University opens 'greenest' building to advance sustainability research and innovation

Date: 07-Nov-11
Author: Chris Philpot

The University of British Columbia has opened the most sustainable building in North America, a $37-million “living laboratory” that will help to regenerate the environment and advance research and innovation on global sustainability challenges.

The Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) reduces UBC’s carbon emissions, powers itself and a neighboring building with renewable and waste energy, creates drinking water from rain and treats wastewater onsite.

CIRS will be an international centre for research, partnership and action on sustainability issues, including green building design and operations, environmental policy and community engagement. Researchers will study users’ interactions with the facility to improve building performance, maximize the happiness, health and productivity of its inhabitants and advance best green building practices at UBC and beyond.

Built to exceed LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge standards, CIRS is one of the few commercial buildings constructed primarily of certified wood and beetle-killed wood (currently B.C.’s largest source of carbon emissions). Its wood structure locks in more than 500 tonnes of carbon, offsetting the GHG emissions that resulted from the use of other non-renewable construction materials in the building such as cement, steel and aluminum.

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