The building itself, including its energy and water systems and the people in it, the building inhabitants, as well as the process of planning, designing, building, commissioning and operating CIRS are part of the CIRS research agenda. Think of CIRS as a 5,675-square-metre piece of research equipment, a test-bed for testing, studying and demonstrating innovative building components and new sustainable technologies. Endowed with a network of more than 3,000 sensors and a state-of-the-art building management system (BMS), CIRS endeavors to share the performance data and lessons learned from our ongoing operations, so that others can learn from our successes and failures.
Data resulting from the CIRS building’s resource use and systems’ functioning is documented and analyzed in an ongoing basis. As our knowledge of the systems’ performance and the associated sensing, metering, monitoring and controls evolves, performance representations in report documents will be improved and expand over time.
As a living laboratory for urban sustainability innovations, an evolving building like CIRS is a work in progress where in addition to ongoing research, outreach and education initiatives, there are ongoing efforts to address building system performance shortcomings and to increase energy and water efficiency, and to create a better place for CIRS inhabitants to work.
Current optimization projects include:
This project will ensure that no electric lights remain on in public and service areas of the building when there are adequate levels of natural light in these areas. The work includes the installation of additional photocells, occupancy sensors, switches and timers throughout the building. Additionally, as the existing fluorescent lamps fail they are being replaced with longer life light-emitting diode (LED) lamps that provide equal or better illumination and use substantially less energy. The majority of this work has already been implemented and require only fine-tuning. Lighting electrical consumption has decreased after the lights were added to the photocells.
Water Systems Engineering Review
UBC Building Operations conducted an engineering audit of the rainwater harvesting and reclaimed water treatment systems. Due to some lingering deficiencies these systems have never operated continuously. In accordance with the engineering report recommendations, unreliable and undersized components were replaced or adjusted. The wastewater system is in the initial stages of operational testing. Once this project is completed both the wastewater and the rain water systems will be fully operational.
In partnership with Builtspace, CIRS is developing a web-based interface that will allow building inhabitants to engage more directly with the building management system (BMS), access information on building performance and have increased control over the indoor environment in their individual spaces.
Earth and Ocean Sciences Rooftop Unit Upgrades
CIRS draws waste heat from the EOS building and supplies upgraded heat in return. This reduces the amount of steam consumed by EOS which is supplied by the campus district energy system. This results in a net reduction of campus natural gas consumption and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The rooftop air-handling units of EOS had reached the end of their useful life and as such were replaced with more energy-efficient units. This provided an opportunity to correct a deficiency of the CIRS-EOS energy system that was preventing CIRS from contributing a significant amount of upgraded heat to EOS. The system is now fully operational and over the winter (heating season) it will be possible to evaluate it’s performance and identify the need for potential adjustments.
Sustainable Technology Testing Platform
CIRS is currently collaborating with UBC Project Services to design and build a roof platform made of metal supports and grates and an adjacent instrumentation room that will enable the study of the performance and efficiency of different types of renewable energy systems, including solar thermal panels, photovoltaic cells, PV + thermal panels, wind turbines, etc.