Understanding and Valuing Air Quality: Airsset’s Origin Story

When it comes to buildings, most people would agree that indoor air quality often seems like a forgotten design consideration. Through good intentions (a focus on energy savings for climate change reasons), and poor policy (building codes that focus only on ventilation minimums), buildings now focus primarily on energy and not on thermal comfort or good indoor environments. This had started to change with LEED and other green building rating systems that added an entire section on indoor air quality (IAQ), but in reality, because of the weighting of the system on energy, the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) sections (which cover air quality and thermal comfort) didn’t get the attention that they deserved.  

At a consulting level at Edge, we started seeing this even more in Vancouver, Canada with the introduction of building insulation and envelope focused codes in 2016. Soon after, we were called into newly completed buildings with overheating and indoor air quality issues. At the time, we did our best to quantify the indoor air quality issues with sensors, but it was difficult to give both real-time information about what was happening in the space and to tie all this together into conclusions about how to most effectively solve the issues created through code changes that didn’t address human comfort and air quality.  

Thus, began the multi-year process of creating a software and hardware platform to help bring about better spaces. The idea was that data driven decisions are better placed for complex decisions like those in buildings.  

After a 5-year process of client discovery, problem solving with partners and finding the best hardware partners, we were able to launch Airsset separately from Edge. It was built to help us use data to inform decisions. The platform needed to simultaneously give us real-time information from a variety of device types, while also processing it into something that was easier for most people to understand. The platform was built not just for those who understand the intricacies of building science and indoor air quality, but also for those in human resources or finance so that everyone could understand the implications of improving the places where we spend 90% of our time.  

Fast forward to March of 2020 when we were inundated by requests to help better understand indoor air quality. Even now, many companies are being inundated with ionization or filtering technology claiming to be able to eradicate viruses (spoiler alert…they can’t).  

A client recently asked our Edge team whether they should spend $250k on ionization technology for their offices. We advised that it’s best to create a baseline and develop your understanding rather than spending on a solution right away. Knowing the air quality issues in a space before spending on a solution makes far more sense. If you have humidity issues (a common problem and why viruses spread more in winter), then ionization won’t help solve that problem.  

We believe that solutions should be made after reviewing good data. With Airsset’s roots in building engineering, we believe that finding the most cost-effective solutions are often found in HVAC and controls improvements (often very low cost). The Airsset system provides detailed monthly reports reviewed by an expert to help suggest improvements (either from Edge or the growing network of local Airsset partners). You also have full access to a dashboard where you can display air quality to occupants or for your own purposes such as setting alerts for key team members. Airsset is also sensor agnostic so our software can connect to a variety of sensor types and manufacturers. 

In a very short time, the Airsset team has been busy with implementations in healthcare facilities, schools, offices, daycares and many others. Reach out for all your questions to info@airsset.com.