Recipient of RAIC’s 2015 Green Building Award: Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) at UBC

A Vancouver research institute, designed to be one of the most sustainable buildings in North America, will receive the 2015 Green Building Award.

The award, given by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) and the Canada Green Building Council, recognizes outstanding achievement in buildings that are environmentally responsible and promote the health and well-being of users.

The Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) was completed in 2011. The architect is Peter Busby, FRAIC, of Perkins + Will, a global architecture firm with offices in Canada.

In the words of the three-member jury, “With a strong focus on natural light and ventilation, the CIRS integrates a full range of sustainable design strategies. CIRS uses both passive and innovative approaches to sustainability to create architecture that is also a tool for research. It offers many strategies that are transferable to other building types.”

The award will be presented at the RAIC Festival of Architecture, which takes place in Calgary June 3-6, in collaboration with the Alberta Association of Architects.

Conceived by Nobel laureate and UBC environmental scientist John Robinson, the CIRS is an internationally recognized research institution whose mission is to accelerate the adoption of sustainable building and urban development.

“The significance of this year’s green building award is clear,” says RAIC president Sam Oboh, FRAIC. “The future of designing sustainable built environments is as much about the ways in which we think, work and interact, as it is about lowering that energy consumption of our workplace. The CIRS’s design not only assists the research occurring inside the building, but its presence on the UBC campus adds to an international dialogue on the integration of cutting-edge sustainable practices.”

The LEED Platinum-certified building houses 200 people from private, public, and non-government organization sectors who work together to advance innovation and implementation of in sustainable technology and building practices.

The 5,675-square-metre structure is one of the few buildings worldwide that is considered regenerative. It achieves net-positive energy, net-zero water, and net-zero carbon in construction and operations.

Pursuing the Living Building Challenge, the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard, the CIRS harvests sunlight, captures waste heat from a nearby building, and exchanges heating and cooling with the ground. It returns 600-megawatt-hours of surplus energy back to campus while removing 170 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

Says Peter Busby, originally from Vancouver and now based in San Francisco, “This award reaffirms the distinct position that advanced, sustainable design holds in the pantheon of design excellence in Canada. I and my team are deeply appreciative.”

The jury members:

• Vancouver architect Darryl Condon, FRAIC

• Toronto architect Douglas Birkenshaw, FRAIC

• Halifax architect Susan Fitzgerald, MRAIC


The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada is a voluntary national association, representing 4,800 members. The RAIC advocates for excellence in the built environment, works to demonstrate how design enhances the quality of life and promotes responsible architecture in addressing important issues of society.

For more information, visit