When Building Back Greener means taking a closer look at the foundations.

The second installment of Tevi’s new Challenge Network on Sustainable Construction focused on an area of development that is vital, yet often overlooked: the ground.


Birgit Höntzsch, Chair of Landscape Institute South West Branch, Committee Member for Constructing Excellence Cornwall Hub and Senior Project Lead at Cornwall Council raised the profile of the value of soil and the intricate nature of successful landscaping. Birgit presented some astonishing figures from research about the amount of carbon released in the simple action of removing the soil from a development site before any other materials are brought in for the build. The concept of a Soil Bank which could protect soil health and distribute top soil was keenly discussed by attendees.


The brilliant initiative for environmental growth; Building with Nature has recently been updated and was presented with enthusiasm from Jenny Stuart, Principal Ecologist at Cornwall Environmental Consultants. This simple but thorough certification scheme links well with the strategic aims of local and national government such as the 2019 Spring Statement, which mandated biodiversity net gain for new builds. Furthermore, on March 13th 2022 Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged to introduce clauses to the upcoming Environment Bill which will require all developers to generate biodiversity net-gain through all projects in the UK and overseas territories.

George Gillow from the Kensa Group gave a thought-provoking presentation on ground source heat pumps to highlight the vast thermal resource right under our feet. Kensa have recently launched their ‘Heat the Streets’ project in Stithians where the majority of homes have been heated by expensive oil burners. The Heat the Streets initiative is heating multiple homes at a cheaper rate with a much reduced carbon footprint.

This was a hybrid event so discussions after the break were conducted between an online group and those who attended in person at the St Austell Conference Suite. These built environment professionals reflected on the topics raised which demonstrated the diversity of the ground as geothermal resource and demonstrated the possibility to greatly reduce digging in order to conserve material, time and biodiversity.

The West Carclaze Garden Village, which is underway on ground discarded after clay quarrying activity, could be viewed from the balcony of the Sea View suite over lunch. The landscaping of the Garden Villages across Cornwall has been carefully considered to improve the wellbeing of future residents.

The St Austell Conference Centre put on a beautiful spread of antipasti for lunch and offered support throughout to ensure the day ran smoothly.

The next instalment of the Sustainable Construction Challenge Network is due in May 2022. Tevi is also working with the Construction Excellence Hub: Cornwall to deliver their ‘Clean and Green Workshop’.


Presentation Slides:

Soils in Development and Construction; Birgit Höntzsch – 00:59:19

Building with Nature – How to Get the Best From and For Nature; Jenny Stuart – 00:36:34

Heat the Streets; George Gillow – 00:07:45

Tevi Introduction; Vicky Smyth – 00:00:10


Related Tevi Blogs , Videos & Resources:

Tevi’s Georesources for Sustainability Report

Dec 2021 – Innovation in Cornish Construction Materials

May 2020 – Build Back Better

Future workshops and events will be published here on our events page Events Archive – Tevi