Building an Affordable, Sustainable Home

Learn about this team of builders and how they constructed Canada’s greenest home while keeping it uncomplicated and cost effective.

  • The Endeavour House racks up big savings compared with a conventional, similarly sized home in Ontario.
    Photo by The Endeavour Centre
  • The Endeavour Centre team celebrates the installation of the footings for the house.
    Photo by The Endeavour Centre
  • The prefabricated straw bale walls were delivered intact and installed in one day per floor.
    Photo by The Endeavour Centre
  • The home’s rear wall is a site-built straw bale wall composed of local, chemical-free materials.
    Photo by The Endeavour Centre
  • A worker mixes clay plaster to coat the home’s interior surfaces instead of using drywall.
    Photo by The Endeavour Centre
  • The homeowners who live in this super-insulated, nontoxic abode will save CA$3,000 to CA$8,700 annually on utility bills, allowing them to put that extra money toward the home’s mortgage and pay it off five to six years earlier.
    Photo by The Endeavour Centre
  • The Endeavour House uses renewable energy even when its system isn't directly providing power.
    Photo by The Endeavour Centre
  • The builders used VOC-free, natural paints.
    Photo by Jon Maxwell
  • The Endeavour House is outfitted with hardwood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
    Photo by Jon Maxwell
  • The home's countertops are made out of recycled paper fibers.
    Photo by Jon Maxwell
  • A chart for calculating energy costs.
    Chart courtesy MOTHER EARTH NEWS Editors
  • A charts showing how much can be saved.
    Chart courtesy MOTHER EARTH NEWS Editors

Several years ago, an empty urban lot in the city of Peterborough, Ontario, sparked an interesting and exciting debate among our faculty at The Endeavour Centre, a nonprofit sustainable-building school based in the city: What would it take to build the “greenest” home in Canada? And could such a home blend into an existing neighborhood and meet conventional cost and building code expectations?

In 2012, we set out to answer those questions, as the design and construction of such a house became the focus of our six-month Sustainable New Construction program. A group of eight students joined our faculty and guest instructors to attempt to meet the highest standards we could imagine for a residential construction project.

Sustainable Home Building Goals

From the outset, we knew that meeting our goals would involve a lot of research, as we weren’t prepared to make assumptions about the sustainability of any element of the project. We created an ambitious list of attributes we felt we’d have to prioritize in selecting all the materials and systems for the home:

Environmental impacts. We would strive to ensure that all of our choices would have the lowest possible impact on ecosystems.

Embodied energy and carbon. We would always choose the lowest-embodied-energy options and aim for a carbon-neutral building.

Energy efficiency. Our building would far exceed the code requirements for energy efficiency, and we would aim to be a net-zero-energy home.

10/6/2018 5:13:44 AM

"small steps towards a sustainable home:"

10/6/2018 5:13:42 AM

small steps to wards a sustainable home:

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6/30/2017 6:03:29 AM



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