This building has caught the attention of Passive House researchers around the world because it demonstrates how an industrial structure, constructed with wood, in a northern climate exceeds a rigorous, internationally recognized energy efficiency standard.
The Wood Innovation Research Lab (WIRL) at the University of Northern British Columbia gives students and researchers much needed space to test state-of-the-art building systems. The WIRL is noteworthy in that it is the first industrial building in North America certified to rigorous Passive House energy standards. Certified Passive House buildings use up to 90 per cent less energy for heating and cooling and up to 70 per cent less energy overall compared with standard buildings.
The WIRL is a single-storey mass timber structure, composed of glue laminated timber (glulam) columns and beams on a concrete raft slab foundation. The building is 10-metres in height and consists of high-head lab space, classrooms and office space. The 10-metre tall wall panels are framed with prefabricated 0.5-metre thick upright wood trusses. Sheet goods used to sheathe the floors, roof and wall assemblies were left exposed to provide the interior finish for the lab portion of the building.