Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS)

The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia
What the facility does

Research on sustainable buildings and communities, visualization tools, community engagement and behaviour.

Areas of expertise

Researchers at the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) use their discoveries to accelerate society’s adoption of more sustainable practices. Researchers concentrate on sustainable building design, construction and operation, using visualization tools to engage communities. They also study the application of regenerative sustainability principles at the building and community scales to provide net-positive environmental integrity and human well-being benefits. CIRS also specializes in cognitive and behavioural research; lifecycle assessment and lifecycle costing; pre- and post-occupancy evaluations; building performance evaluations; decision-making tools and processes; information technology and sustainability; community engagement; and applying regenerative sustainability in the built environment. Researchers explore the gap between a building’s predicted environmental performance and its actual performance, and between people’s expressed environmental concerns and their actual behaviour. They also study the gap between the stated goals of environmental policies and bylaws and their actual outcomes.

Research services
  • Sustainable building material and system demonstrations
  • Testing and evaluation of sustainable building systems and components
  • Modelling/simulation
  • Analytics
  • High throughput visualizations
  • Community engagement
  • Scenario generation
  • Cognitive and behavioural studies
  • Sustainability assessment and evaluation
Sectors of application
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Clean technology
  • Construction (including building, civil engineering, specialty trades)
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Forestry and forest-based industries
  • Policy and governance
  • Professional and technical services (including legal services, architecture, engineering)
  • Utilities
Specialized labEquipmentFunction
Building Monitoring and Assessment LabTwo identical unoccupied offices with demountable walls and floor panels, anemometers, thermal couplings, infrared camera, modeling hardware and software; building management system hardware and software, display and video-wall controlsAssesses building technologies and systems against sustainable performance criteria.
BC Hydro TheatreHigh-throughput visualization equipment, modelling hardware and software, reconfigurable screens, cameras, servers, audio and video cameras, tele-presence, databases, geo-spatial databasesScenario visualization and analysis; community engagement and public consultation activities.
Indoor Environment Quality LabAcoustics research instrumentation Research on daylighting and solar simulation, acoustics and building performance.
Indoor Environment Quality Lab

Modelling hardware and software


Research on daylighting and solar simulation, acoustics and building performance.
Policy LabTwo rooms, retractable partition wall and furniture, equipped with tele- and video-conference technologyFlexible and reconfigurable space for workshops, focus groups, video conferencing, large group meetings and community engagement research.
Building Simulation Software LabModelling hardware and software; Lifecycle assessment and lifecycle costing, specialized software and extensive databases.Assess and develops building simulation software; analysis research capabilities.
Science and Technology CommonsElectronic directory, video-wall, audio system, exhibits and displays.Technology demonstration area with display screens.
  • Honeywell International Inc.
  • Haworth Inc.
  • Modern Green Development Co. Ltd.
  • BC Hydro
  • National Research Council Canada