Usually once a home is built, the builder hands the keys over to the new owner and unless there’s a problem, the builder moves on to the next project. However, in the case of a straw-bale built home in Peterborough, the home has been lived in for the past year and all water and energy consumed has been recorded. The goal was to see if, in fact, the home is Canada’s greenest home. You can read all about its features in the article I wrote last year. Chris Magwood, director of the Endeavour Centre, whose students built the home emphasizes that it’s not supposed to be a competition, it’s meant to demonstrate that building a green home is achievable using currently available technology that is locally available.

Since there is no definition or standard available that would define the greenest home in operation today, we can say that given the data they have collected over the year of use, the home is pretty darn green — especially in comparison to the average stick-built home constructed today. As Chris notes on the project’s blog:

Government forecasts show that the US expects about 1,000,000 new home starts per month in 2015, and Canada expects about 190,000. If all of those homes reduced their energy use by the same amount as this project, that would be 89,250,000 gigajoules of energy savings, 189,210,000 liters of water saved, and 156,017,330 gigajoules of saved embodied energy. Those are meaningful numbers (the equivalent of the output of many nuclear generating stations!), and they are immediately achievable. (source)

Below are some of the stats that regardless of whether it is the greenest home in Canada, it is by far, one of the lowest impact home around — both in terms of its construction, as well as operation.

Here are some of the highlights:

House in use:

Energy Use (over one year)

Endeavour HouseOntario Average1
8867 kilowatt hours measured total use (includes heating and all plug loads)Average for 2,500 square foot home built after 1996
31.92 gigajoules107 gigajoules

70% reduction in annual energy use

Water Use (over one year)

Endeavour HouseOntario Average2
197.42 liters per day for 3 usersAverage for residential use in Ontario
65.8 liters per person per day225 liters per person per day

71% reduction in annual water use

Construction of the Home:

Embodied Energy

Endeavour HouseConventional Home Construction
Straw bale walls, Durisol foundation, solid wood decking, steel roof2×6 walls, ICF foundation, plywood decking, asphalt shingle roof
146,437 megajoules3277,544 megajoules3

48% reduction in embodied energy use

131.1 GJ reduction is equivalent of 4.1 years of building energy use

Construction Waste

Endeavour HouseCanadian Homebuilding Average
81% diversion from landfillAverage of 8,000 pounds per 2,000 square foot house
852 pounds of landfill8,000 pounds of landfill4

89% reduction in landfill waste

Perhaps best of all, Chris Magwood points out that it was built with “off the shelf” building materials, 90% of which were sourced within 250 km from where it was built, without any grants or R&D funds necessary.

Cost: The final cost (not including land) came in at $185/square foot, and could be as low as $165/square foot without adding the solar panels, rain water catchment system or composting toilet. However, given that the solar panels produced a $2000 income, it might be worthwhile keeping them.

According to Chris this house is easily replicable, can be used for multi-unit dwellings and affordable housing projects.

If you would like more information about this project, please contact:

For a free, 100-page PDF book about the building of this house, go to:

You can see the construction blog for this home at:

BEC Green

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