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Geneva Park Sustainable Cabin

Endeavour’s Sustainable New Construction program for 2019 is working with Geneva Park, a YMCA camp, to help them create Canada’s greenest cottage community. The camp’s plan is to replace the dozens of old cottages on the site with new cabins that meet the highest goals of sustainability. In 2019, we are building the duplex Geneva Park Sustainable Cabin as an example of how the whole community will transform in the coming years.

As with all Endeavour projects, the design process starts with establishing the sustainable criteria from which we can start to choose appropriate materials and systems. For the Geneva Park cabin, the criteria matrix looks like this:


The building is intended to hit very high goals for occupant health and minimal ecosystem and climate impact. For this project, we selected a material palette that chooses the best of conventional materials, including wood framing and dense-packed cellulose insulation, local wood and shingle siding and mixes in some more alternative choices like hempcrete and hemp batt insulation and lime plaster and tadelakt finishes.

Geneva Park Sustainable Cabin

Elevation drawings for Geneva Park Sustainable Cabin

As with all Endeavour projects, things start with a crew of dedicated students arriving from all across Canada and around the world, ready to learn about sustainable building and put their hearts and minds into creating a beautiful, healthy and efficient building. This team joins us for 16 weeks, during which they participate in all aspects of the project construction. They also do classroom work to develop their building science knowledge and sustainable design skills.

sustainable new construction class

Class of 2019, and their hempcrete wall

The student team is led by Endeavour’s instructors. This year, three great instructors spend their days working with the class to ensure that the building meets all of its design goals, as well as the timeline and budget. It’s no small task, and Endeavour is lucky to have such great instructors.


Follow our posts for this project as we explore elements like:

  • Helical pier foundation
  • Formaldehyde free floor deck
  • Super insulated walls with cellulose and wood fiber insulation
  • Innovative air-tight ductwork recesses
  • Hempcrete and hemp batt insulation
  • Air source heat pump and energy recovery ventilators (ERV)
  • Natural plaster and tadelakt plaster
  • Non-toxic paints and finishes
  • And more…

Carbon drawdown now!

Carbon drawdown now!

Endeavour’s Chris Magwood began researching the embodied carbon of building materials while working on the book Making Better Buildings in 2013. It has become something of an obsession ever since! Making Better Buildings book

Chris is about to publish his Master’s thesis, Opportunities for Carbon Dioxide Removal and Storage in Building Materials in August. But he has been presenting the results of that study all over North America for the past six months, and a number of those presentations have been captured on video. In addition, he’s been on several podcasts discussing the topic.

If you’re interested in learning how buildings can become the planet’s sixth major carbon sink, you can find the presentation videos and podcast links below:

NESEA keynote address: Carbon Drawdown Now!. This talk is given with colleagues Ace McArleton and Jacob Deva Racusin of New Frameworks. It was an honour to be given the opportunity to present the keynote to this community of dedicated energy efficiency practitioners. We were excited to put a positive, actionable spin on the topic of tackling climate change.

Boots on the Ground is an excellent speakers series hosted by Passive Buildings Canada, and it was great to bring the preliminary results of the embodied carbon study to this group.

Reversing Climate Change podcast. This excellent podcast from the team at Nori is an in-depth look at carbon storage in buildings, with colleague Jacob Deva Racusin of New Frameworks Natural Building.

House Planning Help podcast. This British podcast helps owner-builders with high goals for energy efficiency and healthy buildings.

We hope you’ll take the time to listen to these presentations and to share them with your friends and community! The opportunities for making buildings a key part of climate change action are exciting, and Endeavour is glad to be at forefront of this work.

Healthy, zero carbon urban renovation

In 2018, we undertook an urban renovation project in downtown Peterborough, Ontario. The city had just adjusted its by-laws to allow for secondary suites on residential properties. Our client had an empty, 100 year old garage attached to her home and wanted to transform it into a one bedroom rental suite in a healthy, zero carbon urban renovation.

Endeavour brought our sustainable building goals to this renovation, including zero carbon footprint, zero toxins and zero waste. Using innovative approaches including hempcrete insulation, expanded glass sub-slab insulation, earthen floors, tadelakt plaster and much more, we brought new life to this old building.

Click on the slideshow below to see a start-to-finish exploration of this unique project…

Zero House Slide Show

Click on the gallery to follow our Zero House project from concept to finish…

Zero House was Endeavour’s most ambitious project. Designed by students and faculty of the Architectural Science program at Ryerson University, Endeavour undertook the transformation of the design into a fully modular, prefabricated building that would be zero net energy, zero carbon footprint, zero toxins and zero construction waste. We would also be building and tearing down the house three times!

You can follow the entire building process and explore all our material and system choices in the project slideshow:


2020 Workshop Schedule

2020 Workshop Schedule


Intensive Workshops – New for 2019!

We are excited to be adding a couple of four-day, intensive workshops to our offerings for 2019:




For more information, click on the links on the workshop titles above for full descriptions and registration info.

Sustainable Renovations in Canadian Contractor magazine

Canadian Contractor magazine put Endeavour’s Sustainable Renovations program on the cover of their November/December 2018 issue. The article gives a good overview of the participants who came from all around the world to work with us on our first offering of this unique program.

You can see the full article here.

Sustainable Renovations program in Canadian Contractor magazine

The Sustainable Renovations program undertook the rehabilitation of an old concrete block garage by turning it into a new, healthy, carbon-positive, non-toxic living space. Full details on the project will be available soon…

New Sustainable Essentials Titles

Endeavour is proud to be the series editor for the Sustainable Building Essentials Series from New Society Publishers. Now numbering 11 titles, the series is on track to be the go-to resource for the homeowner, designer and builder seeking to make the most people- and planet-friendly buildings.

Released in 2018 are four great new titles:

Essential Natural Plasters, by Tina Therrien and Mike Henry. This is the recipe book and resource that all plasterers have been waiting for! Combining many years of experience, the authors describe how clay and lime plasters work, and assemble time-tested recipes from plasterers from around the world.

Essential Rainwater Harvesting, by Michelle and Rob Avis. The two principles at Verge Permaculture have created the ideal resource for anyone looking to harvest and use rainwater from their building. From simple systems for irrigation to complete household, potable use, the book has all the information you need to do the calculations, systems planning and installation of your rainwater system.

Essential Composting Toilet Systems, by Ann and Gord Baird. No other topic lacks solid, well-researched information than composting toilets. Gord and Ann Baird from Eco-Sense have put together an incredibly helpful book that looks at how and why composting works, and review the many types of systems on the market. From homemade bucket toilets to high-tech systems, this book is everything you need to know about choosing the composting toilet that is right for you.

Essential Rammed Earth Construction, by Tim Krahn. Rammed earth is beautiful, durable and can be eco-friendly. Tim Krahn, an engineer with Building Alternatives who has been working with and designing for rammed earth for many years, examines rammed earth in its raw and stabilized forms, and provides all the details you need to know to create your own rammed earth building.

Building for climate drawdown

Endeavour Centre is committed to helping reverse climate change by creating buildings that are carbon capture and storage devices. Our buildings store more carbon in their materials than was emitted in making the materials… climate positive building. Add this to our net zero energy practice and use of onsite renewable energy and we can change buildings from being a leading cause of climate change into a leading solution!

Chris Magwood recently presented to Passive Buildings Canada about how this can be done, using Endeavour Centre buildings as case studies. You can watch a video of the presentation to learn more:

Sustainable New Construction 2019

Registration is now open for Endeavour’s 2019 Sustainable New Construction program!

Join us for this exciting opportunity to put yourself at the intersection of healthy and high-performance construction. This program offers you a place on a unique construction team, making a building that meets the highest possible standards for ecologically-sound construction. You’ll learn affordable and practical ways to achieve zero carbon footprint, zero net energy, zero toxins and zero construction waste.

To find out more, or to apply for the program, visit the program page.



Waste wood structural columns

Waste wood structural columns

There is an incredible amount of “waste” wood that is thrown into landfills or otherwise left to rot because it is not long enough to be used vertically in a building. So we take that wood and stack it up to make load bearing columns in buildings. Offcuts from log home factories, discarded 2x4s and 2x6s and dead tree limbs all find permanent, structural homes in our waste wood columns.


Download Waste Wood Columns Presentation (PDF)

Tire pier foundation

Tire pier foundation

Used car and truck tires are a waste dilemma in our society. Why not put these tires to use as structural elements in our buildings? We have used tires to create a tire pier foundation, creating a strong, long-lasting foundation that cost very little to make!


Download Tire Pier Presentation (PDF)

Prefabricated straw bale wall panels

Prefabricated straw bale walls

Endeavour has a long history of working with prefabricated straw bale wall panels. We were the first to make panels in 2000, and have continued to implement versions of panelized straw bale systems in residential and commercial building. To date, we have been involved in over 20 prefab straw bale projects!

In 2017, we built the Zero House with a “dry” prefab straw bale system, using no form of plaster on the walls.

Essential Prefab Strawbale Construction

Straw bale walls have a remarkable array of benefits, but they can be labour intensive and are difficult to build in a mainstream context. By prefabricating the plastered straw bale panels, they can be delivered to a job site for the same cost as conventional framed walls, and still have all the environmental benefits. And they can be produced quickly and easily in small, local micro-factories, making it possible to bring the benefits of bale walls to any region.

Chris Magwood published his book Essential Prefab Straw Bale Construction in 2017, which gives comprehensive coverage of the topic, including details for numerous different prefab systems.

Endeavour will be offering a workshop on prefab straw bale systems in 2018.

Below is an older slide presentation about prefab straw bale wall systems:

Pre-fabricated Straw Bale Walls – 8MB (PDF)

Round straw bale columns

Round straw bale columns

Many people use small, square straw bales to make buildings, but we used the big round bales as load-bearing columns in a building! The big rounds are incredibly dense and uniform, and we lab tested them to 120,000 pounds of load! They are quickly and easily assembled and make a truly sustainable “frame” for a building.


Download Round Bale Column Presentation (PDF)

Workshop Schedule 2018

Our complete list of workshops for 2018 is now online. It’s an exciting line-up of old favourites and new offerings.

You can access the full workshop list HERE…

Construction Skills for Women course

This workshop is held over four weekends: 
June 9-10 
& June 23-24 & July 14-15 & July 28-29

Endeavour is excited to introduce a new Construction Skills for Women workshop in 2018!

If you’ve ever wanted to be a bad-ass builder, our Construction Skills for Women workshop is your chance! This workshop involves you in all the steps of framing and finishing a small building. You’ll measure, mark, cut and assemble floors, roofs, walls, doors, windows and siding… all in a supportive atmosphere with two experienced women carpenters to lead and direct you.

Find the program details HERE…