Dedicated to sustainable,
high performance building

2014 AWARD-WINNING PROJECT: Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, Vancouver

A benchmark project with respect to the implementation of green building strategies in Canada. Given its scale, the risks taken by the client and design team in the name of research are huge. Spaces are warm, interesting and well lit, and the metrics are beginning to confirm that this is a very high-performance building.

Accommodating 200 private and public sector researchers, CIRS was conceived as a tool to demonstrate the possibilities in sustainable design and construction. Serving as a catalyst for change, its structure and environmental systems were chosen to be practical, economical and transferable.

The 5,675m2 ‘living lab’ is organized around two four-storey wings, linked by a central atrium, from which all of the project’s sustainable strategies are visible. The remainder of the program includes academic offices, a variety of teaching and laboratory spaces, an auditorium and a cafe.

The CIRS building has embraced the ambitious sustainability goals of the Living Building Challenge, including those of net zero water consumption; waste water treatment on site; net zero energy consumption, and construction and operational carbon neutrality.

Through a simple system, rainwater is harvested from the high-albedo roofs, stored in a below-ground cistern, filtered, disinfected onsite, and distributed through the building for potable water applications. Using a solar aquatics biofiltration system, 100% of the building’s wastewater is reclaimed, treated and reused within the facility.

CIRS harvests sunlight with building-integrated photovoltaics, captures waste heat from a nearby building, and exchanges heating and cooling with the ground to achieve net-positive energy on an annual basis. The building’s U-shaped plan contributes to the goal of 100% natural daylight and ventilation for all inhabitants. Building-integrated photovoltaics [accounting for almost 10% of energy], shade operable windows, and the western facade’s living solar screen is planted with deciduous vines that over time will provide seasonal solar shading.

A heat recovery system captures waste heat in the exhaust ventilation from the fume hoods on the adjacent Earth and Ocean Sciences building, transferring it to the heat pumps in CIRS. The heat pumps provide heating and cooling for the building through the radiant slabs and a displacement ventilation system.

Client University of British Columbia Sustainability Initiative
Architect Perkins+Will
Structural Engineer Fast + Epp
Mechanical and Electrical Engineer Stantec
Civil Engineer Core Group Consultants
Geotechnical Consultant Trow Associates Inc.
Landscape Consultant PWL Partnership
Interior Design Perkins+Will
Code Consultant LMDG Building Code Consultants
Building Envelope Consultant Morrison Hershfield Limited
Acoustic Consultant BKL Consultants
Audio Visual Consultant MC Squared System Design Group
Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment Haworth
Construction Management Heatherbrae Construction
Owner Representative UBC Properties Trust
Wastewater Consultant Eco-Tek Ecological Technologies
Rainwater Consultant NovaTec Consultants
Photos Martin Tessler

Glulam structure, masonry and stone, vegetated roofing, vegetated facade [living wall] by GreenScreen . Finished concrete, carpet tile, raised flooring; low-VOC paint by General Paints [Sherwin Williams ] . Building-integrated photovoltaics and solar collector array, heat recovery system captures waste heat from adjacent building for transfer to heat pumps.

– Energy Intensity [building and process energy] = 420MJ/m2/year

– Energy cost savings relative to NMECB = 68%

– Potable water consumption from municipal sources = 0L/occupant/year

– Potable water consumption savings relative to reference building = 100%

– Recycled material content by value = 20.5%

– Regional materials content [800km radius] by value = 30.5%

– Proportion of construction waste recycled = 89%