Why we’re planting one million trees


Picture this. You’re inside your home. Natural light floods your living room, renewable heat warms the oak flooring beneath your feet, your kettle starts to boil powered entirely by the sun. Then you look out of your window. What lies beyond?

If your home is part of our development project in Pinhoe, Exeter, not too far from where you live you can expect to find the fruits of our One Million Trees initiative. A project which aims to plant a million trees across the Southwest, absorbing 250,000 tonnes of CO2 and enhancing the local landscape in the process.

Here, in Pinhoe, you’ll see the gentle sway of hundreds of metres of wildlife-friendly hedgerows rich with hawthorns and hazels. A little further on, an orchard of summer fruits, nuts and apples, including a local variety called Kirton Fair. And eventually you’ll see thousands of newly planted trees. Not just here, but reaching far beyond your sight and spreading across the Southwest.



Why a million?

We’re all too aware of the environmental impact of housing. While our homes go above and beyond the requirements for a ‘Zero Carbon home’, the fact remains that nearly a quarter of emissions come from buildings. The residential housing sector overall contributes 27% of the UK’s carbon emissions. We want to do more than simply build better homes. We want to give back to the communities we work in. We want to enhance the ecology of the areas where we build. And our way to do that is by planting one tree at a time. Until we reach a million.

We’d like to say there was a scientific reason behind the number one million, but the truth is it just felt right. We’ve never been the kind of people who do things by half. So when we started talking about a tree-planting initiative, we needed a goal that was outside our comfort zone. If you’ve ever set yourself a target time for a marathon, triathlon or bike event, you’ll know what we mean. We’re confident we can reach a million trees, but it’ll require a lot of work and dedication to cross the line.

Of course, this many trees can’t be planted in a day. But in 2020, with the first notes of Spring in the air, our team planted 1,000 trees near our development in Pinhoe, Exeter. It was a beginning. The first step on a very exciting adventure.



The story so far

Like all happy stories, our One Million Trees project began with an introduction. A meeting of two parties with a shared ethos and vision. At Verto, we were looking for a tree-planting site. Meanwhile, not far away, Judith Cook, was wondering how to make best use of her land.

Judith’s long-term vision is to restore her steep acreage using permaculture and food forest systems. Creating a space for community gatherings, foraging and learning. We were delighted to become her first sponsor and begin our journey of planting a million trees together. Apart from being the first step in our initiative, this reforestation also marks an important step towards Judith’s vision.

In Judith’s words: “Verto’s passion for nature and commitment to this project has been a game-changer. It has not only enabled me to bring my initial vision to life but inspired me to think much, much bigger.”

For us, Living Zero is not just about the homes we create. Our One Million Trees project takes the Verto philosophy beyond the walls and perimeters of your Zero Carbon Smart Home™.

As soon as restrictions allow, we will be back planting more trees in more areas across the Southwest as part of our mission to fight for a more sustainable future.

If you’d like to help us reach our goal or have some land you’ve been thinking about reforesting, we’d love to hear from you.


Here are some ideas and inspiration to help you live more sustainably.