The Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), located in Vancouver, British Columbia, is an interdisciplinary academic centre; the building is home to multiple research projects and the subject of ongoing studies on the long-term effects of sustainable design, construction and operation.
CIRS is expected to be UBC’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Platinum Building, and is on track to receive Living Building Challenge recognition. It is also envisioned as a new baseline in sustainable buildings, for other projects to strive to surpass.
The structure of CIRS is a hybrid system. The basement and ground level auditorium are cast-in-place concrete, with a roof of curved glulam beams supporting a solid wood roof over the auditorium. The upper floors have a frame of engineered wood members supporting a solid wood floor assembly. This floor and roof assembly is composed of lumber and plywood decking and performs to a 1-hour fire rating at each floor level.
Due to the size of the members and the bulk of the system, the wood frame and assembly combination are considered to be heavy timber construction under the British Columbia Building Code. This designation allows the structure to be exposed without the need for additional fireproofing materials.
The decision to use wood was in keeping with the regenerative concept of CIRS. Wood is one of the most sustainable building materials on the planet: trees grow using energy from the sun and provide valuable ecosystem services such as releasing oxygen into the atmosphere, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, creating habitats, as well as providing shade and cooling. All of the wood used in CIRS was sourced from the sustainably managed forests of British Columbia.
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