Ecobee’s Ethereal Toronto Lakeside Lab

Ecobee is behind the game-changing technology that is getting people to think differently about their home energy—one smart thermostat at a time.

Serial entrepreneur Stuart Lombard founded the Toronto-based hardware company in 2007 after becoming frustrated by the unreliable standard thermostat in his family home.

Lombard was already on a mission to reduce his family’s carbon footprint and save money. With heating and cooling being the largest contributors to home energy use, he decided to build his own thermostat.

That personal pursuit resulted in ecobee, a company that builds smart home products that are easy to install and discrete while serving up big rewards through energy savings.

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Ecobee released its first wifi-enabled thermostat in 2009 and gave consumers the power to remotely adjust their home temperature through a smartphone application.

Since the first ecobee thermostat entered the market, the hardware company has rapidly added new functionalities and features to upgraded devices. Room temperature sensors were rolled out in 2014 to manage a home’s hot and cold spots, Apple Watch integration came a year later, and then in 2017, ecobee launched built-in Amazon Alexa Voice Service.

Today, ecobee holds more than a third of the smart thermostat market share, with competitors Nest and Honeywell emerging in the burgeoning home tech space. Using an ecobee will save homeowners nearly a quarter on the cost of their heating and cooling each year.

In ten years, ecobee has grown to nearly 300 employees. With steady growth on the horizon, ecobee needed a new, inspiring home that reflected the company’s eco-driven mission and was twice as big. The company moved into a lakeside space in Toronto’s Harbourfront at the end of October.

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Polished concrete floor runs throughout ecobee’s new expansive and airy office with collaborative areas branching off the main corridors. Designed by Ray, park-like benches and bright green carpets establish more intimate meeting areas where teams can convene. Boardrooms maintain the space’s outdoor vibe, encased in steel factory-style windows.

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Beehive-inspired dropped lighting, a mix of untreated and reclaimed wood, and exposed brick walls subtly reflect the company’s commitment to sustainability. Ecobee sought to pay homage to the company’s Canadian roots with design elements inspired by the country’s nature and beautiful outdoors—a key part of Canada’s identity.

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The open concept office also has designated labs to foster creativity and innovation for ecobee’s engineering and product development teams. Complete with a pegboard and high-tech tools, the new Hardware Lab was modeled after the concept that everything starts in the garage. Here, the product team can quickly prototype and test new products.

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Get your hands on the latest prototyped products in the Hardware Lab—3D printed or not.

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In the Audio Lab, teams tweak and refine ecobee’s voice-enabled devices, whereas the Creative Lab encourages whiteboarding, storytelling and collaboration to dream up new ideas.

The Library is an earmark quiet space for employees to escape the hustle and bustle of the open concept office.

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Just like the working space, ecobee’s kitchen and dining hall is light-filled and open. Cupboards are stocked with weekly deliveries of fresh, organic fruit and snacks. Keeping with the community-feel, coffee is provided by a local cafe that was started by a former ecobee employee.

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The company’s very own cooking club puts on a monthly potluck around a culinary theme; this past month, that meant brunch.

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Culture & Education

Ecobee’s mission is to make a meaningful difference for the environment while helping to shape the connected home revolution through their hardware. On the weekly demo day, the entire team sees how they’re contributing towards that goal with a chance to share their latest work.

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Community is a strong sentiment at the company. Every quarter, ecobee employees are granted a volunteer day to spend with their choice of a local charity or non-profit.

To reward ecobee loyalty, employees can take a paid one-month sabbatical after hitting the five year-mark with the company. Ecobee also pays out referral bonuses to employees that recommend a new hire, something that 27 employees have reaped the rewards from so far this year.

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Ecobee employees can tap into $1,500 each year to put towards continuing education. Lunch and learns are also hosted in-house on a range of topics, from digital accessibility to the science of persuasion.

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An all-staff meeting each quarter gives employees a chance to connect over pizza, beer and wine and talk shop or just catch up. Ping pong is optional.

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Every Thursday, ecobee hosts a drink-fuelled board game night in the kitchen. Not interested in Settlers of Catan? Employees can join the audiobook club that meets every other week to discuss a podcast or novel they listened to.

Each December, ecobee celebrates the holiday season with dinner, drinks and dancing. With a little help from the company’s very own band The ecoBeatles, everyone comes together on the dance floor.

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On sunny days, employees can stroll along the boardwalk or hop on a ferry to nearby Toronto Island for a quick escape.

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UPDATE: Check out Ecobee’s video which displays the new office and its features:

Photos by Matt Odynski

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