Stale air in offices could soon become a past phenomenon thanks to the Hamburg-based Breeze start-up. Indoor air pollution is a major health risk and can send workspace productivity plunging and the average sickness absence soaring, studies have found. Such offices are simply unpleasant. Breeze has come up with intelligent sensors that measure pollutants like carbon and nitrogen oxides, ozone particulate matter in a large office in just 30 seconds. Based on the measurements, clients receive suggestions on how to improve the air quality. Robert Heinecke, Sascha Kuntze and Jan Rübbelke are the brain behind Breeze’s technology.
Funding from TUHH-Startup Dock
Several mid sized companies in Hamburg and the Ruhr Valley are currently testing the sensors and the trio eventually hope to use the technology in urban areas. Heinecke got the inspiration for the technology during a stay in Istanbul. He explained: “The air was full of smog during winter. It was so bad that you could even feel it on your skin and in your lungs.”
On his return to Germany, he and his co-founders, who were working in a consultancy parallel to their studies, put their heads together and came up with the idea for the sensors. Since the launch in 2015, seven more employees specialising in IT and sustainability have joined the team in the Startup Dock at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH).
Analysis of problem linked to solutions
An environmental analytics cloud platform gathers real-time data from Breeze air quality sensors as well as external data sources. The cloud is linked to a catalogue containing around 3,500 measures e.g. a wall full of algae, traffic management based on air quality or wall paint that filters contaminants for improving the quality of air. The Breeze cloud platform can help facility management, environmental scientists, municipality management and governments to understand air quality, its influences and how to improve it. This in turn saves costs.
The Breeze sensors have proven successful in pilot tests, Heinecke noted: “The sensors in one large office traced the bad air quality to employees’ cars parked close to the building. The car park was switched to another part of the company’s site and the quality of air in the office improved noticeably.“ Copier machines, heating systems, printers and dirty filters in air conditioning systems can also pollute the air.
Smart city project planned in Hamburg
In June, Breeze will install sensors on streetlamps in a suburb of Hamburg as part of a smart city project. The sensors measure nine centimetres in diameter and gauge the amount of dust, ozone and nitrogen in the air. The company is due to announce more details in the coming weeks. The first sensors for use in office spaces are due to go into production in late 2017. “The sensor technology for indoors and outdoors areas is quite similar. Our outdoor sensors require minimum alterations before going into serial production,“ Heinecke announced.
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