CIRS Building

Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability

The Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) was developed in response to the challenge of creating a more sustainable built environment. Its intention is to be an internationally recognized research institution that accelerates the adoption of sustainable building technologies and sustainable urban development practices in society. Research within the Centre engages issues related to, and which shape, sustainable buildings and urban development patterns. Such research requires understanding complex cross-scale and cross-discipline issues and developing new concepts and tools that are integrative, synthetic and which actively create positive synergies between systems.

Our vision and mission statement that shapes the sustainability research undertaken in CIRS is guided by a number of considerations:

1. Interdisciplinary

The ways and extent that social processes interface with the technical systems is critical to achieving successful sustainability outcomes and thereby necessitating interdisciplinary approaches to research.

2. Cross-Scale

Sustainable urban development is an increasingly significant realm of enquiry for the framing of building design strategies. As such, understanding of links and relationships between buildings and their larger context, both environmental and social, assumes greater importance.

3. Net Positive

Whereas green design is primarily directed at “doing less harm” or, more generally, reducing the degenerative consequences of human activity on the health and integrity of ecological systems, research in CIRS embraces the notion of buildings potentially offering a “net positive” performance in both resource and human terms.

4. Urgency

While cognizant that fundamental societal transformations are long-term, research in CIRS is primarily interested in redirecting current design and planning practices by finding and engaging approaches that can affect the greatest positive change in the shortest possible time.

5. Partnerships

Consistent with UBC’s aspiration to be an agent of change that teaches future sustainability leaders, conducts important research and ensures that the University’s private, public and NGO partners take the outcomes of its inquiries into the marketplace, CIRS engages with a broad range of partners to accelerate change.

The CIRS building is central to much of the Centre’s on-going research programs and initiatives. Officially opened in November 2011 and designed to operate at the frontier of sustainable performance in both environmental and human terms, it serves as a living laboratory of, and research test-bed for, sustainable practice over its lifetime.The building and its constituent labs permit us to model the performance of innovative sustainable technologies and test them in situ. Its state-of- the-art communications capabilities facilitate community outreach programs and help visualise future sustainable futures.