The University of British Columbia’s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) will be a candidate to be regarded as one of the greenest buildings in North America once it is completed. The building, which is presently under construction in Vancouver, is not only a superb example of sustainability in building design, but its purpose is to foster and accelerate sustainability and to bring together researchers, businesses, and nonprofits to work collaboratively on issues of sustainability.
Despite the fact that we are now living in the 21st century, aerogel insulation seems like a material out of science-fiction. It is the lightest solid known, although by volume it is 99% air. It is breathable, but it doesn't absorb water. It is incredibly strong for its weight. But most importantly, it is a fantastic insulator.
Water efficiency is an important measure in green building everywhere, but in Australia — one of the driest countries in the world — water conservation is more widely practiced and water awareness is generally higher than it is in North America. In addition to pioneering water efficiency, Australians have discovered some problems due to the use of efficient, low-flow fixtures. One is the potential problem of "dry drains," however, a new invention called the Drainwave aims to solve the problem.
Chicago has a new 82-story tower on its skyline that is due for completion in the Spring of 2010. But in a city of grids and rectilinear forms, the AQUA tower has a distinctive character with a more fluid appearance coming from the deep projecting balconies which are reminiscent of geologic rock formations. Designed by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects, AQUA is also currently the tallest structure designed by a woman-led firm.