Building Systems

The CIRS Building Manual contains descriptions of the design and construction of the building, including the sustainable features and systems, and documented lessons learned.

The chapters relating to the different building systems are listed below.


Structural Systems:

Constructed of mass-timber, CIRS has a simple structural design comprised of a combination of pre-fabricated glulam members, dimensional lumber, plywood and concrete. The moment frame structure was designed to create an open, column-free floor plate for flexibility of use and interior arrangements, as well as to allow for large openings in the walls that maximize daylight and views.

View the Structural Systems Chapter of the manual for more details.

Building Materials:

During the design of CIRS, both the ecological and human health impacts of building materials, as well as the visual and tactile expression of those materials, were considered along with cost, durability and maintenance requirements.

View the Building Materials Chapter of the manual for more details.

Energy Systems:

CIRS was design to supply not only its own energy needs but also a portion of the needs of an adjacent building, by harvesting renewable and waste energy. A high-performance building envelope, passive design strategies and energy efficient equipment were used to minimize the building energy loads. Multiple systems such as a heat recovery system, heat pumps, energy exchange system, roof evacuated tube array, and photo-voltaic cells work together to serve the different needs in the building and use energy efficiently.

View the Energy Systems Chapter of the manual for more details.

Rainwater System:

CIRS was designed to be entirely water self-sufficient, with all of the potable water in the building supplied by the rain that falls on the building roofs. A simple system collects rainwater from the roofs of the building and stores it in a cistern, which also provides back-up water supply for the sprinkler system. The rainwater is to be filtered and disinfected onsite and distributed through the building for potable water applications.

View the Rainwater System Chapter of the manual for more details.

Reclaimed Water:

CIRS was designed to reclaim the wastewater from the building, treat it onsite and reuse it  for toilet flushing and irrigation within the building. The Solar Aquatic System, located in an isolated glass walled room, is an ecologically engineered system based on processes existing in nature that consume human biological waste to produce clean water.

View the Reclaimed Water Chapter of the manual for more details.


A number of criteria were examined when considering site placement, including the long term land use and development plans for the campus, synergies with other campus institutions and infrastructure, and the desire to feature projects demonstrating the University’s commitment to sustainability.

View the Landscape Chapter of the manual for more details.

Living Roof & Living Wall:

The living wall and living roof are part of the building’s visual display of ecologically integrated building systems, demonstrating the nature of the research institution, as well as performing a multitude of ecological services. The living roof is an important part of the building’s water management strategy and is planted with native plants that provide habitat for local animals and insects. The living wall provides solar shading and enhances the public face of the building.

View the Living Roof & Living Wall Chapter of the manual for more details.


One of the original goals of the CIRS project was to create a building that was 100 per cent daylit. The building orientation and programming directly reflect the site’s daylight opportunities and the varied lighting needs throughout the building. The daylighting strategy is supplemented by a variety of artificial lighting strategies, depending on the use and illumination needs of the space.

View the Lighting Chapter of the manual for more details.


Ventilation at CIRS is provided through a mixed mode system. The building utilizes passive natural ventilation strategies, operable windows, cross ventilation, and mechanical ventilation to serve the different needs and requirements of spaces and inhabitants.

View the Ventilation Chapter of the manual for more details.