Green-Up Ecology Park


In the beginning……

Reno-2018 - 1

In 2018 the students of our 5- month program took on a deep energy retrofit in the City of Peterborough.

Stay tuned for a more in depth look at this amazing low carbon urban renovation!


It all started with an old concrete block garage.




Waste wood structural columns

Kinark Sustainable Living Centre straw bale, earthen plaster, earthbag, straw clay, solar, natural plaster, rainwater

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

zero house

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

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

sustainable building materials and technology

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

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

Sustainable Renovations

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

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!

2018 program dates: August 7 – August 31

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

What Makes Zero House – 475 High Performance Building Supply

Final Canada logo with type

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

What is 475 High Performance Building Supply?  475 High Performance Building Supply provides essential building knowledge and components to building professionals, focusing on materials that provide the best air tightness, ventilation and durability.


Where are 475 products used in Zero House?  There are 475 High Performance Building Supply products used throughout the Zero House building, including:

  • Mento 1000 house wrap – A 3-layer airtight, vapor-open housewrap that is an extremely strong weather resistive barrier (WRB). It provides superior weather protection and can cover most exterior building substrates. It has an actively vapor open, monolithic layer of TEEE film that is extremely waterproof – and outperforms perforated/stretched WRBs both in outward drying potential (38 perms) as well as airtightness.
  • Intello Plus – A “smart” vapor retarder that provides a first class air barrrier for thermal insulation in roofs, walls and floors. It gives structural systems a previously unachievable degree of protection from structural damage (from condensation), even under extreme climatic conditions, due to its intelligent vapor retarding properties.
  • Tescon Vanna – Air sealing tape is a long-lasting, robust solution for building airtightness. Used to seal the air control membranes over our prefab panels on the exterior and interior side.
  • Tescon Profil – Same great airsealing, weather resistance, and vapor profile as Tescon Vana, but with a 3-split release backing to make airtight connections and waterproof seals at corners quickly and easily.
  • Extoseal Encors – A watertight adhesive tape with high adhesion for creating window sills.
  • Roflex pipe gaskets – Creates durable and airtight seals around pipes, ducts and cables which pass through membranes, wood-based panels and other substrates.

How do 475 products help achieve the Zero House goals?

  • Zero net energy use – A building must be air-tight to be truly energy efficient, and the air-tightness products from 475 High Performance Building Supply help us to ensure that our building is free of costly leaks and that our air sealing will be durable and long-lasting.
  • Zero toxins – All Pro Clima tapes and membranes are free of solvents, VOCs and softeners

Other reasons for using 475 High Performance Building Supply products:

  • Waste – Most of the ProClima products are 100% recyclable
  • Workability – The membranes and tapes are very rugged, and don’t stretch or deform. They are much easier to install than other house wrap and vapor retarders, and it is easy to install without waves or folds. The tapes adhere extremely well and can be applied smoothly and accurately.
  • Moisture control – All the products have top ratings for moisture control in their intended locations, and together allow us to safely create a vapor permeable wall, roof and floor assembly.
  • Durability – The membranes and tapes are long-lasting, and the excellent moisture control characteristics help the building to last a long time in a wide variety of humidity and weather conditions.

Any drawbacks to using 475 High Performance Building Supply products:

  • 475 recently added a Canadian warehouse, so shipping times are greatly reduced. Products must be ordered directly from 475.
  • Many products do not have Canadian code compliance documentation, so even though they outperform conventional options, builders may have to use Alternative Compliance pathways to get code approval

Air sealing materials from 475 High Performance Building Supply are a key part of the high performance and energy efficiency of our projects at Endeavour. It is our hope that more builders will turn to these top-notch products in the move toward more energy efficient buildings.

What Makes Zero House – Inline Fiberglass Windows

inlinefiberglass logo new HR

This is one unlimited web hosting reviews about the materials we’ve chosen to build our Zero House project…

What are Inline Fiberglass windows? Inline is a Toronto-based manufacturer of high quality, energy efficient windows that use fiberglass frames, rather than the more typical vinyl or wooden frames.

Where are Inline Fiberglass products used in Zero House? All of our windows and doors are manufactured by Inline, including casement windows, fixed windows, sliding glass doors and entry door with locks. To give you good quality glass products for your house or building you can visit Glass Replacement Visalia.

Range of plantation shutters have wide compound louvers that fit into a window frame and are controlled by way of a wooden rod running up the middle. When not needed, they swing away on hinges in the same way traditional shutters do, except on the inside.

How do Inline Fiberglass products help achieve the Zero House goals? 

  • Zero net energy use – Inline makes very energy efficient windows with insulated fiberglass frames, triple glazing and great seals around opening windows. Inline received the highest energy efficiency rating in Canada from Energy Star. Inline worked with us to “tune” our glazing, so Zero House would have the best solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) on the south glazing, and the best energy efficiency on the north.
  • Zero carbon footprint – The manufacturing process for fiberglass window frames has a much lower carbon footprint than vinyl windows, and is about the same as aluminum clad wood frames.
  • Zero toxins – Fiberglass windows do not off gas like vinyl windows, and do not require the often-toxic paints used to protect wood windows.
Inline Fiberglass windows for Zero House net zero energy home

Inline triple pane fiberglass windows and sliding doors are part of our passive solar design

Other reasons for using Inline Fiberglass Windows:

  • Durability – Fiberglass frames have very little expansion and contraction as temperature conditions change, which helps glazing units to maintain their seals. The windows do not deteriorate in UV light and do not require painting or maintenance.
  • Affordability – Inline windows are very reasonably priced, especially for their level of performance. The cost for the windows is easily justified by the increase in energy efficiency and energy savings.
  • Workability – The exterior extensions on the windows allow us to match our siding depth and create a good seal around the windows. Inline’s clip installation system is easy to work with.
  • Code compliance – Inline windows meet all required CSA standards.

Any drawbacks to using Inline Windows?

  • We have used Inline Windows on projects since 2005, and have never had any quality issues or call-backs.

We will definitely be using Inline Windows on future projects. When you want your house and windows painted, just hire house painting santa monica ca services.

Inline windows spec's

Zero House Goals – Zero Construction Waste

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The making (and renovating) of buildings generates vast amounts of waste. The purchaser of a new home doesn’t typically see the mess that’s made, but it is huge… and largely unnecessary.

In the US, about 6.56 million tons of construction waste goes to landfill each year, about 11% of annual landfill volume (EPA-530-R-98-010), and the US National Association of Homebuilders study shows that the construction of just one typical 2,000 square foot home generates about 8,000 pounds of landfill waste (EPA-530-K-04-005).

While we’re not completely finished with Zero House yet, our volume of landfill waste is four bags, totalling about 18 pounds.

Zero House, zero waste construction

Close to the end of the project, and June shows off just three light bags of landfill!

We achieved this be focusing on several strategies.

  1. We made sure we used a lot of chemical-free, natural materials that are simple to re-use, recycle or compost. Lumber and plywood scraps were upcycled for other projects, and anything that wasn’t usable went to a disposal company that turns clean wood into pellet fuel. Materials like straw, cork and cellulose do not generate large quantities of offcuts, and what little remains is easy to compost. The Eco-4 fiberboard sheathing is accepted by wood pellet recyclers or can go back to the manufacturer. The ReWall sheathing we used is made from recycled drinking cartons, and can recycled back into more ReWall… however, we need to pay to ship it back to the manufacturer as the local recycling stream would not accept it in its ReWall form.
  2. We ensured we were not buying materials with a lot of packaging, and that any packaging is recyclable. Most of our small tally of landfill waste came from foam strips used between layers of hardwood flooring, and foam corners from windows and doors which is secured by Bronx Auto Locksmith.
  3. We made sure our site crew was waste-conscious. It is possible to rack up a large volume of landfill waste from take-out food containers, fast food wrappers and other crew-related waste. Our gang this year was very conscious about keeping this to an absolute minimum.
  4. We tried to make separation streams as easy as possible on site, and undertook some on-site sorting before anything left site. Even with an actively engaged construction crew, the wrong item can end up in a bin, and there was always someone willing to make sure the sorting was done properly. On the job site, this means having multiple bins for various waste streams conveniently located on the site. It was definitely noticeable if the waste setup was not done well, then sorting and participation dropped off quickly.

Not every project is likely to put the time and effort into waste reduction that we have. But we don’t need every building to reduce to 0.002% of the average like we did to make a big change in the amount of material going to waste. We encourage all builders to aim to reduce by at least 50%, which should be easy to do and would make a real difference.

Zero House Goals – Zero Toxin Living Space

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The toxicity of buildings is a subject that is not much discussed, but it is definitely one worth thinking about. Most homeowners seem to assume that some form of government regulation is at work to make sure the building products in their homes are not toxic, but this is not the case. In fact, there are really no standards or regulations applied to the toxicity or chemical content of building materials/products (except in the cases of well-documented pollutants like asbestos and lead).

The US Environmental Protection Agency claims that the indoor air of the average American home is five times more polluted than the outdoor air, and they rate breathing inside a building as one of the top five environmental risks to public health! People have to maintain their healthy lifestyle and not only in their home, but even outside. People should eat healthy and maybe even teach their kids about exercise and they can even take them on jogs on a joovy zoom ultralight jogging stroller. (EPA 402-K-93-007)

Our goal for Zero House was very simple: ensure that there are no toxins or chemicals of concern in any of the materials that would affect the indoor air of the building. This sounds simple and like it should be easy to do, but the information can be difficult to find and interpret, and a large number of common materials and products cannot be used once we start to examine what they contain.

A clean, non-toxic, healthy interior for Zero House!

A good place to start when seeking to eliminate toxins from the indoor environment is the Living Future Institute’s Red List Chemicals. This list includes a range of chemicals that have known and proven effects on humans. A building that can eliminate these toxins will have seriously improved health impacts for building occupants:

  • Alkyphenols / Asbestos / Bisphenol A (BPA) / Cadmium / Chlorinated polyethelyne (CPE) and chlorosulfonated polyethelyne (CSPE) / Chlorobenzene / Chloroflourocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochloroflourocarbons (HCFCs) / Chloroprene (or neoprene) / Chromium VI / Formaldehyde / Halogenated flame retardants (HFRs) / Lead / Mercury / Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) / Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) / Phthalates / Polyvinyl chloride (PVC, CPVC, PVDC) / Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) / Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) / Wood treatments containing creosote, arsenic or pentachlorophenol

This list can be a lot to absorb, but practically speaking it means that we have to eliminate nearly all foam insulation materials, manufactured wood products, all vinyl windows, most brands of paint (even those that claim to be no-VOC), most typical caulking and adhesives, floor finishes… the list goes on. And this is only the Red List of the worst, most-proven health risks. If we take the “Precautionary Principle” and also eliminate chemicals that pose serious risks but do not yet have full scientific certainty regarding their negative effects, then the list of excluded materials gets even longer.

We can research this in several ways. We ask companies directly if their products are Red List free (this information can be found for some products on the Declare website). We also use the Pharos Building Product Library (a paid subscription service) to check chemical content. CARB and CARB2 compliant products also meet our criteria. All products also must have a Material Safety Datasheet (MSDS), and we will look at these carefully.

Take a relatively innocuous and widely used building material like drywall compound (drywall “mud”)… here’s a sample MSDS sheet:

MSDS sheet reveals several dangerous chemicals

We have to look up each chemical on the MSDS sheet individually, and find that all three of these have significant human health impacts, as does crystalline silica if inhaled. All of this in a product that is used in large quantities in our homes, and is sanded into a fine dust that can pervasive and difficult to clean completely.

The good news is: We can trade out materials with Red List and/or questionable chemical content for cleaner, healthier options almost everywhere in the building. Among the many examples of cleaner materials:

It takes a lot of effort to research and verify all the materials that go into a house, and while commercially-available healthy replacements can always be found, they often aren’t available through conventional building supply outlets. Keeping a building clean takes time, effort and coordination. But once we realize that building codes and government regulations are doing nothing to keep the insides of our buildings safe and healthy, the effort seems worthwhile.

What Makes Zero House – GRK Fasteners

GRK logo on black

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

What are GRK Fasteners?  GRK makes a range of screw fasteners, including several lines of structural screws. Normal screws can’t be used in many building applications because they do not have the shear strength or the pull strength to be used for structural purposes. GRK Fasteners are strong enough to be used throughout a building, and feature a recessed star drive that doesn’t strip. They also have a ZIP-TIP and cutting pockets so they drive quickly and don’t require pre-drilling.


Where are GRK Fasteners used in Zero House?  The prefabricated panels used to build Zero House rely on GRK fasteners in many locations:

  • The RSS (Rugged Structural Screws) hold the corners of the prefab panels together, providing a strong connection that draws the top and side plates together reliably and offer the shear strength and pull strength to keep the panels together.
  • RSS are also used to connect the D-rings that allow us to pick up the panels with a crane or forklift.
  • RSS are then used to connect each of the panelized elements of the building to the adjacent panels.
  • The R4 Multi-Purpose Framing Screws are used to hold the strapping on the exterior of the building that will be used to attach the cladding. Here, their strength allows us to go through the outer layer of fiberboard and still make a good connection to the framing.

How do GRK Fasteners help achieve the Zero House goals?

  • Zero net energy use – RSS screws enable us to attach the prefab panels together with an exterior strapping that eliminates all thermal bridging from the design

Other reasons for using GRK Fasteners:

  • Affordability – Though GRK Fasteners are more expensive than some other fasteners, we are able to use fewer of them.
  • Availability – Home Depot and other major retailers carry GRK Fasteners
  • Workability – GRK screws never strip, drive quickly and without pre-drilling, cutting down on labor time.
  • Prefabrication – GRK screws allow us to quickly assemble our prefabricated panels, and then lift them into place on the building site.
  • Code Compliance – GRK screws meet all code requirements for use in structural capacities.
  • Waste – The star drive system never strips, so we are able to re-use screws, especially those used attaching crane lifting straps.

Any drawbacks to using GRK Fasteners?

  • We haven’t experienced any issues at all with any of the GRK Fasteners we’ve used.

GRK Fasteners will definitely be used on further projects at Endeavour Centre.

GRK fasteners Zero House