University of Toronto Scarborough Campus

Scarborough, Ontario

The University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) recognizes the Passive House standard as the future of sustainable architectural design and is aiming to enhance student experience by collaborating with innovative architectural practices in providing state-of-the-art and environmentally friendly facilities.

Renderings courtesy of KMAI and DoHere
Kearns Mancini Architects
Mechanical and Electrical
Integral Group
Structural Engineer
Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd.

Kearns Mancini Architects (KMAI) was tasked with designing a large student residence in Scarborough that would fully comply with the Passive House standard. The proposed accommodation facility comprises approximately 26,000 square metres and will house a transient population of roughly 1,000 people at any given time.

Key facilities include a full commercial kitchen, a large dining facility, and 750 separate student residences, with individual micro refrigerators and computers, as well as 340 washrooms. Ground level will house a proposed retail space, a large food court, and a loading dock.


Few Passive House examples compare with this project in scale, energy demand, and climate variation. This made it imperative for UTSC to be able to test the building using an appropriate procurement strategy, so that it could evaluate the building’s performance while ensuring that its requirements for a student residence were met.

Thus even before construction the project has become a pedagogical model of a high-performance building in the design and construction industry as well as among local government, investors, contractors, and professional building consultants.

Passive House Metrics
Heating demand 9.1 kWh/m²a
Cooling and dehumidification demand 5.7 kWh/m²a
Primary energy demand 71.3 kWh/m²a
Air leakage 0.6 ACH₅₀ (design)

Unlike smaller buildings, the facility does not principally rely on solar gain for its heating. Instead, all internal thermal gains—generated within the building by people and equipment—are utilized. Unusually for KMAI, the primary concern was to arrange and orient the spaces to provide sufficient cooling. The building envelope is designed to achieve an R-41 (effective) insulation value, and the utmost care has been taken to ensure that the building is airtight and free of thermal bridging to prevent unwanted heat transfer. Triple-glazed windows with integrated shading devices will limit the heat load, while an ERV system will maintain the air temperature and quality.  

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