The IAMI Building is a state-of-the-art facility for research into next generation, life-saving medical isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals. On top of the advanced scientific innovations within this building, IAMI aims to serve as an example for green building practices for laboratories.

This five storey 2,800m2 building, located on TRIUMF’s Campus within UBC, comprises of an integrated series of labs, offices, and two cyclotrons. The TR-24 medical cyclotron is one of the most technologically advanced commerical cyclotrons in the world. Additionally, this building must follow the requirements and regulations of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and Health Canada cGMP. For the base building, IAMI targets LEED v4 CS Silver accreditation.

Cross section view of IAMI
IAMI TR-24 cyclotron schematic


The IAMI building has a variety of energy intensive requirements to achieve its scientific goals. This involves 24 hour use, clean rooms which require 100% fresh outside air due to Health Canada regulations, and an energy-intensive cyclotron process load which emits a large amount of heat and accounts for one third of energy use. The cyclotron radiation also limited the possible types of building cladding. 


As well, Health Canada cGMP standards limited the material possibilities since they do not permit the use of materials that are prone to decay or deterioration, which includes materials with a biodegradable base or potienal for biodegradable additives.


The design was faced with many constraints through the CSA (Canadian Standards Association), CNSC, and Health Canada cGMP. On top of this, the team went through a value engineering exercise mid-design due to budget constraints.

The team was committed to green design, so despite these challenges, IAMI achieves best practices in terms of energy efficiency, water conservation, and air quality. To do this and save fifty percent of energy use in spite of being one of the most energy and carbon intensive building types is no small feat.
This result was achieved through an integrative process of collaboration with all project stakeholders throughout the planning, design, and construction. This process ensured the smooth and meaningful decision-making which led the project to success.

IAMI aerial view from north west
By using the sun to its advantage, the IAMI building is able to reach best practices in energy efficiency

Energy-saving and Carbon-Equivalent Emissions Reduction Approach

The team succeeded at minimized energy use through innovative design strategies to optimize energy use. This critical eye caused the team to use excess heat recovery from cooling the lab and cyclotron for space heating and domestic water preheating. Early in the design, a building energy simulation was conducted to help the team make meaningful decisions to save energy. Late in construction, this simulation was updated to confirm that the consumption is indeed 51% below the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) 90.1-2016 standard baseline in comparison with a similar building with a lab and cyclotron.


During the building use, energy will be monintored using an advanced energy sub-metering system by the operations team to spot any unusual consumption and to monitor energy saving over time.  

Implementation of a Sustainable Laboratory Program

TRIUMF IAMI has developed a Sustainable Laboratory Program Implementation Plan, which was inspired by UBC Green Labs Program. Green Labs is a UBC program that supports researchers to reduce the environmental impact of laboratory-based activities by implementing sustainable practices and technologies. This initiative aims at promoting the use of sustainable practices and technologies to reduce energy useage, water consumption, solid waste, and hazardous waste production in laboratories. 


TRIUMF IAMI set targets under these categories to measure its performance over time. 

IAMI aerial with forest and bay in background

Water-Saving Approach

The water saving approach was limited by cost and requirements to maintain a sterile environment. Despite these restrictions, the team implemented low flow fixtures, drought tolerant vegetation and a system which ensures that no once-through potable water is used for laboratory equipment and the cooling tower.

User Comfort

User comfort was a top priority in the design. The building is located on the edge of Pacific Spirit park, a 90-hectare forest. This creates a connection to the natural world, which in turn requires a design for the inhabitants of the forest. The team primarily considered the local birds, and used fret on glazed surfaces to provide the birds visual cues to prevent collisions. Furthermore, the building offices spaces are oriented south with large windows to give occupants plenty of daylight and views of the forest.