On-Site Magazine

Passive House residence to be ready for fall

By Adam Freill   

Construction Green Construction

Pomerleau-built student residence at University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus set to welcome first students in September.

The new U of T Scarborough Campus Student Residence, being constructed to the Passive House high-performance building standard, is expected to be 40 to 60 per cent more energy efficient than conventional buildings. (CNW Group/Pomerleau)

After years of research, design, and construction, one of Canada’s most eco-efficient buildings is nearing completion. The University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) and Pomerleau have announced that the new Scarborough Campus Student Residence building will be ready to welcome its first round of students in September.

The building, which started construction in July of 2020, is being built to the Passive House high-performance building standard. It features numerous low-energy design elements, including high-efficiency insulation and windows as well as building systems that are designed to dramatically reduce energy consumption. Expectations are for a 40 to 60 per cent improvement compared to conventional buildings.

Doubling the current residence capacity at the UTSC campus, the 24,620-square-metre building houses 746 beds with single, double and wheelchair accessible suites. It also includes an energy efficient cafeteria, a common area for learning workshops, two suites for visiting scholars, a dining room, administrative offices, and several mixed-used spaces. A rooftop garden and terrace are also planned for future development.

Pomerleau was awarded the design-bridge-build contract to help achieve the sustainable architectural design and energy efficiency standards required for Passive House certification. Together, with its local trade partners, Pomerleau has kept the project on schedule despite having to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, labour challenges and global supply chain issues.


“There are so many interesting elements to this building,” said Michael Faustini, project director at Pomerleau. “The mechanical system is designed to recuperate heat and energy. We have a pit in the basement that captures all the hot water from showers and uses it as a heat source, and the heat from the commercial kitchen in the cafeteria is also captured and reused. The construction of the building envelope had to be so perfect and detail-oriented that an on-site mock-up was built to ensure the process was clear to all parties prior to final installation.”

Andrew Arifuzzaman, chief administrative officer for UTSC, explained that the new building is an important one for the university and that undertaking a project of this scale and complexity requires significant levels of planning and collaboration.

“We needed to build a new student residence, and whenever we do new projects on campus, we’re always looking for innovative ways to incorporate sustainability,” he explained. “The Passive House standard represents an optimal way to build healthy, climate-resilient, affordable, and energy-efficient buildings through all stages of design, construction and livability.”

Pomerleau has four active contracts with U of T, including a new 14-storey educational facility above the existing Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport. Once completed, the building is expected to be among the tallest timber and steel hybrid buildings in North America.





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