NEWS / ACE News / Next generation urges action and calls for industry to go beyond Net Zero

ACE News

18 OCT 2022


Poll of ACE Emerging Professionals reveals gap between indiviudals and businesses on climate priorities.

A poll of ACE’s emerging professionals has revealed a perceived disconnect between their personal priorities and those of their employers on climate change.

The online sustainability survey, which received nearly 80 responses from those towards the beginnings of their careers in the built environment, asked respondents for their views on climate change, net zero and sustainability.

The findings reveal that climate resilience and biodiversity are both viewed as slightly more important than net zero for emerging professionals. Other issues in this space, such as environmental protections, water and air quality, social value and climate justice were also viewed as significant issues by respondents.

Their perceptions of their employers’ organisational priorities show a gap between emerging professionals’ views and those of business, with climate justice and a just transition and climate resilience viewed as the two climate issues most overlooked by the industry.



Commenting on the results Hiba Khan, civil engineer and sustainability and social outcomes lead at Mott MacDonald, said: “While the recent industry focus on Net Zero is welcomed by emerging professionals, it is clear the next generation would like our sector to go further and champion a broader range of issues – climate resilience, biodiversity, social value, water and air quality, social value and climate justice are all viewed as areas where businesses need do more.”

“We know that our industry sometimes struggles to attract and retain the emerging generation of built environment professionals, and if employers are to continue to be an attractive proposition, they will need to take the energy and enthusiasm demonstrated towards meeting net zero ambitions and apply it in new – but related – areas.”

Respondents were also asked how ACE could do more in this space. Comments included providing a platform for industry collaboration, engaging with clients on behalf of the industry, and sharing best practice.


ACE has recently adapted its advocacy approach in this space, with a new climate change group replacing the previous net zero taskforce. The new name reflects a broader focus for the group and the areas ACE will explore, as outlined in its recent three year Blueprint. In addition to this, sister organisation the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) has taskforces on biodiversity, air quality and water.

Emerging professionals are now inputting directly to the activity of ACE’s new advocacy and operational groups, with representatives attending regular meetings. Emerging Professionals have also authored a series of articles on the ACE website, What Sustainability Means, exploring climate issues in the broadest sense and how it impacts on their day-to-day. In addition, it has also featured heavily in Fresh Perspectives, the webcast series premiered earlier in the year.

Thomas Worthington, principal sustainability and carbon consultant at Atkins, and ACE Emerging Professionals national vice chair, said: “The survey demonstrates that climate is the number one focus for emerging professionals and there is a huge desire for our companies to do more.”

“Emerging professionals with a personal or working interest in climate are encouraged to join us as we provide a platform for the next generation to get involved. We’re looking forward to continuing to influence positive change across our industry in 2023.”

Find out more about ACE’s Emerging Professionals or follow them on LinkedIn.