Students at Endeavour Centre to build Canada’s Greenest Home

Peterborough – What does it take to build the greenest, most sustainable home in Canada?

Twenty students are going to find out this summer, as part of a new learning program at the Endeavour Centre a not-for-profit learning centre that uses hands-on teaching methods to increase knowledge of sustainable building strategies.

As part of the Sustainable New Construction: Building a New Future program, students at Endeavour will take on the role of lead builders on a single family residence — a 2,000-square-foot, two-story home that will be built on an infill lot in an older neighbourhood near downtown Peterborough.

When completed, the house will use a fraction of the energy of a conventional home, and will meet stringent requirements for sustainable building materials, indoor air quality and construction waste management. In fact, the house is being designed to surpass LEED Platinum requirements and become the first Canadian home to fully meet the Living Building Challenge, a new standard for building that takes into account every aspect of sustainability. “We’re excited to be able to undertake the Living Building Challenge,” says Chris Magwood, executive director of the Endeavour Centre. “Simply put, our goal with Canada’s Greenest Home is to make substantial improvements in every measurable aspect of this home’s performance, including net zero energy use, while keeping it affordable, accessible and beautiful.”

Interest in green building has been increasing exponentially over the past decade, but the training of new builders to design, contract and build highly sustainable homes has not kept pace. This five-month, full-time certificate program offered at the  Endeavour Centre is one of the few offerings in the world that allow students a thorough, hands-on opportunity to learn what goes into meeting and exceeding the highest standards of green building. Taught by experts in the field, students learn through hands-on experience how to install cutting-edge green design features, such as energy efficient foundations, prefabricated straw-bale walls, grid-tied photovoltaics and composting toilets. They also learn the theory behind green building in addition to construction business know-how that will allow them to succeed in future projects.

The home built by the students this summer will be put on the market at the end of the program, and proceeds from the sale of the home will help to offset tuition costs. Privately funded with no government grants or public assistance, Magwood hopes this house will be wake-up call to other builders that Canadians are looking to purchase homes based on environmental performance. “A lot of people think we’re far from being able to live lightly, and comfortably, on the planet,” says Magwood. “We’d like this project to show that it’s a goal well within reach.”

Endeavour students will be documenting their progress this spring and summer on the Canada’s Greenest Home blog. Part of the educational component of the project will be tracking the real environmental impacts of the construction of this home, and making the findings public.

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