- System Description
- Campus Context
- Goals and Targets
- Lessons Learned
- Future Learning
Image 4.1 CIRS Goals Diagram
4.1 Goals & Targets
The goals and targets of the CIRS project were created to uphold the project vision and accelerate the adoption of sustainable building and development practices. The project goals were functional tools that helped move the design agenda forward. The goals became the benchmark against which the team measured progress and project performance.
Over the course of the design process, the team concluded that in the context of CIRS, the goals must focus on building design with a healthy social and biophysical interior environment for its inhabitants. It must also positively impact the local and global environment. Emphasis was placed on resource use, life cycle impacts, and the interaction between the building and inhabitants. Broadly, the project goals fell into three categories: green, humane and smart.
- CIRS will have a net positive impact on the ecosystem health, at both a local and global scale, while living within and contributing to the biophysical fl ows available within the project site.
- CIRS will provide a socially and biophysically healthy environment for human inhabitation, with the capability to adapt to changing needs over time and continuously improve the health, productivity and happiness of the inhabitants.
- CIRS will integrate the performance of the building with the human inhabitants, through building and system monitoring and information feedback, with the intention of continually testing and improving the green and humane features of the project over time.
Over the course of the project timeline, the CIRS project goals underwent a number of drafts and iterations to inform, direct and benchmark the design process. While the project site was still being designed for the Great Northern Way Campus in 2004-2006, 22 goals were drafted as part of more comprehensive "Sustainable Design Goals and Strategies Matrix". This document divided the goals into clear focus areas and listed between two and 20 strategies for each goal to support achievement.
When the CIRS project moved back to the UBC Vancouver campus in 2008, it was an opportunity to revisit the goals in a new context, taking into consideration advances in technology, process and priorities that had occurred since the project was originally conceived. The goals were re-evaluated and refined during the Revised Design Principles Charette in March 2008, by interdisciplinary groups of stakeholders, including representatives from UBC research and administration, the design team and industry partners. At this time the goals were compiled into a list of 10 guiding principles. The principles, closely related to the project vision, illustrated the intentions and ideals of the overall project. They provided a clear conceptual direction that was easily communicated to a wide range of audiences. The more detailed list of goals and targets, however, became a working tool for the design team in developing the integrated systems and passive strategies that form a high-performing sustainable building.
A key imperative for both the guiding principles and the final goals was to consider the pace of change over the lifetime of the building. The principles and goals were conceived with the flexibility to inspire a building that could adapt to new technologies and practices and support continuous improvement of its impact on ecological and human health.
Summary of Guiding Principles:
(from the Revised Design Principles Charette on March 28, 2008, Charette Proceedings Appendix 3.7)*
- Design with time in mind— anticipate climate change, design for a 100-year life cycle, build to last but allow for change.
- Materials should be selected based on zero waste criteria—design for modification and disassembly, do not use toxic materials. Convert ongoing ‘waste’ streams to useful flows.
- Energy use should have a net positive impact on ecological health—minimize onsite consumption, use renewable energy sources, or harness waste heat from adjacent buildings, or displace energy that was being used by adjacent buildings.
- Water use should have a net positive impact on ecological health; achieve self-sufficiency on the water flows available to the site.
- Site design should produce a net positive impact on ecological health—create additional habitats compared to existing site value.
- Provide instrumentation and controls to allow feedback and learning.
- Produce a core building that exemplifies best practice, economical solutions.
- Provide a comfortable, healthy environment for inhabitants, including 100 percent natural daylit spaces, and temperature and ventilation under local or individual control.
- On an ongoing basis, assess the interaction between the environment provided by the building and the health, productivity, and happiness of those who work and visit it.
- Provide opportunities for inhabitants to connect with each other and the world with a facility that is both functional and beautiful.
The principles and goals were used as tools in a number of ways during the creation of CIRS. The leadership team used them to promote the project to gain financial support, to engage specific groups of stakeholders to build involvement in the project and to communicate the intentions of the project to the public. The design team used them as inspiration, to guide decisions regarding design strategies and to develop creative solutions to challenging problems. While many of the principles and goals for CIRS are simple in concept, they are complex in implementation. Living on water flows available onsite, for example, was a simple clear goal that involved multiple design strategies and required input from several disciplines, as well as health and environmental regulators. The simplicity of the goal, however, made it more effective as a communication tool and allowed for flexibility in developing the strategies to meet it.
UBC as a Living Lab
Through the Living Lab Initiative, the University is expanding its efforts to incorporate sustainability in teaching, research and operations on campus. As part of this initiative, sustainability principles and practices inform future decisions in campus planning, land-use and development. A systems based approach will be undertaken to integrate the building, infrastructure and landscapes on the Vancouver campus to explore sustainable solutions and innovative projects. Lessons learned and components tested in individual pilot projects are evaluated for application to other project or at the larger campus scale.
The project goals and targets supported the 22 guiding principles listed above. It provided a working tool for the design team during the development of CIRS and its systems.
The matrix in Table 4.1 on pages 6-15 contains the complete set of goals and targets used on the CIRS project.
The goals and targets benefitted the CIRS project in the following ways:
Audacious goals attract and excite people. Goals helped stakeholders and the general public understand project intentions and visualize the end result.
Guided Better Decision Making
Goals helped to direct the project over long periods and multiple iterations. They also guided decisions made by the design team and stakeholders throughout the development of the project. Despite the fact that the strategies for CIRS were refined over time, the goals were a consistent narrative was available to remind the design team and stakeholders of the project priorities.
Translated Vision to Reality
The goals translate the vision of the project into reality and provided concrete meaning to conceptual ideas. The CIRS vision is to accelerate sustainability. The goals provided specific objectives that clarified what ‘accelerating sustainability’ meant to different aspects of the project while providing the design team with clear targets to achieve.
Changed the Conversation
Positive goals can help re-frame the conversation about sustainability. The general dialogue about sustainability is often about sacrifice and lifestyle change. Discussing sustainability as having positive impacts on both the environment and humans resonated with many people who were presented with the CIRS vision.
Aligned Goals to Funding Sources
Setting challenging goals attracted unusual sources of funding to the project. Support from the funding agencies brought credibility to the project. Strategies and goals that were externally funded were less likely to be removed from the project by either the owner or the design team.
The goals and targets of the CIRS project were challenging to implement in the following ways:
Resolving Conflicting Goals
One of the original goals of the CIRS project was to have an experimental building with the capability of continually changing components and systems to test different technologies and configurations. . Another goal was for CIRS to be a high-performing building in certain key metrics (including energy use and water consumption). There is some conflict between these goals as an experimental building does not always represent the best performing building, due to the uncertain success of some experiments. In the final design, the core of the project became a high-performance building with certain systems and components maintaining significant testing capabilities.
Preventing Design Compromises
Not all goals established at the outset of the design process could be met as the design and construction of the building progressed. For example, the offices blocks were designed to accommodate a mix of open and closed office spaces, in amounts that would allow for 100 per cent daylighting and natural cross-ventilation. The tenant fit-outs resulted in significantly more closed offices than was originally intended, which limited the effectiveness of the passive strategies and necessitating more supplementary artificial lighting and mechanical ventilation.
The experience gained through the using the goals and targets for CIRS provided valuable lessons to apply to future projects. Some of the key lessons are:
Tie Funding to Goals
Tie goals to funding to make them more robust and reduce the risk of weakening or elimination.
One goal may inherently be in conflict with another and priorities must be determined. The building context may limit the application of certain approaches but creative solutions must ensure achievement of the broader goals.
Make Distinctions between Goals and Strategies
Goals are high-level objectives, distinct from the strategies used to achieve them. Goals should persist throughout the duration of a project, despite changes in design and context. Strategies depend on the opportunities available in a specific context of a project.
Develop Simple but Compelling Goals
Simple goals are easy to communicate and sustain throughout the project. Use the goals to service the project vision. Make them personal to spur on the design team, engage a variety of stakeholders, and appeal to the public.