locations around the world before settling in Tiverton. Now I’m based in Devon, I spend my spare time walking the dog and watching the local rugby games.

Kieran Davies (Graduate Sustainability Consultant)

I’m 24, I studied Physics at Bristol University and Sustainable Energy at Glasgow University. When I was younger I wanted be an astronaut. My favourite hobbies are playing five-a-side football and cooking.

BREEAM Knowledge Sharing Ambassador

Yasmin Spain, one of our Sustainability Consultants, whom sits within the BREEAM team, has been invited to be a BREEAM Knowledge Sharing Ambassador.

BREEAM Knowledge Sharing Ambassador

“BREEAM Knowledge Sharing Ambassadors are a group of Sustainable Construction Professionals representing key and diverse stakeholder groups involved with BREEAM and related construction sustainability tools. The group meet, collaborate on, create and promote knowledge sharing of key information needed in the industry to accelerate the uptake of sustainability in the built environment.”

Our Armistice Stories 

Our Armistice Stories 

As 2018 marked 100 years since the end of the First World War, AES choose to commemorate the centenary of the First World War by inviting our staff to share their families’ stories… 

Private E. Daubney of Wiltshire Regiment
Private E. Daubney (Middle)


“My Great Grandfather, Private E. Daubney of Wiltshire Regiment lied about his date of birth in order to become a solider in 1916 (as he was not yet 17). His mother wrote to the India War Office applying for him to be sent home. In the meantime, Private E. Daubney was shot in battle during the Mesopotamia Campaign (British and Indian troops fought against the Ottoman Turks in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) between 1914 and 1918), he survived and was sent to a hospital in India. He later died in his 80’s in Sidmouth, Devon.” Alex Brooks, Director 




John James Tarrant
John James Tarrant (Right)



“John James Tarrant was conscripted into the army before being killed in the “Battle of the Menin Road Ridge” in the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917.  He left a widow and two children John (my Great Grandad) and Albert who were both under the age of 5.” Yasmin Spain, BREEAM Consultant 






“My grandfather, Maurice Hopkins, fought in France in 1916, he was born in 1900. As he was small, being only 16, he was often posted in a forward advancing trench and from his position would feedback information on enemy movements. From his post he reported a large caterpillared vehicle identified later as an early tank.

He was also the first member of his battalion to be mustard gassed and although he lived into his 80’s, he attributed this to the fact the never grew any body hair including never having to shave! He was captured and served time in in a prisoner of war camp, during a failed escape he was shot in the leg and was returned to the camp where he resided to the end of the war. During that time he gave his great-coat to another prisoner of war planning an escape and as a reward was given an ebony cane with a silver top by an officer. My uncle still has this. To the day he died he claimed a bullet was still lodged in his knee.

He told none of his stories of gallantry until he was on his death bed and chastised anyone who did as glorifying war. Only a very few members of my family know his full service record and I believe he will rest in peace knowing the details will die with them.” Fraser Hall, DALTEC Director 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those members of staff who shared their story and their precious pictures. 

Newland Homes

LABC Regional Winner

Congratulations Newland Homes 

AES are proud to have worked with Newland Homes on their Cotswold Edge development in Mickleton, which has been named as the Best Development in the West of England at the prestigious LABC Building Excellence Awards 2018.

“Cotswold Edge is an excellent example of the care and attention that we put into all of our developments.  To have won the title of Best Development is testament to the expertise and dedication of all the Newland Homes teams involved in the design, planning and sales of these homes.” 

“We pride ourselves on building great homes and communities.  The properties at Mickleton feature Cotswold stone and slate where possible to blend in with the local vernacular and a mix of traditional homes and bungalows in response to local demand.  We’ve also supported the local community through our time building on the site, including sponsoring events as well as providing funding and support to extend the cemetery and village hall.” Jeremy Drew, Director at Newland Homes