Event: Canada Foundation for Innovation Dialogues at UBC Robson Square presents John Robinson – a public lecture on regenerative building design
Date/Time: 6-7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012
Location: Room C150, UBC Robson Square, 800 Robson Street, Vancouver
Details: Introduction by Prof. Raymond Cole, UBC School of Architecture. Everyone welcome. Admissions free, no RSVP necessary. Talk will be followed by Q&A and light refreshments. Visit innovation.ca or aaas.ubc.ca for more info.
John Robinson, Executive Director of the UBC Sustainability Initiative, thinks much of the green movement misses the point. The traditional thinking on sustainability focuses on the need to reduce human activity in order to save the environment from ruin. But what if human activity could actually heal the environment? What if the commercial and residential buildings popping up around the world could improve the well-being of their inhabitants while making positive contributions to the environment?
Robinson and collaborator, UBC architecture professor Raymond Cole, will share their unique vision in regenerative sustainability Feb. 1 at the Canada Foundation for Innovation Dialogues at UBC Robson Square lecture series.
“The implications of this approach are profound,” says John Robinson, director of UBC’s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS). “If human activity can be regenerative, then it need not necessarily be minimized. The focus shifts from reducing harm to improving benefit.”
Robinson and his team at UBC are walking this talk. In November 2011, with support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, UBC opened CIRS, North America’s greenest building. This structure is designed to restore the environment and improve the wellbeing of its inhabitants. Its “net positive” environmental impacts include:
- Energy: By capturing energy from the sun, the ground and the nearby Earth and Ocean Sciences (EOS) building, CIRS heats itself and returns 600 megawatt hours of surplus energy back to campus.
- Operational carbon: CIRS’ operations require no fossil fuel and the surplus energy CIRS returns to EOS removes an additional 150 tonnes of GHG emissions annually through reduced natural gas use.
- Structural carbon: CIRS’ wood structure locks in more than 600 tonnes of carbon, offsetting GHG emissions from non-renewable materials used in the building’s construction, including cement, steel and aluminum.
- Water: CIRS will satisfy the water needs of 200 inhabitants, plus hundreds of auditorium and café users, by capturing rain and treating it onsite. Water that can’t be used for drinking will recharge the local aquifer.
“We also want CIRS to be net positive in human terms,” says Robinson. “We are measuring productivity, health and happiness of the building inhabitants with a goal of improvement in all these areas over time.”
CIRS is a test-bed for how organizations can implement regenerative sustainability. The CIRS website reports in real-time on key sustainability indicators and the team hopes that others can benefit from the best practices developed at the centre.
In the lead-up to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting this month in Vancouver, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the University of British Columbia are teaming up to present a four-part lecture series celebrating Canadian innovation. These lectures will cover a range of Canadian research, from brain imaging, to child development, to quantum computing. Details are available at www.innovation.ca and aaas.ubc.ca.
About the Canada Foundation for Innovation
The Canada Foundation for Innovation gives researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI is helping to attract and retain the world’s top talent, to train the next generation of researchers, to support private-sector innovation and to create high-quality jobs that strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life for all Canadians. For more information, visit innovation.ca.