SBDC 2006
I spent the summer of 2006 in Northern Ontario participating in a course offered by Fleming College on Sustainable Building Design and Construction taught by Chris Magwood. It was also my first taste of what construction from the ground up was like.

The construction phase of the course consisted of a 1,200 sq.ft. building for Kinark Outdoor Education Centre near Minden, Ontario. This building will be the welcoming centre and classroom for the clients of Kinark (school children, mentally and physically challenged children, other youths and tourists). The building will become the showcase piece for Kinark in its commitment to sustainability, innovative learning and client care.

The syllabus consisted of a five-week crash-course on building science and sustainable building techniques followed by fifteen weeks of construction. Each student had to lead one aspect of the building and was a team member in two other areas (although this does not limit one to only three activities). Through a "lucky draw" (I use the term lightly), I chose Solar Domestic Hot Water (SDHW) as my main focus and was a team member for Documentation and Exterior Wall Finishes/Plastering. I also got to notch all the structural members of this building which is what really got me interested in timber framing.

* Fully accessible, single story, 1,200 square feet
* Double wall rammed earth bag foundation with insulation spacer
* Cordwood masonry columns
* Round Hemlock log roof rafters
* Straw bale wall insulation
* Curved stud wall with rammed light clay/straw fill
* Earthen plaster finish
* Passive-solar heating and shading design
* Eastern white cedar roof shingles
* Solar hot water system
* Rainwater collection for toilet and hand-washing
* Peat-based septic system
* Solar light tubes for interior daylighting
* Off-grid, renewable solar photovoltaic electricity
* Storage of summer attic heat underground for winter comfort
* Curved rammed earth-bag internal partition with radiant heat tubes
* Very low embodied energy
* Extensive use of recycled, re-used, and locally available materials

For more information about the centre, the course and a full photo gallery, please visit:>>



Frame and roof members up. Frame was a mix of round hemlock, cordwood columns of scrap log home cut-offs and LVLs. Roof was round hemlock.

Straw bales in-fill. Glass bottles in wall for light. Tubes hanging down are part of the annualized geothermal system.

Interior of building. Round 1/2 wall is made of earth bags with PEX piping to conduct heat to the wall and thus, radiate out (thermal mass).

Cordwood bench for children and others.

Interior system of solar domestic hot water system.

Front of building, looking south. Building to the left is the Power Shed which houses the PV system. The shed is a load bearing straw bale building with a green roof.

Rear of building. The solar collector for the hot water system is in the southwest corner of the buidling.