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c/o Diamond Schmitt


An innovative new research and teaching facility for the study of environmental sciences and chemistry opened officially last week at the University of Toronto Scarborough. 

Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects and delivered with design-build construction partner EllisDon, the 110,000-square-foot building provides state-of-the-art laboratory and teaching space for some of Canada’s brightest new minds. The project is a showpiece for integrating the requirements of a modern and dynamic post-secondary academic campus plan and meets institutional objectives for stringent sustainable design targets. The facility also features collaborative learning opportunities while providing flexible lab space that ensures adaptability for the ever-changing nature of research and teaching methods. [1]

Opened in 2015, the ESCB is designated LEED Gold Standard and is the second new building at UTSC and at the University of Toronto to achieve this designation. Sustainable features include geothermal boreholes, an Earth Tube system to supply 100 per cent fresh air to the administrative wing, unique fritted glazing to minimize solar heat gain, all LED lighting fixtures and a high-performance curtainwall. [2]

Highlighted among the ESCB’s many sustainable design features; 

– An extensive earth tube system that draws fresh air from the outside to ventilate the air within the building, which reduces overall energy consumption 

– A geothermal heat pump system that uses more than 60 boreholes extending 210 metres (690 feet) into the ground will help cool and heat the building 

– The glazing on the exterior of the building uses thermal breaks to reduce solar heat gain 

– The roof is designed to recycle rainwater by funneling it to large underground cisterns to be used in irrigating the surrounding landscape during dryer months 

– The inside of the building is lit entirely with LED fixtures 

– High performance lab ventilation systems monitors air quality and equipment energy consumption   

– Only materials low in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) were used in the construction of the building interior 

– Low-flow plumbing reduces water consumption throughout the building 

The result is a facility that will achieve an annual energy reduction of 54 per cent compared to standard buildings. The ESCB also becomes the second new building on campus after the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre to receive the designation. [3]

“ This building has a particularly innovative approach to solar shading, creating a dynamic façade and animating interior spaces. This approach carries through to the other environmental systems which are exposed to view, not simply to celebrate the technology, but to monitor performance, facilitate research and identify potential improvements.” 

      —Jury Comments, 2018 Green Building Award

Acting as an educational tool and showpiece for green building technologies, mechanical and electrical support services are left exposed to showcase the complex network of air distribution, support services, sensors, and infrastructure. One of the earth tubes has a translucent portion that passes under the entrance vestibule, where an information kiosk explains the technology. 

The project is a showpiece for integrating the requirements of a modern, sustainable, and dynamic post-secondary academic campus plan. A visual connection between the labs and the exterior support the nature of academic pursuit while strengthening the public realm. [4]



SAB Magazine, Canadian Green Building Award, 2018
OAA Awards, Design Excellence (Finalist), 2018
Ontario Glass and Metal Association, Award of Excellence for Execution, 2018
Ontario Concrete Awards, Sustainable Concrete Construction Award, 2017


[1]        “Environmental Sciences Building Opens at University of Toronto Scarborough.” Canadian Architect, February 7, 2016. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/1003730624/.

[2]         “FACTS: Environmental Science & Chemistry Building.” University of Toronto Scarborough, July 2015. https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/aboutus/sites/utsc.utoronto.ca.aboutus/files/docs/ESCB_Facts_June2016.pdf.

[3]          “U Of T Scarborough Research Building Earns LEED Gold for Being so Green.” University of Toronto Scarborough – News and Events. Accessed June 9, 2021. https://utsc.utoronto.ca/news-events/archived/u-t-scarborough-research-building-earns-leed-gold-being-so-green.

[4]           “Environmental Sciences and Chemistry Building.” Diamond Schmitt, May 4, 2021. https://dsai.ca/projects/environmental-sciences-and-chemistry-building/.

Additional Information

“ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND CHEMISTRY BUILDING – UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO SCARBOROUGH: Diamond Schmitt.” Archello. Accessed June 9, 2021. https://archello.com/project/environmental-science-and-chemistry-building-university-of-toronto-scarborough.

“Environmental Sciences and Chemistry Building, University of Toronto Scarborough.” Architect, February 10, 2016. https://www.architectmagazine.com/project-gallery/environmental-sciences-and-chemistry-building-university-of-toronto-scarborough.

A New Kind of Lab Opens at University of Toronto. Vimeo, 2021. https://vimeo.com/153548256.

“Site Plan: Environmental Science & Chemistry Building.” University of Toronto Scarborough. Diamond Schmitt, July 2015. https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/aboutus/sites/utsc.utoronto.ca.aboutus/files/docs/ESCB_Renderings_September_2014_mobile.pdf.

Sustainable Design Features for a Lab at University of Toronto Scarborough. Vimeo, 2021. https://vimeo.com/100155311.

Project Title: Environmental Science & Chemistry Building
Artists:  Diamond Schmitt
Place: Scarborough, ON

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