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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:


2019 Workshop Schedule

2019 Workshop Schedule

A complete listing of all of Endeavour’s workshops and programs for 2019 is waiting for your eager eyes here

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…

Sustainable Renovations Course

May 7 – September 28

Endeavour’s Sustainable Renovations course is a unique, full time, hands-on sustainable building program that will put you at the forefront of the green renovations field.

You will find yourself at the centre of a renovation project that achieves the highest goals of green building:

Zero net energy use
– Zero embodied carbon
– Zero toxins
– Zero construction waste

You will work with teachers and practitioners who are leaders in the field and work with fellow participants who are motivated and enthusiastic.

It is a unique experience unlike any other construction program in the world!

Program details HERE…

Natural Building Intensive

Endeavour’s one-month Natural Building Intensive puts you at the heart of a natural building project, from foundations to finishes.

You will learn about the design and construction of modern natural buildings, using materials sourced from the local environment to create healthy, affordable and energy efficient shelter.

You will work with teachers and practitioners who are leaders in the field and work with fellow participants who are motivated and enthusiastic.

Join us for an experience that will give you the skills to tackle your own natural building projects!

2019 program dates: August 6 – August 30

Natural Building Intensive Overview

Our one-month natural building intensive is designed to give you hands-on experience with all the key building materials, systems and strategies for natural building. We will undertake a small-scale project that ensures participants get to experience all stages of construction, from initial site preparation to final finishes, including:
  • straw bale building
  • hempcrete
  • timber and wood framing
  • natural plasters
  • earthen floors
  • stone and natural concrete
  • recycled and repurposed materials
Classroom modules in the natural building intensive include:
  • design for natural materials
  • building science for natural structures
  • material sourcing and assessment
Participants will also tour natural buildings in the Peterborough area and meet with builders and homeowners in the region.

Is the natural building intensive for me?

Endeavour’s natural building intensive is designed to be relevant for newcomers to building and seasoned building professionals alike. The supportive, community-based learning atmosphere encourages engagement, deliberation and action! Whether you are looking to build a small backyard project or incorporate natural building materials into code-approved buildings, you’ll find your learning supported in the natural building intensive.

Entry Requirements

There are no formal prerequisites for joining our natural building intensive. Participants of all skill levels are welcome to join us. We provide all the tools and materials required, but participants are encouraged to bring their own tools.

Tuition Fee

$1,900 CDN plus HST. Food and accommodation not included.   Apply Now!

Earthbag root cellar at Trent University built by The Endeavour Centre

What is Natural Building?

There is no universal definition of “natural building” but Wikipedia does a pretty good job of explaining the basics of natural building. If you want to be inspired by lots of great photos of natural building around the world, Talking Natural Homes is a great place to start.

Here at Endeavour, our full time Sustainable New Construction and Sustainable Renovations programs focus on the use of natural materials in the context of high-performance, code-approved buildings where the natural materials palette is combined with responsibly manufactured products and high-tech mechanical systems. The natural building intensive focuses exclusively on the use of natural materials and simple, home-made systems.

What Makes Zero House – BiPVco Solar Modules

This is one in a series of blog posts about the materials we’ve chosen to build our Zero House project…

What are BiPVco Flextron solar modules? BiPVco specializes in the manufacturing of building integrated photovoltaics, that is, solar modules that are a part of the building, rather than “add-ons” that must be fastened over or onto the building.

Where are BiPVco Flextron solar modules used in Zero House? The standing seam metal roof on the south side of the building receives 32 modules that each produce 120 watts of power, for a total of 3,840 watts (3.84 kW). We use a company that does sheet metal fabrication Texas. These parts are hand delivered to us.

How do BiPVco Flextron solar modules help achieve the Zero House goals? 

  • Zero net energy use – The solar energy harvested from the BiPVco modules over the course of a year will equal the amount of energy it takes to operate Zero House.
  • Zero carbon footprint – The modules use a flexible, CIGS thin-film technology that does not require the tempered glass or aluminum frames of typical modules, and combined with the elimination of mounting racks, the BiPVco modules have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than other solar modules (67 kgCO2e/m2 versus 242 kgCO2e/m2 for monocrystalline modules, according to the Inventory of Carbon and Energy V.2).
  • Zero waste – The flexible modules are highly resilient and require only a fraction of the packaging for glass-covered modules.


Other reasons for using BiPVco solar modules:

  • Durability – We don’t need to make any penetrations in the roof surface to mount the BiPVco modules, which is a huge advantage in terms of long-term durability of the roof. There is also no glass to break in case of hail or falling tree branches.
  • Affordability – The modules are comparable in price per watt to standard modules, but the savings on racking and mounting make them a very attractive option price-wise. Roof trusses do not need to be sized to take an extra load, as the modules are very light weight and don’t present any wind uplift issues.
  • Prefab – We can mount the modules to the roofing and ship them together to the building site, eliminating a separate shipping step and construction step on site.
  • Code compliance – BiPVco does not yet have CSA certification, and requires a field inspection.

Any drawbacks to using BiPVco solar modules?

  • The adhesive that binds the modules to the metal roofing seems very strong, but only time will tell how it holds up the Canadian climate.
BiPVco flextron modules at Zero House

Flextron spec sheet