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UBC’s greenest building points to the future optimistically

April 24th, 2012 · 89 Comments

The University of B.C. professor who drove the creation of UBC’s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability makes you feel like there’s hope after all, when you sit down with him for even 10 minutes.

John Robinson is an environmentalist, but not the doomsayer kind that warns you to lie in bed quietly with the lights off so as not to use energy or destroy the planet. He says that message isn’t going to fly anyway, especially with younger people.

His whole mission in work, and life, is to find ways for human activity to improve the planet’s environment.

The latest result: the CIRS building, which he worked on with architects Peter Busby and Martin Nielsen for 10 years.

I wrote about it here, (along with a too-brief highlight on SFU’s new Living Building childcare centre here) recently. They’re both inspiring symbols of the way universities are driving innovation in an area that desperately needs it. Unfortunately, the two biggest projects in B.C. that were meant to symbolize the new wave of green architecture — the Olympic Village in Vancouver and Dockside Green in Victoria — have both been hobbled by some financial clouds that have made people dubious about green building.

But SFU, which managed to bring its building at a lower cost than normal construction, and UBC, which will monitor how people use the building and how it performs to provide a serious evaluation of green building, are both working to demonstrate how green can work, not just environmentally, but financially.

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