qlair - Air Quality Analytics Solution

Originally posted on Mann+Hummel. By: Harald Kettenbach and Miriam Teige

Supported by the #Plug and Play environment the start-up company qlair offers an Air Quality Analytics Solution that makes use of building and pollution data to optimize Clean Air services and products. It’s not about collecting the data, but making sense of the data received, and developing a solution based on cognitive computing. Through advanced computing and A/I, we are working with new tools for data analytics. It’s the next phase of IoT, taking the complex datasets that the hardware is generating and understanding exactly what to do with that data.

Going Beyond IoT: Intelligent Air Solutions

Ludwigsburg / Sprockhövel, October 16, 2018 – Back in the 1980’s, the term “sick building syndrome” was coined to describe ailments caused by improperly ventilated buildings. Over the past 40 years, vast improvements and building standards were initiated to ensure that the indoor air quality is safe to those inside. Today, high-tech sensors accumulate great amounts of data, informing building owners exactly what kind of contaminants are in the air. But often, building operators and facility managers have no idea what to do with the big data collected. The big question… “What does the data collected tell us about the air quality, and what steps can be taken to fix air quality issues?”

Supported by the #Plug and Play environment (https://www.plugandplaytechcenter.com), the start-up company qlair offers an Air Quality Analytics Solution that makes use of building and pollution data to optimize Clean Air services and products. It’s not about collecting the data, but making sense of the data received, and developing a solution based on cognitive computing. Through advanced computing and A/I, we are working with new tools for data analytics. It’s the next phase of IoT, taking the complex datasets that the hardware is generating and understanding exactly what to do with that data.”


Problem case commercial buildings

Commercial buildings are one of the most inefficient systems out there. Many HVAC systems are only regulated by temperature and CO2 concentration. As a result, six out of ten buildings are dangerous, as the pollutant load is at least twice as high as in outdoor areas. In particular, the estimated 60% of all companies that have an employee welfare program should pay attention, because clean air is the fourth most important criterion for employee protection.

Today's air quality management is reactive, i.e. it only intervenes when building users complain about stuffy air or odors. However, studies show that labor productivity correlates with air quality. This is another reason why there is a great interest in continuously ensuring healthy air in the workplace. Many building managers place sensors on site to monitor air quality. However, these sensors do not tell you how to solve a problem that has been identified, which is why building managers often do not know what to do.


Fast reacting solutions for better air quality

qlair addresses this problem by paving the way for intelligent ventilation systems. Filtration here means service and knowledge, which enables a self-controlled fine adjustment of the aeration system. Based on the large amounts of data provided by highly developed sensors, measurements are taken and individual recommendations developed to provide the best possible remedy for poor air quality.

This makes it possible to increase ventilation efficiency and thus also the productivity of building users by improving air quality. Ultimately, this can even have a positive effect on the energy balance if ventilation, heating and air conditioning are based on actual demand. qlair recognizes patterns of pollution and makes forecasts for up to eight hours. On this basis, air purification systems can actively provide good air.

Intelligent technology can filter out the really useful information from air quality data that is not always directly related to indoor air quality. The system continuously analyses a wide range of data, including the number of people in the room, the building zone and cleaning times. These and other special features can have a significant impact on the quality of the air we breathe.


The next step on the way to intelligent filtration

qlair works closely with building management companies, maintenance companies and manufacturers of HVAC systems and sensors to further develop the system. qlair is currently undergoing pilot tests with building managers.


Study: Allen, Joseph G., Piers MacNaughton, Usha Satish, Suresh Santanam, Jose Vallarino, and John D. Spengler. 2015. “Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers: A Controlled Exposure Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments.” Environmental Health Perspectives 124 (6): 805-812. doi:10.1289/ehp.1510037. http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510037.

Meet 5 Startups Working on Big Energy Ideas

Originally Posted on GreenBiz.com. By: Katie Fehrenbacher

The close-to-30 startups that presented at an event held by accelerator Plug and Play in Sunnyvale, California, this week were, for the most part, focused on applying technologies to big energy challenges. Entrepreneurs took the stage and pitched ideas around creating better batteries, managing an influx of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and demand, and using artificial intelligence to make building energy and solar work better.

It's always refreshing to attend a Silicon Valley startup event with (gasp) actual investors and corporates in the audience, and see companies referencing climate change and carbon emissions in their presentations. Plug and Play, which is uniquely focused on connecting startups and larger companies, is one of the rare incubators that has an "energy and sustainability" track with dozens of viable startups in it.

There was no lack of big ideas and also, quite frankly, heart on display. One co-founder of a company — battery startup Salient Energy CEO Ryan Brown — quipped in his pitch that prior to when he co-founded the company he'd spent a year working in investment banking before he "discovered my soul." Love that. Although Brown probably will have to revisit that sentiment if he needs to raise a lot of money or go public.

Here are five of my favorite companies, ideas, and pitches from Plug and Play's energy and sustainability-focused track:

1) Breezi: The company's tagline touts its fitness tracker for HVAC systems. While I'm not sure consumers will buy into getting a sensor gadget for their heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment (particularly at $50 a pop), I really liked the technology and idea behind this product.

It's a small sensor gadget that you insert into the HVAC air filter (just push it through anywhere). Breezi uses audio sensors and AI to determine what exactly is going wrong with the system. The company's app can make suggestions about when the filter needs to be changed and suggest other best practices for making HVAC as efficient as possible.

Brent Parsons, Breezi's consumer product manager who pitched at the Plug and Play gathering, said that company's team has a background in predictive maintenance and vibration studies and is doing pilots with utilities and insurance companies. The sensor is called AirPulse, and there's a refrigeration-related one in the works as well called CoolPulse.

is it a coincidence that the company's website and product design looks a lot like Nest (owned by Google)? Probably. But maybe it'd be a good Nest/Google acquihire.

2) Constructis: One of the more unusual startups I've encountered, the company makes devices that are placed on roads and collect kinetic energy as vehicles drive over it. Think of it as a smart speed bump that harvests vehicle energy. It's also an Escondito, California-based veteran-owned company, so how's that for different?

The amount of energy collected by the road device might be so small that it'll be hard to justify the investment of putting out the infrastructure. But on a much larger scale, with a lower cost of production and energy generation, this type of thing could be valuable.

3) QlairThe reason I like this product is because I desperately want it for my own home. Indoor air pollution is something that no one really thinks about unless they live in: an older apartment with multiple floors and units; or — a big city in China, India or another Asian country. Hello, hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people.

In big cities in China, the idea of an air quality "event" isn't all that uncommon. That's when the air quality gets so poor that cities advise residents to stay indoors and turn their air cleaning systems on. Qlair CEO Ellie Amirnasr said at the Plug and Play event that the startup's air pollution forecasting system can predict poor air quality events eight hours in advance and can prevent residents from having adverse reactions such as asthma attacks.

4) WeaveGrid: While I wasn't able to see WeaveGrid's pitch — as it was late in the afternoon — I got to chat with WeaveGrid's Apoorv Bhargava in the lunch line and got the gist. The company taps into electric vehicle charging data and can optimize EV charging for customers such as utilities.

Some neighborhoods are facing major overloads on grid gear in certain locations because of pockets of Teslas plugging into the grid at 6 p.m. when residents get home from work. WeaveGrid dynamically can manage the charging of the EVs in regions and use the data collected to help residents make smarter charging decisions. In that respect, you can think of this product as akin to an Opower demand response device, albeit one specifically focused on EV charging.

5) HST Solar: This startup is actually a pretty mature company, having been part of Elemental Excelerator and founded four years ago. Co-founder and CEO Santanov Chaudruhi said during its pitch that HST Solar would be profitable this year.

The company builds solar software, including one app that uses AI to design utility-scale solar farms. A solar developer can design the layout of a solar farm — which might have thousands of panels — across various landscapes and around barriers such as trees or hills. Chaudruhi said that designing these solar systems using the AI software can make the solar farms have a 10 percent to 20 percent lower cost of energy than when the solar farm is designed manually.

"9 foundations of a healthy building" is a great start

Originally posted on TreeHugger. By Lloyd Alter

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health keeps it simple and short.

For the last few years we have been going on about The Healthy Home, as we become more aware of the dangers from the stuff we build with or bring into our homes. We have made our own recommendations for Ten things to do to have a healthy home, but now the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has published The 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building that are concise and easy to use, responding to complaints like “Your research is very interesting, but I can’t take a scientific paper into my meeting on Monday and convince a building owner or manager to do things differently. I need a short summary.” (Funny how almost all real estate types have short attention spans)

The nine foundations are intact designed to be "a clear and actionable distillation of the core elements of healthy indoor environments." It's a wonderful document that is layers deep; you start with the image where you can click on each foundation, then you get a paragraph summary, then you get detail with references.

The 9 Foundations curated summaries are designed to be a clear and actionable distillation of the core elements of healthy indoor environments. For each, we created a 2-page summary of the underlying science, fully cited back to the primary literature. These summaries are included in the following pages, along with a short guide for how to achieve each foundation. The 9 Foundations apply universally to all building types, including homes, but the supporting text focuses mainly on commercial office environments.

It isn't as detailed as, say, the Well Standard, but it gets pretty sophisticated in its discussion of lighting and "thermal health" The little one-paragraph summaries are perhaps too short with too little information and sometimes can be misleading; under air quality they say "Limit vapor intrusion by using a vapor barrier." That's just wrong, and is not explained or discussed in the longer Air Quality section.

In the Thermal Health section, they do a sophisticated explanation of what thermal health and comfort is, but don't actually suggest anything but installing air conditioning to prevent buildings from overheating. One sentence seems to mix up air quality and thermal health in a way that makes it almost meaningless: "A study on workplace thermal conditions and health impacts observed that workers experienced itchy, watery eyes, headaches, and throat irritation when thermal factors such as ventilation, humidity, and heat were unfavorable."

The document is a work in progress; Professor Joseph Allen writes that "We began with these 9 Foundations and plan to add to this collection." For instance, they have a box underneath discussing Active Design, which along with Universal Design should probably be rolled in as a Foundation.

It's not perfect, but for real estate types with short attention spans, it is a great start. Download it from 9 foundations for health.

Plug and Play Summit: Building Energy

Originally posted on Clean Tech Concepts. By: Tom Breunig

If you’re looking for the next wave of energy technology that’s just over the horizon, you don’t have to go much farther than Plug and Play’s Summer Summit, which took place this week. While accelerators are sprouting like spring leaves, the Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale is one of the venerable grandparents of the industry. And Plug and Play is itself opening new accelerators around the world, from China to Germany.

It also has one of the first energy start-up groups, which accepts a new cohort every quarter, helping the young companies with everything from message crystallization, to presentations, technology and financial connections, customer and partner introductions, and even venture money.

This year’s Summer Summit cohort offered a glimpse of what we can expect to see in the next years as the energy industry narrows and fine tunes its technology in vital sectors from renewables to energy storage, IoT efficiencies, and wastewater treatment. Given that the built environment is responsible for 40% of carbon emissions, there was a strong focus on building-related energy efficiency, air quality, and energy storage. AI and data analytics was clearly a thread throughout the day, reflecting the need to evaluate and adjust building energy use patterns in real time.

The energy/sustainability session opened up with Circuitmeter, a Canadian company focused on making building energy use visible in real time accompanied by analytics that identifies elements of the system that are operating unnecessarily or inefficiently. Not only does it offer the real time energy view, but in contrast to standard industrial meters that cost $2000 per circuit, Circuitmeter’s meters pencil out at a mere $30-60 each. The company is seeking $5M in Series A investment and anticipates $10M in revenue within a year after funding. Not a bad ROI.

If you’re a fan of NEST, you may like Enviosystems, a smart building enabler with universal plug and play capability. Its key benefits reside in the company’s sleek CUBE box — literally a black box — and BASE software with advanced algorithms for real-time information on all aspects of the building’s operation, predictive modeling, remote management, and preemptive maintenance alerts.   Importantly, the application is open source and accepts third-party APIs for add-on capability. The company has made significant headway and says it is already overwhelmed with orders including orders from the world’s largest construction company. They expect to hit $100,000 in revenue this year and $1M next year. They are finishing up a $6M Series A round with $1M still available. The funding will help them deliver on orders they already have. You’d better hurry. The company’s table was swamped.

buildings, energy, power savings, AI, smartbuilding

Enviosystems CEO Reza Alaghehband chats with a large group of interested parties at Plug and Play’s Summer Summit 18.

Continuing on the designer/plug and play theme, you’ll want to take a look at Orison’s website. This start-up has developed what may be the most versatile and aesthetically pleasing energy storage solution for homeowners and businesses. One product, available soon, is a wall-mounted thin battery panel, the size of a large painting, that illuminates your indoor environment with warm LED light — with a choice of 16 million colors. Just hang it up and plug it in. Of course, you can also cover it with a variety of “skins” to fit in with your decor. The configuration is expandable — by adding panels you can increase your energy reliance to a maximum of 13.2 kilowatt-hours per principal device. The other product, a slim, elegant tower, combines energy storage with a high-end bluetooth speaker and more LED lighting. The objective is to help eliminate soft costs to make renewable energy affordable for everyone from homeowners to residential and business renters.

If you’re in an area that suffers from intermittent black-outs, brown-outs, or you’re just remote and off the grid, you may be fed up with the hassle, cost and (not to be overlooked) the noise of the diesel generator you are forced to rely on. This is especially important if you need to power air conditioning to work or study, which is the case in many developing countries. The market is ripe. New Delhi, for example, recently banned diesel generators during the winter months. YouSolar, a Plug and Play accelerator company, has a solution for getting your home or commercial building off the generator. The firm, whose mission is “to wipe diesel off the planet,” has built an end-to-end solar-to-storage system that significantly undercuts the cost and inconvenience of diesel generators. It is plug and play, modular and expandable for any configuration, predicts energy production and usage, and requires no utility company approvals. Additionally, the system can be used where customers have no net metering from their utilities. YouSolar is seeking a pre-Series A round of up to $750K prior to a $5M Series A in the fall, with expected revenues of $1M within the next 12 months.

Australian company Solar Analytics is in the unique position of having 18,000 active systems already deployed. Not bad for a young start-up that has created a monitor that fits inside your meter box to help you track solar system performance, including energy usage, net electricity bought and sold, when and how you are loading your system, and how you could be saving money. Additionally, it sends you diagnostic and maintenance alerts when needed. They use the “Internet of Energy” to provide services and work with more than 400 resellers and 5 utilities. They are seeking $250K t0 $1M and connections to U.S. partners.

A young firm called Qlair played a supporting role at the event. The company is applying to be part of the energy accelerator after completing a quarter in the real estate tech group. They also fit nicely into the built environment theme, offering a sophisticated system that monitors and optimizes indoor air quality for commercial buildings. The problem of air quality has only recently begun to be attacked, with a number of new solutions emerging (see this month’s article on Diatomix). Driven by concerns about mold, allergens, foreign matter, chemical use, off-gassing, and tighter buildings, such firms as Qlair are prepared to take on the challenge of managing air quality. Qlair accomplishes its objective by through software, using AI to analyze sensor data on everything from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to particulate matter like benzine. Its software is agnostic and can incorporate data from any sensor system to create a real time picture of air quality, actionable insights and develop a predictive capability over time. The company is funded by its parent Mann+Hummel, and is focused on acquiring U.S. partners and customers interested in setting up paid pilot programs.

battery, renewables, solar, wind, Plug and Play

The Orison energy storage panel, which also provides warm LED lighting, can be mounted on any wall. While holding less power than the Tesla PowerWall, it requires no electrician to install it. You can even get different “skins” for it to blend with your decor.

Linkedin Post

In the 1980’s diseases arose by improperly ventilated buildings. Nowadays, sensors accumulate great amounts of data that provides information about contaminants in the air. Supported by Plug and Play, the start-up company qlair offers an Air Quality Analysis Solution to correctly interpret received data. Find out more about the start-up company qlair at Chillventa 2018!