A collection space for my personal and professional works, as a portfolio, a curriculum vitae and as a personal record for myself.

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Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability

Overview

The CIRS building, or Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, in Vancouver was conceived as a landmark facility dedicated to ‘integrated’ research into all aspects of sustainable construction and energy generation, promoting itself as an exemplar of how we can build sustainability.

In addition to the numerous ‘green’ technologies, such as photovoltaic arrays, geothermal heat pumps and thermal solar collectors, the building, for the first time boasts a fully-integrated feedback system allowing the user to constantly monitor energy performance with a view to continuous improvement of operation, and informing the future of sustainable construction.

The most visually-impressive aspect of the design is the living wall, an external façade system employing vegetation to achieve the necessary shading to the glass curtain wall behind. Water collected from the roof is fed to planters at the base of every level, which supply the necessary hydration and nutrition to sustain a complete façade of climbing plants.

Date

April 4, 2010

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The Living Wall

The ‘Living Wall’ provides a precedent for dynamic façade with the capability to respond to seasonal variations to afford greater/lesser solar access through the winter/summer months respectively.

Planters are mounted at each floor level on the exterior of the building, accompanied by a tubular aluminium framework and galvanised steel grating, and a stainless steel mesh screen to provide a medium upon which the vines can grow.

Resilient climbing plants, specially-selected for their ability to grow thick foliage in the summer months and drop their leaves during the autumn, provide a seasonal variation to the amount of shade afforded to the interior spaces. Greater solar access is afforded during the colder, darker winter months, and less during the warmer summer months, to limit solar heat gain.

This dynamic façade, located in view of the busy street below provides an illustrative example of how the building responds to the climatic conditions, which educates the general public, and raises consciousness of the problems it is aiming to combat.

The other important benefit of the façade is the addition of planting to the urban environment, able to create evaporative cooling to combat urban heat island effect in the dense urban setting, and also clean the city air, providing oxygenation of city environment.

Water Systems

The high occupancy of the CIRS building and the nature of facilities housed (including a large cafeteria), posed a challenge for water conservation in the building, making net-zero water use near impossible. With this in mind, the building seeks to minimise municipal water consumption through rainwater collection and treatment for potable water use in the building. In addition to this, the building employs a solar aquatic bio-filtration system to treat the cycled grey and black wastewater from the building, which feeds an infiltration bioswale to allow the treated water to naturally percolate into the ground, thus minimising the overall reliance upon municipal wastewater systems.

Energy Systems

As a building developed to be an exemplar of how to build more sustainably, the CIRS building makes use of a number of readily-available, off-the-shelf technologies to demonstrate the necessary, multi-faceted approach to energy generation that collectively contributes to overall building sustainability.

In terms of heating, the building employs groundwater heat pumps coupled with a heat exchanger to supply hot water direct to the radiant concrete floor slabs across the building. This is capable of meeting the majority of heating needs throughout the year. To complement this system, an array of roof-mounted, solar thermal collectors are able to supply for the majority of domestic hot water to meet occupancy requirements.

The electricity needed for the pumping of both systems is generated through a photovoltaic array mounted on the roof and south façade of the building, which also supplies the buildings various electrical systems, without any additional CO2 consumption.

Gallery

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