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U of T Scarborough home to Canada's largest Passive House building

Nine-storey Harmony Commons Student Residence developed by Fengate Asset Mgmt.

Harmony Commons Student Residence at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. (Courtesy Fengate Asset Management)
Harmony Commons Student Residence at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. (Courtesy Fengate Asset Management)

The Harmony Commons Student Residence developed by Fengate Asset Management for the University of Toronto Scarborough campus has been certified as Canada’s largest Passive House Classic structure. 

The state-of-the-art, purpose-built structure is a nine-storey tower which provides accommodations for 746 students. It comprises 24,620 square meters (265,000 square feet).

Harmony Commons was constructed on behalf of investor the LiUNA Pension Fund of Central and Eastern Canada (LPFCEC), one of Fengate’s largest investors.

“Achieving Passive House certification for Harmony Commons is the embodiment of LiUNA and Fengate’s values of sustainability and community. This achievement is just one of the substantive steps Fengate has taken in putting our commitment towards environmental, social, and governance (ESG) into action,” Jaime McKenna, president of Fengate Real Estate, said in the announcement.

“By placing an emphasis on energy efficiency and longevity, we pave the way for future generations to thrive in environmentally responsible spaces.”

Building includes amenities for student use

In addition to the accommodations, Harmony Commons offers residents a number of on-site amenities including a dining hall, common lounge and study space on each floor, outdoor roof garden and terrace, community kitchen, laundry facilities and indoor bicycle storage.

“Student housing plays a crucial role in bringing individuals from various backgrounds together, enriching their educational experience and preparing them for a globalized world,” Joseph Mancinelli, LiUNA’s international vice-president and regional manager for Central and Eastern Canada, said in the announcement.

“LiUNA is proud to invest in Harmony Commons, the largest Passive House certified building in Canada that delivers sustainable student housing options that match the world-class educational offering of the University.”

Fengate and the university forged a partnership to develop the residence and fill a need for student housing at the campus. The deal involved a debt investment to fund the construction, and an equity take-out to purchase an interest in the project along with a long-term land lease with the university. 

The University of Toronto continues to own the land and operates the student residence.

“Harmony Commons is more than an infrastructure project — the impact goes beyond our campus. We’ve showed the industry that this type of project can be done in this market and at this scale,” Andrew Arifuzzaman, U of T Scarborough’s chief administrative officer, said in the announcement.

“Through Harmony Commons, we’ve proven that Passive House is an attainable standard for future large-scale developments.”

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