Research facility designed to be net-positive in seven different ways
Completed in 2011 at the University of British Columbia, the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) houses 200 researchers from private, public and NGO sectors, who work collaboratively toward a common mission: to accelerate sustainability. This 5,675-sq-m 'living lab' maximises passive environmental strategies and demand reduction, and educates by putting sustainable systems on display.
Furthermore, researchers study user interactions with the facility to improve building performance and maximise inhabitant health and well-being. Moving beyond LEED Platinum and registered with the Living Building Challenge, CIRS was designed to be net-positive in seven different ways: net-positive energy; structural carbon neutrality; operational carbon neutrality; net-zero water; turning passive occupants into active inhabitants; promoting health and productivity; and promoting happiness.
CIRS harvests sunlight, captures waste heat from a nearby building, exchanging heating and cooling with the ground and returns 600-megawatt-hours of surplus energy back to campus while removing 170 tonnes of GHG emissions annually. Supplying 100% of the facility's water needs, CIRS collects rainwater for potable use and purifies wastewater in an on-site solar aquatics biofiltration system, which is located in the building's glass-walled southwest corner to engage pedestrians with the project's sustainability goals.
Its wood moment-frame structure constructed of FSC-certified and local pine-beetle-killed wood sequesters 600 tonnes of carbon and provides an open floor plate to allow for flexibility in use and large openings that maximise daylight and views, contributing to the goal of 100% natural daylight and ventilation for each inhabitant. More than a building, CIRS is a research tool that demonstrates the possibilities in sustainable design, serving as a catalyst for change. Publically available tools, the Technical Manual and website (cirs.ubc.ca) were developed to disseminate information, providing lessons learned from the design, construction and operation of the building and on-going updates and actual performance data from the project.