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Running on Rainwater: University of British Columbia’s Sustainable Prototype

UBC Sustainable Prototype

UBC Sustainable Prototype - Photo credit: cirs.ubc.ca

There’s a new flagship sustainable building in Canada. The Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), the newest building on University of British Columbia’s campus, is a complex designed to improve its surroundings, offset carbon emissions and improve residents’ happiness.

Its opening is the result of 10 years of research and planning by UBC professors and a 23 million USD budget. The Center spans 65,000 square feet, accommodates 250 employees, as well as multiple laboratories and a lecture hall. According to architect Peter Rubsy, “it’s the most energy-efficient building in North America.”

The Center’s inner workings match its research goals. From a wood-based infrastructure to a passive ventilation system, CIRS uses as little energy as possible in the most discrete ways. The building’s sewage system, for instance, treats all generated waste into usable water or compost. Doing so onsite is an important size commitment, but the developers placed the system in a sculpture-like cube and hid it under vegetation.

As well as handling its own energy supply, the complex manages the energy consumption of the surrounding university buildings. “The energy collected from its photovoltaic cells can be routed into the university’s overall system,” since the rainwater it collects on its green walls and roof is enough to power the entirety of CIRS.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Research Center is its emphasis on human happiness. The building’s aesthetics have not been sacrificed for efficiency, and its layout still allows people to take shortcuts across the surrounding areas. The idea is to give people a sense of control and reassurance that neither their activity nor the building is harmful to the environment.

The building, like many sustainable buildings, is entering a testing phase. Multiple systems are monitoring the center's output efficiencies and potential energy waste. The data collected over the following years should give the construction industry an idea of these large scale projects’ economic viability.

Read the complete report (source):
"The building that’s beyond green"
Published on Theglobeandmail.com by Frances BULA – April 20, 2012

Learn more: http://cirs.ubc.ca/building/

Posted by: Robert YOUNGBLOOD / Translation English -> French by: Aurélien GIRAULT

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