Numerous challenges – including climate change, rapid urbanization, degradation of the biosphere and ecosystems, securing healthy food and clean water for an expanding population – are facing cities and societies around the world. The built environment is a critical factor in the severity of these challenges and represents one of the greatest opportunities to effect change toward a more sustainable future.

UBC’s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) was established in response to these challenges, and the urgent need to create more sustainable building and communities. CIRS is the flagship project of UBC’s Campus as a Living Lab Initiative, which approaches campus buildings and infrastructure as unique opportunities to demonstrate innovation while advancing research and teaching. This deep integration of operational and academic efforts reaches across traditional boundaries of disciplines, sectors and geographies to affect change.

While the campus serves as the focal point of much of the research, it also incorporates local and regional project and opportunities. The research involves close collaborations between academic researchers and external partners such as government agencies, business and industry, NGOs and community organizations. Through this research UBC seeks to accelerate the adoption of sustainable building and urban development practices and policies, creating more resilient and healthy neighbourhoods, cities and regions.