After years of research, design, and construction, the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) and Pomerleau announced that one of Canada’s most eco-efficient buildings is nearing completion. The new Scarborough Campus Student Residence building will be ready to welcome its first round of students in September 2023.

This building, which saw the start of construction in July 2020, is being constructed to the Passive House high-performance building standard, and features many low-energy design elements including high-efficiency insulation and windows as well as building systems that dramatically reduce energy consumption by 40-60 per cent 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. Designed to accommodate first-year students, the new construction also includes an energy efficient cafeteria, 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, a Canadian leader in the construction industry, 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 managed to keep the project milestone on schedule despite the COVID-19 Pandemic, local union strikes and global supply chain issues.

“There are so many interesting elements to this building,” said Michael Faustini, project director, 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.”

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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. 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.”

Arifuzzaman’s hope is that when the University of Toronto (U of T) takes the initiative on ground-breaking projects, like the new Student Residence, and navigates its way through supply chain challenges and finding the right people to build it, this project sets an example for project owners. They can then do similar projects without facing significant unknown risks.

The project has been extremely successful, not only as an inspirational example of what is possible from a sustainability perspective, but also in terms of informing the local construction industry on best practices. U of T in partnership with Pomerleau, have now developed an entire network of designers, contractors and sub trades that have hands-on experience working on a Passive House project. They can now apply those newly acquired skills to drive more sustainable construction projects in the future.

Although the new residence is entering its final phase of construction and is slated to welcome students in September, the partnership between U of T and Pomerleau continues.

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. The building is expected to be among the tallest timber (cross-laminated timber or CLT) and steel hybrid buildings in North America. The erection of the timber structure is expected to commence in Winter 2023.

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Featured image: (Pomerleau)


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