Welcome to our Everyone’s Exeter guest blog series, focusing on one of the 12 Goals each month over the next year. We will be hearing from business leaders on the impact that the featured goal of the month will have on their business and what their organisations are already doing to tackle the goal.

We are joined this month, for the Affordable Healthy Homes for Everyone goal, by Tom Davey, the Development Manager at Verto Homes.


My name is Tom Davey, I’m a Development Manager at Verto Homes. My role at Verto stretches from helping to negotiate land acquisitions through to project managing the planning and design stages of our zero carbon developments. Understanding the location of our sites and the needs and demographic of the area is critical to this. 

As a longstanding resident of the South West I am fully committed to delivering the best possible housing and creating fantastic places for people to live. Having two young children, I am also acutely aware of the current climate emergency and as such want to make sure the world they grow up in is changing and evolving to address this issue.

At Verto Homes we believe that our developments will meet and surpass many of Exeter City Futures’ 12 Goals, and that a fully integrated Zero Carbon Smart Home is the solution to the long-term implementation of this sustainable vision for the city. We know that working with like-minded organisations will get things done, because there are no cultural barriers to break down to begin with: we are all approaching the problem with a shared, ultimate goal in mind.

Exeter is one of the South West’s largest and most influential urban areas and is constantly expanding due to its growing appeal to businesses and its high quality of life thanks to the beautiful natural surroundings and vibrant culture and communities. 

As the city grows, the topic of sustainability must also be pushed to the very front of the discussion, to ensure that growth is delivered in a way that reduces the impact on the environment both in the long and short term. Housing is a hot point of growth in the city, and we must focus on ensuring that individual homes are not only built sustainably but also create an environment where occupants can live in a green and efficient manner while supporting a modern lifestyle. 

At Verto Homes, we believe that sustainable homes should be available to all and suit the whole city demographic. As made very clear in the Exeter City Futures paper ‘Towards a Carbon Neutral Exeter – Recommendations for a Carbon-Neutral Exeter by 2030’, the city has declared a climate emergency and has outlined 12 focus areas of urgent development in order to meet this ambitious target. 

One of which, “Affordable Healthy Homes” is an area where Verto Homes and our Zero Carbon Smart Home model can make a huge impact. Our vision is to create communities of zero-carbon housing with intelligent structures which enable residents to live sustainably in both the immediate and long-term. 

It is important to us that many of the 12 Goals for Exeter are addressed when designing new developments: so that we enable good placemaking, rather than just looking at our homes as isolated sustainable projects. To be sustainably successful, it is vital that a sustainable ecosystem is created across the development and wider area. Some of the other goals that should be considered in the development process include:

  • Reducing the Dominance of Cars – Has the relevant infrastructure been put in place to reduce reliance on cars? Are there footpath and cycle connections to surrounding networks? Is it possible to provide electric bikes for hire on the development and link this with the growing electric bike network across the city?
  • Renewable Energy Access for Everyone – Are homes built to work with renewable energy, do they deliver it themselves and are the relevant tariffs available from energy companies?
  • Regenerative Design – do the houses themselves have the capability to create their own energy?
  • Reduced Energy Consumption – Are the houses designed with the required level of insulation to reduce energy usage, and equipped with integrated smart energy measurement/regulation to make management as efficient as possible?

Almost all of the 12 Goals for Exeter can be linked to housing, and with the current shortfall of land supply for housing in Exeter, this will be brought into sharp relief moving forward to ensure that the housing being delivered addresses as many (if not all) of these goals. Part of our decision-making to invest in the South West was in no small part due to Exeter’s long-standing passion for progression in house-building and conservation.

Island Reach, our award winning zero carbon homes in Newquay, Cornwall. 

Going beyond bricks and mortar

The 12 Goals for Exeter fit well with Verto’s core purpose as a business – which is heavily influenced by the UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Assuming the city embraces its carbon-neutral ambitions, and delivers on them, this is only going to improve the quality of life within the city: as we reap the benefits from efficient infrastructure, desirable, green housing and plentiful employment.

Verto wants to work with partners who share our values and ambitions, that’s why we have invested in sourcing land and resources in Exeter. With this said, Verto Homes has recently submitted a planning application for a development of 40 Zero-Carbon Smart Homes in Pinhoe, Exeter which we believe to be the first genuine zero-carbon housing scheme in the city. This delivery could be one of the first major milestones on Exeter’s journey towards becoming carbon-neutral. The development proposes to deliver a selection of 2,3,4 and 5-bedroom homes and all are proposed to be built to a zero-carbon standard with integrated smart-home technology to create truly “healthy”, yet affordable homes. 

We are confident that as Exeter City Futures have been handed the responsibility to develop a roadmap to address the city’s carbon-neutral ambitions, this scheme will be well-received given the highly relevant benefits.

CGI image of our proposed Zero Carbon Development in Pinhoe.

CGI image of our proposed Zero Carbon Development in Pinhoe.

What is a Zero-Carbon Smart Home and how does this benefit the user?

Constructed using highly-sustainable materials and building methods, the homes do not burn fossil fuels for light or heat, omit zero CO2 into the atmosphere, and can be totally controlled by a smartphone app. The app controls a small mini-server or “hub” in the home which synchronises with on-site micro-generation technology and home-automation hardware. This system makes our homes some of the most energy-efficient homes on the UK market.

The home hub manages power produced by integrated solar-roofing systems by sending it where and when it’s needed. During the day, when the solar panels are producing energy, the hub will automatically divert this energy to high-demand appliances like the electric-car charging point or the hot-water store as required, minimising energy usage where possible.

The diagram below shows a selection of elements that Verto Homes has incorporated into its Zero-Carbon Smart Homes on previous developments.

While our customers are already reaping the rewards from smart, sustainable living, we acknowledge that others have been left out. Collaboration between civic and private partners makes sustainable living more accessible to everyone, and we are looking forward to working in a sustainably supportive city like Exeter where we have the best possible framework to empower people to choose sustainably.

The environmentally conscious people of Exeter deserve beautiful and intelligent housing which aligns with and supports their values: we feel privileged to be playing a part in the progress journey of this rapidly evolving modern city.