Airthings Air Summit 2021 brought together key speakers from around the world to explore the future of our buildings and how we can make them healthier, smarter, and more sustainable.
Hosted in Norway, the home of fresh air, world champion skier and Airthings chairman Aksel Lund Svindal kicked off the event, followed by our honoured guests from RESET, Infogrid, Evotech, Frydenbø and Airly to name but a few.
4 olympic medals, 11 world cup titles, 9 world champion medals, 36 world cup wins and the common denominator? During his fantastic skiing career, Aksel spent a lot of time in the great outdoors breathing in the healthy Norwegian air. In Oslo, where Airthings is HQ, coincidentally the European green capital 2019, he and Øyvind Birkenes CEO of Airthings kicked off the Air Summit
He explained that air quality is something we often take for granted. If there is a ventilation system in our homes or buildings, the unconscious assumption is that the air must therefore be healthy. But this is not always the case. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, and yet we don’t all know about it1. He has high hopes for the exciting tech scene in Norway to help solve this issue.
“I think Airthings plus Oslo is a winning combination. But importantly, it also helps that you are doing something meaningful. That's one of the things that impresses me the most.
- Aksel Lund Svindal, Air Summit 2021
Proptech Norway founder, Henrik Botten Taubøll, kicked off the event with a keynote about the future of the Proptech industry, innovation and the effects of Covid. During the pandemic, home offices became the new norm and offices stood empty. Yet, thanks to the Airthings air quality data, it is clear that most buildings were still running as usual. The energy expenditure was the same as if the buildings were occupied. It just goes to show how far we have to go.
On the positive side, back in the office, he noted a clear shift in the indoctrination of tech at the workplace. Gone are the days of asking for the IT department to set up a meeting room for a presentation. Not when everyone is so used to having online meetings on their phones and laptops at home. Proptech, therefore, has a bright future.
“As the global pandemic started in March 2020, buildings in Norway shut down and home-office became the new norm. Yet, the energy spent in these buildings was the same, even without people using them.” - Proptech Norway's founder, Henrik Botten Taubøl, Air Summit 2021
This is a problem that sensor technology can help with. Stanton Wong, President of RESET, joined remotely from Shanghai to advocate for continuous monitoring of indoor air quality in buildings—a requirement for getting a building RESET-certified.
“Continuous monitoring is the difference between monitoring and just seeing a quick glance at the health of your building.” RESET is a set of standards and assessment tools and services that help property owners develop actionable, long term strategies towards health and sustainability for the built environment. They check each business individually before products can be used towards acquiring RESET standards.
“Airthings was one of the easiest tests I had to do... I looked at the data and my report was really easy to write!”
- Stanton Wong, President of RESET, Air Summit 2021
With a legacy of disrepair and temporary buildings used beyond their lifespan, John Lumb, Director of Evotech pointed out the need for IAQ prioritization particularly in schools.
The “school estate has a GIFA of 78.7 million m2” in the UK of which was surveyed, finding the total costs of repairs to be an enormous “£11.4 billion“3. And improved air quality needs to be a part of this.
“Every child has the right to breathe clean air, whether at home, at school or at play”
- John Lumb, Evotech, Air Summit 2021
Though we have known for a long time that both ambient indoor and outdoor air pollution responsible for about 7 million deaths globally per year, it can be overlooked when it matters most4. Maria Davis, demonstrated the importance of air quality monitoring post-pandemic.
“During the pandemic we have been educated from the past two years on TV, radio, front page news, on how air can affect us”
- Maria Davis, Air Summit 2021
Though we’ve always known about the problems the air we breathe can cause us, now, people are beginning to really pay attention. And not only is it about time, it's a huge business opportunity.
IoT can help to improve business efficiency, reduce costs, drive sustainability, optimize maintenance, and even improve health and wellbeing, so how do we utilize it? Ross Sheil, Vice President of Revenue at Infogrid discussed how AI and IoT can be leveraged to ensure healthy buildings and pointed at shifting consumer expectations. According to a survey by Infogrid, 1 in 2 employees are uncomfortable returning to the workplace and 61% would feel better if they had data on the healthiness of the building.
Later, the future of sensor tech was discussed by Joakim Lindh, Airthings for Business as he proposed 10 IoT Trends for 2022. He noted that despite claims of improved battery life for every launch, Apple’s iphones still require overnight charging. Can we see a future where long term battery life really means just that? One day will we see batteries which outlive new products? We hope so.
In a breakout session, Jakub Madej, EMEA International Sales Manager at Airly explained that it is necessary to install many air quality sensors despite having official monitoring stations. Through his presentation he demonstrated the localized nature of air quality, necessitating a more the merrier approach to monitoring. On top of this, Mazen Jamal, Sales Manager, Airthings for Business debated the question Green buildings vs healthy buildings – can we have both? And finally, Martin McGloin, Head of Product, Airthings for Business and Tommy Hagenes, Founder, Proptech Bergen wrapped up the Air Summit 2021 with a live recording of Praktisk PropTech Podcast.
As a response to the current situation, Airthings announced during the event a new product addition to its portfolio: Space CO₂ (formerly View CO₂ for Business).
With up to ten years of battery life, the new wireless sensor helps schools, offices and commercial buildings take charge of their air quality by warning them when CO₂ levels become unhealthy. It is our effort to make CO2 even more accessible. The launch comes at a time when regulations to measure CO₂ in schools are becoming more common. Countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands have already introduced regulations to monitor air quality in schools. The UK and several states in the US, including California, are also looking at implementing similar measures.
All in all, it was great to be back in business with in-person air quality events. The event highlighted how the topic of indoor air quality has become mainstream since the pandemic started and the opportunity for buildings to both tackle sustainability and occupant health through technology.
A big thank you to all who attended, and to those who couldn't, please enjoy the wrap-up video below: