Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS)

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

CIRS conducts research on sustainable buildings and communities, visualization tools, community engagement and behaviour.

Areas of expertise

Researchers at the 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 (renewable and fossil)
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Forestry and forest-based industries
  • Policy and governance
  • Professional and technical services (including legal services, architecture, engineering)
  • Utilities

Specialized lab



Building Monitoring and Assessment Lab

Two 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 controls .

Assesses building technologies and systems against sustainable performance criteria

BC Hydro Theatre

High-throughput visualization equipment,modelling hardware and software, reconfigurable screens, cameras, servers, audio and video cameras, tele-presence, databases, geo-spatial databases

Scenario visualization and analysis; community engagement and public consultation activities

Indoor Environment Quality Lab

Acoustics research instrumentation, Modelling hardware and software.

Research on daylighting and solar simulation, acoustics and building performance

Policy Lab

Flexible and reconfigurable space and furniture, tele- and video-conference equipment.

Two rooms, retractable partition wall allows workshops, focus groups, video conferencing, large group meetings and community engagement research

Building Simulation Software Lab

Modelling 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 Commons

Electronic 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