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First-year student Reva Birla, in a black shirt, mauve hoodie and ripped blue jeans, is sitting on the side of her bed next to a large, black suitcase and looking out the window of her dorm room.
Reva Birla. Photo by Don Campbell

Living in Harmony

For Reva Birla, a cozy new home. For U of T Scarborough, a student residence that meets one of the most energy-efficient design standards in the world

More than a few tears were shed between Reva Birla and her parents as they hugged each other goodbye. They had just finished moving the first-year student into her new residence room at U of T Scarborough.

“It was obviously a very emotional moment with my parents,” says Birla, who is studying co-op molecular biology and biotechnology. “At the same time, I’m also very excited to start university.”

Birla joined 746 other first-year students moving into Harmony Commons, U of T Scarborough’s new nine-storey student residence at the corner of Ellesmere Road and Military Trail. The residence features single- and double-occupancy rooms with high ceilings, giving each room a modern, open-concept feel. The building’s large dining hall located on the main floor has a variety of nutritious options and comfort foods. There are mixed-use spaces and lounges throughout the building, as well as a rooftop garden and terrace.

Harmony Commons also happens to be North America’s largest passive house building – an energy-efficient design standard that is among the most rigorous in the world. The residence’s energy-saving features include triple-glazed windows, walls with improved thermal performance and continuous insulation, among others. The result is that it consumes 40 to 60 per cent less energy than conventional buildings.

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