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2014 Workshop Schedule

Our 2014 workshop schedule is now posted!

Design your own sustainable home, Carpentry for women, Straw bale building, Tadelakt plaster for beginners, Fundamentals of building science, Timber framing, Earthen plastering, Brick and stone masonry repair, Art of sharpening, and many more!

Welcoming the Class of 2014!

Endeavour’s full-time Sustainable New Construction program is underway, marking the third year of this exciting immersion experience.

Trillium Lakelands Teachers' Union building

Rendering of the Trillium Lakelands ETFO building

This year’s class will be building a new office for the Trillium Lakelands local of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO), in downtown Lindsay, Ontario. The building will be featuring a rubble trench foundation with Durisol blocks and earthbag grade beams, a hybrid straw bale/frame wall system, all natural plasters and finishes, a Passive House-style heating system, 5kW of photovoltaics, composting toilets, solar hot water and much more!

Sustainable New Construction class of 2014

Sustainable New Construction class of 2014

The class brings a wide variety of backgrounds and come from as far afield as Ecuador and the United States, as well as Canadians from across the country. We’re thrilled to have (left to right) Lesley Fukumura (BC), Greyson Sherritt (Ontario), Kathleen Spencer (Quebec), Andy Fisher (Ontario), Ivonka Brehovska (Ontario), Ben Bowman (US), Dániaba Montesinos (Ecuador) and Neil Boyer (US) join us here in Peterborough.

We are excited to have this new group of students joining us at Endeavour. The program has been extended to 6 months this year, giving the class an extra month to ensure they get to see all the finishing materials and details.

Please be sure to follow our progress as we start to blog about the project!

Natural Finishes for Canada’s Greenest Home

Natural paint, milk paint, natural oil paint, lime paint, clay paint

A wide range of natural, non-toxic finishes were used in Canada’s Greenest Home

One of the goals of the Canada’s Greenest Home project is to show that a very green home can be built by any contractor with the desire to do so. As part of that goal, we made sure that we used no products that contained toxic chemicals or off gassing compounds, and sourced all of those products from accessible manufacturers. While we love and support the use of homemade paints and finishes, we did not want to make building a non-toxic home appear to rely on kitchen chemistry.

Fortunately, the past few years have seen a wide range of non-toxic paints and finishes introduced by reputable manufacturers. While most of these are not available through regular building supply outlets, they are easily available to anybody with an interest in finding and using them.

Kreidezeit Clay, Lime and Casein Paint

Kreidezeit clay paint in foyer

Kreidezeit natural clay paint gives a beautiful texture and lustre

Kreidezeit is a German company that has formulated some excellent natural finishing products, containing no VOCs and no petrochemicals. Their products are available in Canada through Tockay Distribution. We used three of Kreidezeit’s products: clay paint, lime paint and vegetable casein paint. We found each of them easy to use and very well formulated. Application was straightforward and coverage was complete with two coats. The lime paint was rolled onto the walls, while the clay and casein paint were brushed on. All three give rich, lively finishes, with just enough texture to distinguish themselves from more conventional paints.

The paints apply to most common interior materials, including drywall and plaster. The paints all require the use of Kreidezeit’s vegetable casein primer, which can be brushed or rolled onto raw surfaces, or over existing paints and finishes. The clay and casein paints come in powdered form and require mixing with water. The lime paint comes in liquid form. A range of standard colours are available, or the paints can be custom tinted with natural pigments available from Kreidezeit.

We were very impressed by these products, especially the clay paint (pictured). It gives a finish that closely resembles the warmth of clay plaster, but with the simplicity of a paint.

Auro Lime Paint

Auro natural lime paint

The white Auro lime paint has a lightly textured surface that works well with natural light

Auro lime paint is a completely natural, non-toxic finish that comes in several different texture options, from a fine and highly polished “tadelakt” version up to a fairly grainy and textured version. We chose a lightly grainy texture, and mixed the white base paint with a natural pigment supplied by Auro (in Canada from Tockay). While a primer is available for this paint, we brushed it directly to raw drywall in two coats with excellent results.

The paint is quite thick, and adding water changes the texture on the wall. Brush marks are quite visible in the final finish, and we used a patterned brush stroke to highlight the texture. Coverage is excellent and the final finish is beautiful in natural or artificial light.

AFM Safecoat Naturals

AFM Safecoat Naturals paint

AFM Safecoat Naturals can replace conventional latex paints in every way

AFM Safecoat has been manufacturing a range of non-toxic finishes for many years. Their recent “Naturals” line of organic, plant-based finishes are completely bio-degradable. These natural oil paints were a very exciting discovery, as they represent the most accessible and affordable replacement for conventional latex paints. They can be colour matched in non-toxic tints to any colour available in conventional paints, come in ready-to-use cans just like regular paints, and are virtually indistinguishable from regular paints in terms of use and application. They are only fractionally more expensive than conventional paints. We obtained our AFM paint from Living Rooms.

As a natural oil paint, there is a slight amount of odour with the Naturals, though not nearly as strong as we were expecting from an oil paint. Drying times match that of latex paints, with surfaces dry to the touch with an hour or two and able to be re-coated same day or next day. A flat or a pearl lustre are available.

Unlike conventional latex paints, there are absolutely no toxins in these paints, and while the finish is highly durable and washable, it also remains permeable to moisture migration, making it suitable for use on vapour-open wall systems like our straw bale walls.

The range of products from AFM is proof positive that it is possible to make products that meet all the expectations of conventional, petrochemical-based and toxic products in a healthy, planet-friendly version. There is no reason that anybody building or remodelling shouldn’t abandon the tins of chemical soup for AFM Naturals.

Mythic Paint

Mythic non-toxic paint

Mythic Paint is just like conventional acrylic/latex paints, minus the toxic ingredients.

For those who wish to take a step in a greener direction but don’t want to “go too far” (though with all the options available, I’m not sure why), Mythic Paint offers non-toxic acrylic (latex) paints that are just like all the conventional paint options but minus the toxic contents. We obtained our Mythic Paints from The Healthiest Home.

Nobody using Mythic paints would realize that they weren’t using a normal, widely-available, no-VOC paint. Coverage, application, drying time and coloration are all indistinguishable from conventional paints. While these paints still use a petrochemical base, the company claims that there are absolutely no toxins and no off gassing. They can be used in any situation where conventional acrylic/latex paints are suitable.

The cost is only fractionally higher than standard paints, and less than high-end acrylics. The paints come in all lustres.

Allback Linseed Oil Paint

Allback linseed oil paint is from Sweden, and the company has a special process by which they purify linseed oil to make a highly stable and durable paint. This type of paint has been used for hundreds of years, with Allback’s purification process updating the traditional recipe into something that is predictable and long-lasting.

We used the Allback paint as an exterior wood finish. As a straight linseed oil paint, it has a very strong odour. While this odour is not considered a dangerous VOC, it is unpleasant enough and long-lasting enough to discourage us from using it indoors. As an outdoor finish, however, it works well on raw wood (and the company claims it can also be used on metal, plastics, plasters and masonry).

Our Allback products come from Living Rooms. There is a limited colour palette available, though the existing colours are very attractive.

The paint was easy to apply, but takes a relatively long time to dry (up to 2-3 days). We have been happy with the results, but this is definitely a product that takes some patience and understanding. If you want to have an extremely natural and durable exterior finish, this comes highly recommended, but be aware that it is not as easy to work with as its petrochemical counterparts.

Switching to Natural Finishes

All of the natural finishes we used meet remarkably high standards for non-toxicity, which alone should be recommendation enough for everybody to start using them. The fact that they are also relatively easy to apply and create attractive, durable finishes make them well worth sourcing for any builder looking to make an environmental difference in a project.

So far, all of these finishes have been holding up to the rigours of daily use, and the bumps and thumps of moving day left few traces behind. We will continue to report on the durability of these finishes, but to date we have nothing but positive feedback to report.

Plastering for Straw Bale Construction

TBA – July 2014, 2-day workshop

Chris Magwood & Jen Feigin

Clay plastering on straw bale wallsStraw bale walls are unlike any other wall type when it comes to plastering. The unique substrate of undulating straw combined with the many important roles the plaster plays in a straw bale wall system (it is structure, weather-proofing, air sealing and aesthetic finish all in one!) means that plastering straw bale walls is a skill all unto itself.

This workshop will focus on Endeavour’s unique two-part, one-coat system of plastering. Over many years of development, we’ve refined this technique to allow the full depth of plaster to be applied to bale wall at one time. Using a high clay content and a high chopped straw content, this style of plastering combines strength, simplicity and user-friendliness. This system can be used to create the final finish on a wall, or have a final skim coat finish applied over top.

Participants will get to experience materials selection, mixing ratios and equipment, the mixing process and spend lots of guided time applying the plaster to a permanent building.

The workshop will cover clay plasters (using local soils and bagged clay) and clay/lime hybrid plasters.

With this workshop under your belt, you’ll be ready to tackle your own straw bale plastering project!

Registration will open for this workshop when the dates and location have been confirmed. Please contact us if you are interested, and we’ll let you know when the details are available.

Entry Requirements:
Open to all

Includes healthy lunch (vegetarian and vegan options available)

Maximum class size: 12

Using an Induction Range

Induction cooktop at Canada's Greenest Home

The induction stove simmers a pot of turkey soup, still sporting its EnerGuide sticker!

When it came to choosing a cooking appliance for Canada’s Greenest Home, we were faced with a conflict in approach. Most homes that aim for net zero energy consumption will choose to use natural gas ranges and ovens, and take the cooking loads away from the electrical load calculations. However, the Living Building Challenge dictates that no combustion-style devices may be used to get the Energy Petal in their certification, requiring us to use an electric device of some kind.

We’d heard about induction ranges for a while, but had never had a chance to use one or even meet anybody who had used one. But it was clear that from an energy consumption point of view, induction ranges (especially in combination with convection ovens) have significantly lower electrical draws than conventional ranges.

how-induction-cooking-worksThe lower electrical consumption comes from the way heat is generated. Rather than using electrical resistance heating, in which a metal element is heated and that element transfers heat to the cookware, induction ranges generate a magnetic field under the cookware, and if the cookware is ferrous (ie, a magnet will stick to it) the strong magnetic field causes the atoms in the cookware to get excited and generate heat. Therefore, an even amount of heat is distributed across the bottom of the cookware, and no heat is generated anywhere other than the cookware.

Energy saving induction cooktop

The EnerGuide sticker shows the appliance uses substantially less energy than resistance cooktops.

Canada’s EnerGuide rating system shows that most freestanding, 30-inch ranges use between 470-515 kilowatt hours per year of average use. In comparison, the Frigidaire induction range we chose has an EnerGuide rating of 293 kilowatt hours per year, representing a savings of 177-222 kilowatt hours per year. This is a substantial decrease, probably the single biggest savings that an appliance choice can make. With our 5 kilowatt photovoltaic array, that represents between 35-44 hours of peak production from the panels that can be used of offset other uses in the home!

So from an energy use point of view, the induction range is great. But how about in daily use?

We’ve been extremely impressed with the induction cooktop, enough so that I would definitely install one in another home. Cookware heats up very quickly. A kettle of water boils in a remarkably short amount of time (no more getting a little chore done while the kettle comes to boil!), and in general temperature is imparted to the cookware in a surprisingly short amount of time. Heat in the cookware is completely even, with no hot spots in the middle of the pan and cooler spots around the edges. Changing the temperature setting causes an immediate change in the pan (which is usually touted as the advantage of cooking with gas). Simmers are easily achieved and work well. No heat is lost around the edges of pots or pans, and the cooking surface is not directly heated, so the surface is quite safe to work on. When a pot or pan is lifted from the surface or the dial turned off, there is no more heat.

We haven’t experienced any major drawbacks. There is a slight buzzing noise that accompanies turning on an element, and it’s loudest at the “Power Boil” or high setting. Under all but the very quietest conditions, this is barely noticeable, about on par with a “buzzing” lightbulb. If our tankless hot water heater is on at the same time, the noise is louder (not sure why). I wouldn’t consider this a drawback, just something we’ve noticed.

Dr. Magda Havas from Trent University (and who does a session with Endeavour’s full time students) warns of some potential issues from exposure to the magnetic fields generated by the cooktop. This is not an issue that has received much attention or testing, but the small amount of testing available seems to indicate that keeping a reasonable distance between the body and the element (the Swiss government suggests 5-10 cm) minimizes exposures. While this exposure does not concern me greatly (wireless internet is a much more pervasive and problematic threat, and we wired this home with ethernet cable to every room to avoid the need for wireless), I would not install an induction stove in a home for someone with electrical sensitivity.

Some of our cookware is not usable on the induction range (anything with an aluminum base), but all of our favourite pots and pans work just fine. The heavier/thicker the bottom of the pot or pan, the better it seems to work.

Changing the appliance we cook with was not something I expected to notice much or appreciate, but it turns out to be a rare case of an energy saving device also being a better functioning device.

Adobe Oven Building

TBA – 2 day workshop


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.

Registration will open for this workshop when the dates and location have been confirmed. Please contact us if you are interested, and we’ll let you know when the details are available.

Entry Requirements:
Open to all

Includes healthy lunch (vegetarian and vegan options available)

Maximum class size: 12

The Art of Tool Sharpening Workshop

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Peter Mack

EdgeCloseup00Sharp tools are essential to quality work, but the art of sharpening is becoming lost in a world of disposable items. This workshop will re-introduce the art of sharpening using basic and affordable sharpening equipment, applied to a wide range of tool types.

Participants will learn all about the kind of equipment needed to perform sharpening tasks, and will get a chance to practice sharpening skills on a different types of blades and tools. Participants are encouraged to bring their own equipment and tools and take advantage of the time and instruction to get your own tools sharp and ready for action.

Entry requirements:
Open to all

Includes healthy lunch (vegetarian and vegan options available)

Maximum class size: 12

House Framing and Finishing for Women

TBA – Summer 2014, 4 day workshop

Jen Feigin and Deirdre McGahern

Women's carpentry workshopFraming a house can seem like an intimidating process, especially for women who don’t have a lot of experience with power tools, marking and measuring. In this workshop, participants will learn about the construction of a conventional frame house by building a complete shed project.

From floor framing to roof decking, wall stud to siding, you will learn how to use the tools and do the work to create all the elements of a framed building and see the progression from a pile of lumber to a well-built, sturdy framed shed.

Your instructors will assist you with understanding all the marking, measuring and tool use required in an atmosphere that’s supportive and constructive.

Along the way, Jen and Deirdre will also share lots of tips and advice for framing projects you might have in mind, and in keeping with Endeavour’s environmental focus they will also talk about ecologically preferable materials and sourcing.

You will leave the workshop having completed an entire frame building from the ground up, and will also have a set of detailed plans and notes to help you re-construct the experience on your own. There is no better opportunity to learn the incredibly useful skill of framing!

Registration will open for this workshop when the dates and location have been confirmed. Please contact us if you are interested, and we’ll let you know when the details are available.

Entry requirements:
Open to all women

Includes healthy lunch (vegetarian and vegan options available)

Maximum class size: 12

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHouse framing for women workshop

Hempcrete Workshop

November 1 & 2

Tom Woolley
Hemp-lime author and pioneer from the UK

Hempcrete walls

Endeavour is very excited to be hosting Tom Woolley, one of the pioneers of hemp lime construction in the UK and Europe for this hands-on workshop about hemp lime (or hempcrete) construction.

The workshop will consist of short talks on the theory and practice of building with hemp, exploring its use with timber frame construction, casting and spraying walls, its use as a renovation solution, for floors, roofs and other possibilities. Tom will bring some films of hemp construction and details of resources such as books, web sites and other information.

Participants will build some panels of hemp walling to get hands on experience of mixing materials, casting and finishing .

The workshop will cover the energy efficiency, environmental benefits buildability, design and detailing issues. There are many different ways to use hemp lime ranging from plastering strawbale buildings to infill in multi storey commercial buildings. Tom will look at issues such as thermal mass, density, humidity buffering and indoor air quality. He will explain about the importance of using the right kind of hemp and lime binder and look at other options such as mixing with earth. He will explain how things can go wrong with some examples of this from Europe .

Tom Woolley photo

Tom works in the UK with other pioneers of hemp lime such as Ralph Carpenter of Modece Architects, Hemp-LimeConstruct, The Limecrete Company and many more. Tom has run similar workshops in Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Poland and Ireland and is a frequent speaker at many international conferences and events on sustainable construction. Tom is an architect working for Rachel Bevan Architects in County Down Northern Ireland. He was Professor of Architecture at Queens University Belfast  from 1991-2007. He is involved in the UK Alliance for Sustainable Building Products, and is on the European board of Natureplus, a certification system for environmental materials.

Entry requirements:
Open to all

Includes healthy lunch (vegan and vegetarian options available)

Tadelakt Plaster for Beginners

July 5th, 2014

Workshop Instructor(s):
Mike Henry — Natural Plasterer

Workshop Descriptionendeavour_tadelakt_052_2

Tadelakt is a natural plaster method that originates in Morocco and is the only type of natural plaster that is inherently waterproof, making it ideal for bathrooms, kitchens, showers, tubs and sinks. It is a beautiful plaster with an unequalled shiny finish and variegated colouring that is pleasing to the eye and to the touch.

This one-day introduction to tadelakt plastering will help beginners understand the materials and the techniques for making and applying tadelakt plaster. The workshop will show you how to source the materials required to make your own tadelakt mix, and how to make the mix and tint it.

The secret to tadelakt plastering is in the application. Applying tadelakt is a multi-stage process that requires patience and understanding of the material. Working on a small scale, this workshop will introduce you to the tadelakt process and give you the chance to take a small tadelakt project from start to shining finish.

Instructor Mike Henry is a natural builder, freelance writer and educator, and author of Ontario’s Old-Growth Forests. Since 2000, he has been a natural builder and plasterer with Camel’s Back Construction.

Entry Requirements
Open to all

Includes healthy lunch (vegan and vegetarian options available)

Maximum class size: 12

Tadelakt shower stall Tadelakt bath surround Tadelakt sink