News & Insights

Passive House in Practice: High Efficiency in Higher Education

Passive House in Practice: High Efficiency in Higher Education

Insights & Perspectives
U of Toronto

Passive House is a standard for efficiency, resulting in ultra-low energy buildings, particularly in heating or cooling.

Passive House principles bring great value to higher education institutions, with a wide range of benefits including incentives for occupants; more comfortable learning environments, specially designed and purpose-oriented spaces, and eco-friendly credentials that draw in and retain sustainably conscious students and staff.

Integral Group has delivered several projects across Canada that showcase how Passive House performs in practice.



Indigenous House at the University of Toronto Scarborough exemplifies how natural ventilation and the architecture of a building can allow outdoor air to flow through indoor spaces, facilitating cultural values through intelligent building solutions.

The use of natural ventilation will facilitate and encourage smudging, the ceremonial burning of sacred plants such as cedar to remove negative energy, a practice common to many Indigenous people. Heat detectors are utilized in place of smoke detectors to prevent nuisance alarms.

Fresh air is drawn in through a central totem positioned in front of the building and drawn underground through the earth, using the consistent temperature of the ground to preheat or precool the outdoor air serving the building. This air, drawn from the ‘earth tube’, is distributed through the entire building from a high-efficiency Passive House certified ERV, guaranteeing 80%+ energy recovery.

Based on the suggested design, the project is set to achieve 40% energy consumption savings and 46% energy cost savings, allowing these savings to be funneled back into the community.

The building siting and construction will adhere to Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s ‘top of bank’ setbacks and ravine protection requirements.


UTSC Student

University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC) is constructing a new dormitory-style student residence on campus to address the increasing demand for on-campus accommodation. The proposed 750-bed, multi-story residence building, will include a mix of private and dormitory-style accommodations, as well as student support and academic services, including student housing and residence life offices.

While enjoying a meal in the ground floor dining hall, which will serve over 1,600 meals per day, students will also be minimizing carbon emissions through the use of electricity in the accompanying kitchen. A heat recovery system will also capture waste energy from the shower drain and will use heat pumps to pre-heat incoming cold water for domestic storage tanks. The campus will provide a comfortable space for students whatever the weather, with air-cooled variable refrigerant flow to be installed throughout the building to heat and cool based on solar orientation.

The residence building will be Canada’s largest Passive House project to date when complete.

The University of Toronto Scarborough Campus is a leading-edge, large post-secondary Passive House project that has excellent thermal and energy performance and will be a model for future buildings. Mike Godawa, Senior Principal.



The new student residence of the University of Victoria, which will consist of 780 bedrooms with associated lounge and study spaces to create a go-to hub for students, is being constructed under Passive House mechanical design guidance. The project is targeting Passive House and LEED Gold Certification with the first phase planned to reach completion in 2022.

The university can take pride in the eco-credentials of a fully electrified commercial kitchen with no use of natural gas or combustion. Unused energy is also being maximized with waste heat from the kitchen refrigeration system of low-temperature freezers being recovered for domestic hot water production.

A fully automated natural ventilation system provides free cooling to the buildings, creating a comfortable space for students to socialize and enjoy their studies.

Want to learn more about Integral Group’s Passive House expertise?

Reach out to us at, and view our Passive House brochure below:

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