Tag Archives: natural building

Hempcrete Workshop

Saturday, April 9, 2016 – WORKSHOP FULL

Saturday, October 29, 2016
9.30 am to 4.30 pm
Endeavour Centre, Peterborough

Note: This workshop is being offered twice in 2016. Be sure to register for the correct date.

Workshop Instructor: Chris Magwood

Workshop Description

Come and discover how a simple mix of natural materials can create a remarkable thermal insulation!

Hempcrete (or hemp-lime) construction uses chopped hemp hurd (the woody core of the hemp plant) mixed with hydraulic lime to create an insulation material with excellent thermal, moisture-handling and structural properties.

In this workshop, participants will learn about the components of hempcrete, see a slideshow of various Canadian and international hempcrete building projects, and gain an understanding of how, why and where hempcrete is an appropriate material choice. In the classroom, we will look at the costs, sourcing and building science of using hempcrete on new building projects and renovations.

 

In the hands-on component of the workshop, participants will learn how to assess the necessary materials and create a mix that is appropriate for a desired end use. We will use mixing machinery to create batches of hempcrete, and learn how to place them in a wall, floor and/or roof. Different types of framing and shuttering (or forming) systems will be shown, and every participant will leave with a hempcrete block they cast themselves.

After this workshop, you will be able to undertake a hempcrete project of your own!

Entry Requirements
Open to all

Fee
Early Bird – $125
Regular – $150
Includes healthy lunch (vegetarian and vegan options available)

Maximum class size: 12

Building bottle wall features

Many natural buildings feature bottles incorporated into walls. Bottle walls add colourful light and whimsy to a wall and open up all kinds of great design possibilities.

Here’s a little “how-to” guide to building your own bottle wall. It’s quite an easy process, and is applicable to interior walls and renovations as new buildings. Your own creativity is the only limit when it comes to using bottles in your building!

Rocket mass heaters with Andrew Brunning

I have lived almost my entire life in homes that have been heated with wood in one way or another. From a giant wood furnace in the basement of an old Ontario farmhouse to an elegant little pellet stove in a city home in Peterborough, I have enjoyed the process of burning wood to keep warm.

Rocket stove revolution

With this kind of background, it’s no wonder that I have followed closely the development of “rocket stoves” over the past decade. From their beginnings as a means to provide efficient cooking heat from minimal fuel in developing countries, the promise of rocket stoves has been intriguing for any wood burning enthusiast. However, the open “J-tube” style of most rocket stoves meant that the feed tube for the fire was open inside the home with all the attendant dangers. In addition, the wood used in J-tube stoves is small dimension, which is perfect for cooking where fuel is scarce but as a home heating device means constant attention and stoking is required. For these reasons, I have been hesitant to recommend rocket stoves as a home heating system, except for the strong-hearted devotees of the idea.

Rocket mass heaters – suitable for indoors!

However, the development of “rocket mass heaters” brings the rocket stove idea to the point where it is a feasible home heating device. This style of rocket stove blends the safety and efficiency of the masonry heater with the do-it-yourself approach of the rocket stove. I was privileged to be able to take a workshop on building rocket mass heaters with Andrew Brunning of Rocket Mass Heaters.

The design of the rocket mass heater, or batch box rocket stove, was developed by Peter van den Berg, and its genesis is explained in this article in Permies. The heater combines the simple construction and burn characteristics of a rocket stove with a full masonry burn box, as with a masonry heater or typical wood stove, which can have a closed door with or without glazing. One fill of the burn box equals several hours of burn time and many more hours of heat from the mass built around the stove.

How to build a rocket mass heater

The workshop with Andrew allowed the participants to help build the rocket mass heater, as well as the large mass bench that would be the recipient of the heat generated. The photo gallery below gives a good overview of the process:

Rocket mass heater workshop coming to Endeavour in 2015

I look forward to building one of these rocket mass heaters for myself. And Endeavour looks forward to bringing Andrew to the school in 2015 for a hands-on workshop!

How to build with earthbag

Earthbag building is one of Endeavour’s favourite building techniques. We’ve used it for foundations on many projects, and have built an entire buried root cellar with this material.

We’ve put together our experience with earth bag in a photo series. We hope it inspires you to consider this choice for your next building project!

Thinking about sustainable building

There is a remarkable paradox when it comes to introducing new technologies, in construction or any other field. We expect new ideas or technologies to live up to unrealistically high standards, while at the same time we accept as normal many existing ideas or technologies that are inherently, deeply flawed.

It is a commendable tendency to try and be “objective” about new ideas and weigh as much evidence as we have at hand in deciding whether or not we think they are worthy. But we tend to be much less than objective about the ideas and technologies we use on a daily basis. Because they are normal to us, we rarely examine them in any meaningful way. A certain degree of inevitability is attributed to the ideas we’ve normalized; we don’t see them as choices in the same way we see new ideas as choices.

There are countless examples of this paradox in everything we do. In the building world, we find a great example in the use of milled lumber as our prime residential building material. Wood has every flaw imaginable for a building material. It burns; it rots; it’s insect food; it warps, twists and cracks; it’s a great medium for growing mold; its structural properties vary greatly by species, milling, drying and storing practices; it’s often grown far from where it’s needed; it’s heavy; it’s dimensionally unstable as climatic conditions change…. In fact, if an attempt were made to introduce wood as a building material in today’s building code climate, there is little chance that it would ever be approved!

And yet milled lumber has come to serve us very well as a building material. Collectively we used a natural material that was available to us and figured out how to deal with all its “micro-flaws.” In the end, we’ve normalized it and built an entire successful industry around an entirely flawed material! But if we introduce a new material that has even a small number of the flaws inherent in wood, we find ourselves up against naysayers who can only see the flaws and not the possibilities for being able to work with them. Straw bale and earthen building techniques can have many fewer flaws than wood construction, and yet are subjected to much more scrutiny.

There is no such thing as an idea or technology with no flaws. Recognizing this simple point is key to being able to consider new ideas fairly. There is an experiment I perform at public talks: I ask the audience how many of them have had to deal with a toilet backup at some point in their lives. The show of hands is almost guaranteed to be unanimous. Then I ask that same audience if they think the flush toilet is a bad, flawed idea that ”doesn’t work”; very few say Yes. And this despite having to regularly deal with some very unpleasant consequences due to an inherent flaw in the technology! We accept the micro-flaw of an occasional toilet backup as a reasonable trade-off for the convenience of using a flush toilet. However, I hear frequently that composting toilets “don’t work” based on second-hand reports of a single incidence of the composter smelling or not composting properly. There’s the paradox: the “normal” technology fails disgustingly at a rate of almost 100 percent, and yet the “alternative” is the one that gets branded as something that “doesn’t work.” In truth, both systems have some inherent flaws, and both will fail on occasion. We’ve just learned to accept the micro-flaws of one and reject the micro-flaws of the other.

Can composting toilets work? It's a question worth putting your head into!

Can composting toilets work? It’s a question worth putting your head into!

 

Every new https://techwitty.com.au/ will examine when making choices has a number of micro-flaws, as do those conventional technologies they might replace. One should not attempt to gloss over any micro-flaws, as you will be living with them for a long time. But the comparisons between sustainable technologies and their conventional counterparts do not and cannot stop at the level of micro-flaws. Sustainable building strives to address the larger and much more important macro-flaws in our approach to building.

It is at the macro level that all of the materials in this book have their advantages over conventional practices. To continue the comparison between flush toilets and composting toilets, we can see that both can be practically functional but also have some micro-flaws. On the macro level, however, the flush toilet is part of a system that sees billions of gallons of untreated or partially treated sewage enter our streams, rivers, lakes and oceans, while using vast amounts of clean potable water and a very expensive public infrastructure. Meanwhile, composting toilets can turn human “waste” into a valuable fertilizer with minimal infrastructure and little to no fresh water usage. It is at this macro level that we should be assessing our building technologies. In this case, the advantages of the composting toilet should be very clear.

Sewage report card

If we can start making wise choices at the macro level, we can trust ourselves to figure out how to minimize the micro-flaws of any technology. We humans are incredibly good at refining ideas and techniques. Through repetition, we gain insights that allow us to make the process better and better each time we use it. We’re good at doing things better, but we’re not very good at doing better things. Doing better things means looking beyond the micro-flaws and basing our choices on minimizing impacts at the macro level.

One of the challenges in adopting any new technology is figuring out where we are on the learning curve, and at what point on that curve we feel comfortable jumping on board. Some of the systems we work with in sustainable building are quite well developed, with installation and maintenance instructions that are very complete and manufacturer and installer warranties that back them up. Others are relative newcomers (at least in the modern context) and the instruction manuals are literally being written and refined right now. We may not know the very best way to use some of these systems until a lot more early adopters have trial-and-errored their way to some kind of standardized practice. There are rewards to helping break new technologies, and also risks.

Figuring out what choices to make in a sustainable building project can be overwhelming. It requires a lot of level headed research, a willingness to question in cases of 2G2BT (too good to be true), and a clear understanding of your goals and your budget. Endeavour’s Plan Your Own Sustainable Home workshop is a great way to start sorting out all these choices for yourself!

(This blog is adapted from the book Making Better Buildings: A Comparative Guide to Sustainable Construction)

Making Better Buildings book by Chris Magwood

Making Better Buildings by Chris Magwood

Design Your Own Sustainable Home

November 5-6, 2016
9.30 am to 4.30 pm
Endeavour Centre, Peterborough

Workshop Instructor:
Chris Magwood

Workshop Description

The dream of designing and building one’s own home is one of the most deeply held desires in our culture. The dream of designing and building a sustainable home marries that desire with a wish to live lightly (and affordably!) on the planet.

However, many questions face the prospective owner-builder setting out on this journey. To design yourself or hire a designer? To build yourself, or hire builders for different phases? How to choose from a myriad of competing natural building materials? How to choose heating options, water and waste options, electricity options? How to manage budgets and timelines? How to choose a piece of land? This workshop will explore all of these questions in an in-depth way.

The workshop is designed to be an un-biased look at all the options available to the prospective owner-builder, and to assist you with tools to help you assess and choose your way to the house of your dreams. You will leave this workshop ready to handle all the competing claims and information you will face by focusing on your personal goals and aspirations and creating a road map for how best to meet them.

Making Better Buildings book by Chris Magwood

Making Better Buildings by Chris Magwood

This course was the inspiration for Chris Magwood’s new book, Making Better Buildings. The book will be available at the workshop.

Entry Requirements
Open to all

Fee
Early bird – $350
Regular – $400
$600- Couple rate
Fees include healthy lunch (vegan and vegetarian options available)

Maximum class size: 12

High-straw earthen plaster recipe

It’s no secret that we love clay plasters at Endeavour, and the best case scenario is being able to use a clay soil right from the building site. It just so happens that we lucked into this for the teachers’ union office project!

After digging some test holes on the site early in the spring, we discovered that there was a strata in the site soil that was quite clay-rich and appeared to have almost no stone in it (which is very rare in this part of the world). We made some plaster samples from this soil and found that a wide range of recipes seemed to be viable. We left the samples face up into the elements for the whole summer, and one in particular held up really well so we knew we had a workable site plaster.

Our approach to earthen plasters has changed over the years, with the addition of more and more chopped straw over the years so that we have reached a point where we have a very high-straw content in the plaster. We have found that the high-straw recipe allows us to build up the entire thickness of the plaster in a single application. The volume of chopped straw supplies a huge amount of tensile support for the clay, and means that we don’t need to add nearly as much sand as we used to do when our plasters used less chopped straw.

The result is a mix that is very sticky thanks to the high clay content, and has a huge amount of “inner cohesion” that allows it to be applied at almost any thickness (4-5 inches is not unreasonable, if necessary!) with no cracking.

Rather than applying a very runny slip coat via sprayer or dipping the bales, we’ve found that a layer of the same mix minus the straw works well as a “primer”. We apply the primer to the bales, and then follow it immediately with the high-straw “body coat.” It’s sort of a two-part, one-coat system. It’s great to be able to apply the full desired amount of plaster and achieve the final look we want in a single application. Less time, and much less concern for de-lamination between successive coats.

The mix stays moist for a day or two, so it allows a lot of time to get the walls looking how we want, and the mix is very intuitive for those just starting to learn to plaster, while being fast to apply for those with more experience.

Our recipe (by volume) for this plaster is:

  • One part high-clay content soil
  • One part chopped straw (1/4 – 1 inch)
  • 3/4 part rough sand

There’s nothing like playing in the mud and making a viable building at the same time!

New system for straw bale walls

Over 20 years of building with straw bales, I have constantly experimented with new ways to integrate bale walls into buildings that are simple, cost-effective and energy/resource efficient. From load bearing to prefab panels to a variety of framing systems, I thought I’d tried them all.

But we were introduced to a new idea by the excellent builders at New Frameworks Natural Building, and we liked the idea so much we decided to try it ourselves.

Their “StrawCell” approach involves building a conventional stud frame wall for the building which acts as the exterior frame and main load bearing element. One immediate advantage is that this system fits into the regular code structure and should not require special engineering or design considerations, which can really ease the permitting process and help to lower costs. The straw bale wall is then built to the inside of the frame wall, with the bales pressed against the framing. The stud wall cavities are then insulated with dense packed cellulose, and sheathed with a permeable board material. Any kind of siding/rainscreen can be created as the final finish on the exterior.

On the interior the bales are very easy to install. The only framing that interrupts the straw is for window and door openings – very similar to the easy installation for load-bearing designs. At the top of the wall there is no beam or framing to notch around, just a plywood plate on the underside of the roof. We tied each bale through to the framing, so the wall was very straight and solid right away.

While the amount of lumber used in this system was initially a red flag for me, an actual calculation showed that we were using no more lumber than any of the other bale wall systems that use a frame of some sort. A conventional frame wall is actually a very effective and efficient way to use lumber, and only some load bearing systems actually use less lumber than this frame wall approach.

One major difference between this system and other straw bale approaches is the lack of exterior plaster. This can be seen as both a plus or a minus. We have been shying away from exterior plaster finishes for clients, especially commercial clients like the teachers’ union. While we love plaster, it is both a high maintenance finish and one that is susceptible to moisture issues unless well detailed, well protected and well maintained. While we definitely have not sworn off using exterior plaster, we are certainly glad to use siding when the client and/or conditions make it appropriate. On the plus side, this system reduces the amount of plastering material and labour required by half (actually, more than half since the interior plastering is always easier). Interior plastering can happen at any time of year, while exterior requires the right weather conditions.

The addition of the cellulose in the exterior wall brings this wall system into the super-insulated category, capable of reaching PassiveHouse standards even in our cold climate (something a single, two-string bale wall cannot do). The cost of the cellulose and siding together are quite similar to the cost of the material and labour for exterior plastering.

All in all, we like this system so far. We’ll continue to report as we finish preparing the walls for plastering and complete the remainder of the system.

Building Science: What every home owner and builder should know

Building Science is a relatively new field of study, emerging over the past decade as architects, engineers and builders examined the results of the new wave of highly insulated and energy efficient buildings. Building science attempts to see a building as a whole system, rather than an amalgam of different elements. Building enclosure (roofs, walls, floors, insulation, windows, doors and barriers) and heating/cooling systems as well as occupant loads and demands are examined within building science to achieve the highest levels of comfort, efficiency and building durability and serviceability.

At Endeavour, we think it’s important that building science isn’t just left to the scientists. Homeowners and tradespeople who understand the principles of building science will make better, more informed decisions at every turn in a project. Whether it’s a minor renovation or a complete new build, the lessons of building science will make the project more energy efficient, more durable and more comfortable.

The basics of heat and moisture movement and material properties are not hard to understand, and armed with an understanding of these basics, homeowners and builders will be able to have informed discussions with designers, building officials and HVAC suppliers and installers.

Builders involved in the natural building movement of the past two decades have played an interesting role in pushing the boundaries of building science.

Lessons learned in Brookridge Retirement Community, they have helped to inform the entire building science community as the field developed into its own branch of study. To date, buildings made with natural materials have often embodied the best principles of building science (whether knowingly or not!)

You can join one of North America’s leading natural building scientists for a workshop on the Fundamentals of Building Science at Endeavour to bring yourself up to speed for your home building project or to help you become a better builder. Jacob Deva Racusin is a principal at New Frameworks Natural Building in Vermont, and a co-author of The Natural Building Companion. His four day course is open to all, and is designed to introduce and develop the concepts of building science in both a theoretical and hands-on manner. You can read the course outline here.

If you intend to achieve a high level of performance in your own home or on your professional projects, this workshop is for you!

Timber frame for teachers’ union

Timber framing is an important building system for any sustainable builders’ palette of options, and we always try to include a timber framing element in our projects so our students can gain some exposure and experience in this time-honoured way of building.

Our current project features five “bents” or timber frame sections. Four of them hold up the roof over the curved ends of the building, allowing the roof to be straight, square and simple while the walls follow a rounded path. One bent holds up an entry roof section.

The timber frame section from the building plans was reviewed by both our structural engineer (Tim Krahn of Building Alternatives) and our timber framing instructor (Mark Davidson of Whippletree Timber Framing). From Tim’s recommendations on timber sizing and Mark’s expertise at layout and joinery, the initial design was turned into working drawings for the frame.

From Mark’s layout sketches, we went to work on measuring, marking and cutting the joinery on the actual timbers. Mark showed the class the basics of square rule timber framing, introducing us to principles and techniques of using a framing square to achieve the layout.

Each bent consists of three posts supporting two beam sections (joined with a scarf cut) with four knee braces to provide shear support, and we made four identical bents for each corner of the building. Unlike classic timber frame structures, this frame does not support the roof for the whole building but shares the duties with the straight sections of structural wall.

After completing the marking, the joinery was cut using a combination of classic hand tools (saws and chisels) and power tools (circular saw, mortise cutter and drill). In general, the power tools made the big rough cuts and hand tools were used to clean up and refine the cuts to ensure tight, smooth joints. We then drilled the holes into the mortises for the pegs that will hold all the joints on the finished bents.

As the joints in each bent were completed, we arranged sawhorses so that the entire section could be test fit in a horizontal position. Some of the joints needed to be cleaned up a bit in order to assemble the bents, but once the test fit was successful the pieces were numbered and the frames disassembled until the foundation is ready to receive them.

Earth floor workshop

The 2014 Sustainable New Construction class had their first day of hands-on learning this week when we helped Mike Henry and Deirdre McGahern install an earthen floor at Headwaters Farm.

earth floor mix

All the ingredients for an earth floor are ready to mix

The floor was installed in the basement of the new Headwaters Farm straw bale house, which is the epicentre of a permaculture/organic farm. The earthen floor will be in the root cellar area of the basement.

The day began with laying a base for the floor. In this case, the floor had been insulated with recycled foam insulation (4 inches for ~R-20), and the class formed a bucket brigade to move loads of “road base,” a well-graded and moist mix of limestone screenings intended to be tightly compacted. Given the number of people we had on the job, a lot of the compacting was achieved via good old fashioned foot stomping, as well as some tamping with a metal plate tamper.

The floor mix was based on a clay soil from an aggregate pit near Huntsville, Ontario. They provided a clay/aggregate mix that was about 1 part clay to 3 parts sand (well graded from silt to 1/8″ stone). To this, we added another portion of sand, as well as chopped straw. In ratio form, the recipe was 1 clay to 4 sand to 1 chopped straw. This mix has a heavier proportion of sand than a plaster mix. Higher aggregate for floors is something we’ve learned from Sukita Crimmel (and her new book, Earthen Floors, which is highly recommended). The sandier mix reduces cracking and helps make a stronger floor. The mix received much less water than a plaster, just moist enough that there is cohesion when squeezed or troweled.

After running these ingredients through the mortar mixer, a bucket brigade moved the mix down to the basement. We applied the mix to a thickness of 3/4″ which seems to be a “sweet spot” for earthen floors. It’s thick enough to have body and strength, but thin enough that drying times are reasonable.

earth floor mix

The mix is checked for water content

The mix is spread out and compacted with the use of wooden floats. The wood floats help to achieve a flat surface and allow the mix to be worked repeatedly without drawing the moisture and clay to the surface.

The height of the floor is checked with a levelling stick and a laser level. When the stick is placed on the floor surface, the laser line will align with a pre-set mark on the stick if the proper level has been achieved.

Once an area of floor has been smoothed and levelled, a steel trowel is used sparingly to bring an additional level of smoothness to the floor. Too much steel troweling will bring the water and clay to the surface and increase the chance of cracking.

earth floor mix

A wood float is used to smooth and compact the floor

We started installing the earth floor at around 1.30 pm and we were finished by 4.30. Many hands made for light work, and the floor was looking great when we packed up to leave. Mike and Deirdre returned to burnish the surface the next day (misting the surface and applying additional steel troweling to really smooth out the surface).

earth floor mix

Many hands at work on the earth floor

The floor will now be left to dry for at least a week, and then several coats of linseed oil (Claylin makes finishing oils and waxes for earthen floors) will be applied. Once the oil has dried (3-7 days), the floor is ready for use, or it can be sanded for additional smoothness, and a wax can also be applied.

We love earthen floors! Once you’ve experienced the feeling of an earthen floor under your feet, you’ll definitely want one…

Build Your Own Adobe Bread & Pizza Oven

August 6 & 7, 2016
9.30 am to 4.30 pm
Peterborough, ON

Instructor: Tina Therrien

Adobe ovens make incomparable food! Easy to build from natural and local materials, these ovens are a great addition to any back yard, campground or park… anywhere that people gather to share food and company.

 

During this workshop, participants will learn the theory of how the ovens are designed and how to use them for cooking. The class will then build an oven from start to finish, using nothing but local materials including stone, clay, sand and straw.

Entry Requirements:

Open to all

Fee:
Early bird – $295
Regular – $350
Fee includes  lunch (vegetarian and vegan options available)

Maximum class size: 12

Earth Floor Workshop Overview

Back in August, Endeavour was excited to present an earthen floor workshop with Sukita Reay Crimmel of Claylin. Sukita is a world leader in making modern clay floors, and she led a group of workshop participants in laying a floor at the home of Deirdre McGahern of Straworks.

This gallery gives a good overview of the process of making a clay floor and the workshop:

Earth floors have a come a long way over the past decade, and seeing the results of this workshop makes it obvious that clay floors are suitable in a wide variety of residential applications. We look forward to making many more!

If you’re interested in clay floors, check out Sukita’s new book, Earthen Floors: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Practice.

Making a Rubble Trench Foundation

Rubble trench foundations offer a means by which to connect a building to frost-free ground in cold climates without resorting to the use of a concrete wall and footing. While rubble trench foundations have a long history, they are not a common practice as most foundations in cold climates incorporate a basement space. Rubble trench foundations cannot be used to make a basement, but they are perfectly suited for buildings with grade-based floors that require a footing below frost depth.

For the Circle Organic building, our rubble trench was 4 feet deep and about 2 feet wide (the width of a backhoe bucket). We used a grade of local crushed stone called 2-4 inch clear stone. This means the fines have been washed out, leaving a rock that is very well draining.

Water that may make it into the trench drains through the stone to a drainage tile at the base of the trench. This drainage pipe slopes around the building and terminates in a “dry sump” where any water can accumulate and percolate into the ground away from the foundation.

The trench is lined with used carpet, which is free for the taking from most carpet installation companies. On the sides of the trench, the carpet prevents wet soil from migrating into the rubble trench and blocking the free-draining rocks. It also provides a small thermal break from the soil.

On the outside of the trench, we also used Roxul Drainboard, a recycled mineral fiber board that is free draining and provides a more significant thermal break. Insulating a rubble trench foundation isn’t necessary, but we are applying solar heat to the ground under the building, and wanted to keep that heat from migrating into the surrounding soil.

The stone in the trench is compacted up to grade level. We then added a layer of 3/4 inch gravel over the trench and over the entire floor area. This stone is easy to level out and compact, and provided a base for the above-grade portion of our foundation as well as the slab floor.

In areas where locally harvested crushed stone is widely available and affordable, this type of foundation makes a lot of sense. It displaces a very large amount of concrete in a very simple and straightforward way. Rubble trench foundations only work in soils where a narrow-ish trench can be dug without the sides caving in. Very sandy or very rocky soils may not be appropriate.

By connecting the building above to frost-free ground below, a rubble trench foundation can often be the lowest embodied energy and most reliable and stable foundation in a sustainable builder’s repertoire. It certainly worked for us at Circle Organics!

Open House for Canada’s Greenest Home

Join us on Saturday, March 9, 10am – 4pm!

Canada's Greenest Home nears completion

Canada’s Greenest Home nears completion

 

We have attempted to build the most sustainable home possible, and want to share the results with you! Since April, 2012, the students and faculty of The Endeavour Centre have been working on creating a home that showcases the best in sustainable new construction, and we’re excited to open the doors and show you what we’ve created. Come and see a wide range of sustainable materials and systems, including straw bale walls, clay plasters, Durisol foundation, triple glazed windows, composting toilets, rainwater harvesting and treatment, air source heat pump, ERV, comprehensive energy monitoring, solar hot water, non-toxic finishes and much, much more
Progress Gallery
We hope you’ll come and take a tour at 136 1/2 James Street, Peterborough, Ontario
You can follow the progress of the entire project on our blog

Seasoned Spoon Earthbag Root Cellar Almost Finished

More Trent University students may be able to eat locally-grown produce year-round at The Seasoned Spoon cafe, now that their subterranean earthbag root cellar is nearly complete.

This project is very unique, using local low-impact materials to create a food storage structure that will be able to house a range of vegetables at proper temperature and humidity levels year round, without energy intensive cooling or heating equipment.

Here is a complete set of progress photos, showing the building from start to finish:

Endeavour would like to thank the Seasoned Spoon for the chance to be involved with such a great project. Thanks also to Trent University for accommodating the build.

Tim Krahn of Building Alternatives was the adventurous and participatory structural engineer on the project, and Ben Parkes was the lead builder, with lots of help from Justin McKeiver and lots of volunteers.

We’ll post a final look at the root cellar when it’s all complete.

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