Building better foundations for the future

1 February 2024

4 minutes to read

A nine-year innovation journey has culminated in a ground-breaking product landing on the New Zealand market, poised to change the way foundations are laid and create a more sustainable future. 

Born from the need to develop a more environmentally friendly alternative to the current polystyrene void forming pods, co-founders and directors of CLEVACO®, Andrew Minturn and Grant Brown officially launched the CLEVA POD® in New Zealand in September, following a March launch in Australia. Dubbed ‘a circular foundation for the future’, the CLEVA POD® is a like-for-like replacement, for the traditional poly pods within the standard AS 2870:2011.

It is a revolutionary patented forming system for concrete slab foundations made from recycled and waste plastic, making it an environmentally friendly, cost-effective alternative to polystyrene raft waffle POD or slab on grade concrete foundations. Maintaining the same parameters of standard sized polystyrene pods, use of the product doesn’t require any additional engineering requirements.

“It is installed exactly the same way as the traditional pods; therefore, contractors intuitively grasp the system installation,” says co-founder Andrew Minturn. “In practice, we have found a CLEVA POD® floor to be quicker to lay than traditional poly pods.

“We have been extremely fortunate to be working closely with Firth to deliver the CLEVA POD® as the environmental alternative to traditional polystyrene pods, within the Firth Rib Raft Technical Manual and associated CodeMark. We have also completed our H1 Thermal modelling,” he says.

Andrew has been involved in the building industry for over 20 years and has been advising the New Zealand Government in this sector for the past 15 years. Notable roles and achievements include developing the New Zealand Building Consent Authority Accreditation system, being the Department of Building and Housing representative and Principal Advisor on the Auckland Transition Authority and Chief Advisor to the Crown Manager in Christchurch for the Canterbury rebuild, as well as Chief Advisor to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Fellow co-founder and director Grant Brown has over 30 years’ experience in the building industry, relating to foundation design and construction. Grant is an innovator, with several patented products brought to market including EZI-YAKKA, Apache and Stunna. He is also the owner of Conqra NZ Limited, specialising in asbestos contamination identification and removal. Grant has dedicated a large part of his professional career to the education and training of his peers and was recognised in 2015 and awarded a Life Membership of the Building Officials Institute of New Zealand, where he is also the Auckland branch convener of venues.

The pair are delighted to finally see their innovation take hold with the introduction of CLEVA PODs to the Kiwi market, on the back of its Australian launch earlier in 2023. Due to the vast size of the injection mould tool, there are few specialist companies across Australasia with the manufacturing capabilities to produce the pods. Therefore a 30-tonne mould creates the CLEVA POD® at a manufacturing base in Melbourne, by the company’s partners Socobell, one of the Southern Hemispheres leading plastic injection moulding specialists.

Check out the below video on this innovative new entry into the Kiwi construction market.

Key advantages

  • Stacks for easy storage and transport
  • Highly durable
  • Environmentally friendly, manufactured from recycled and waste polypropylene
  • Easy to install and ideal for residential, commercial, and industrial buildings
  • Zero waste on site
  • Zero waste to landfill
  • Removes polystyrene from sites
  • Fully recyclable, can be reused creating a ‘circular foundation’
  • Assist designers in delivering sustainable features for GREEN and LEED certified building
  • Air pockets trap heat beneath the slab and improve thermal efficiency

Several Kiwi building companies are already raving about their experiences using CLEVA POD®. One such builder is Auckland-based Grant Malone. He said, “It’s a great building product for many reasons, one reason being that it’s way better than having polystyrene blowing around all over the place!”

Grant has used CLEVA POD® on residential builds in Tāmaki Makaurau and wouldn’t hesitate to use them again. “They are adjustable, so you can cut them for custom made sizes, say to work around pipes etc. I’d definitely use them again. It’s a really, really good product.”

Ash McSkimming has also been impressed when using the new CLEVA POD® product on a high-end residential build in North Auckland. “We rate them highly. They’re efficient to install, unlike other systems, and seem to have a lot of benefits. It seems they ironed out any potential issues and produced something that is now a favoured product. Especially on high-end residential builds, polystyrene wasn’t a favoured product!”

Civil and structural engineering specialists Markplan Consulting Ltd have been keeping a keen eye on the development of the CLEVA POD® void former system over the last few years. The company has been involved in the design of raft slab foundation systems in New Zealand since the late 1990s.

“We welcome this alternative option of a void former that can be used to create the raft slabs we design,” says Glen Cossey, principal engineer at the Albany-based civil and structural engineering specialists.

“Given the pod dimensions (1100mm x 1100mm x 220mm) match that of the polystyrene void formers that have traditionally been used, the suitability of the CLEVA POD® for a typical 80mm – 100mm concrete topping is noted, and the system is able to create modified pod sizes, it is our opinion that the CLEVA POD® void former is suitable for use as a  direct substitution to the traditional polystyrene void formers to construct raft slab foundations with similar dimensional requirements as currently designed by Markplan or other suitably qualified designers.”

CLEVA POD® is available from CARTERS. 

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