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Decreased productivity and increased health incidents? Poor indoor air quality is to blame

We’ve all had the feeling -we’re sitting in a full meeting room, doors closed, no windows; at first you don’t quite notice the feeling of sluggishness, the drifting focus, the rising tiredness. As the meeting proceeds the discussion feels as if it’s becoming steadily less relevant and constructive and the air starts to feel thick and damp. By the time the end of the meeting arrives, you’re left wondering what was even discussed in the last fifteen minutes and whether or not you’d fallen asleep for any of it.

This is a common occurrence across indoor spaces and is directly related to decreasing air quality in rooms over time. Each year roughly 100€ billion is lost in the EU alone due to decreased productivity and increased health incidents from poor air quality. These issues range from inhibited focus due to the CO2 build-up in offices to the immune-compromising effects of fine dust particulates (like those that smog up our cities) to the increased cancer risks from elevated formaldehyde and benzene levels in newly furnished units. There is a range of possible pollutant sources, driving these issues, and the WHO has attempted to set thresholds for a number of them. Unfortunately, few buildings check to verify their compliance with these standards and those that do often fall short [1]. As such, the topic warrants increased attention from building owners.

The damages from the different pollutants is as varied as the types of toxic air compounds. As its affects are the easiest to measure and understand, technical analysis have until now been heavily focused on CO2; specifically, the role it plays on our ability to focus. As CO2 levels in a room increase, the relative amount of available oxygen taken up by the body per breath is decreased, and the brain’s metabolism is steadily slowed as it loses access to oxygen. Many analyses have found a range of impacts, starting with CO2 levels easily achieved from typical office spaces containing one employee per 10 m2 of space. These effects tend to increase dramatically and can inhibit factors like decision-making and overall strategizing. [2] By keeping levels close to outdoor levels, studies have demonstrated office workers to work up to 60% faster and with 12% greater accuracy than those in improperly ventilated spaces. [3] This issue will likely worsen in coming years, as the baseline CO2 level continues to increase, requiring more measures to maintain the same standard of oxygen quality in the rooms.

These concerns are, unfortunately, generally not as easily resolved as ventilating a room, as the shape, furnishings, and use of the room, as well as the specific compounds responsible for the toxicity, may form pockets within the room and provide unintended high levels of exposure to employees. [5]

Particulate matter, for example, which covers a wide category of compounds and particulate sizes, has been attributed to causing inflammation, respiratory and cardiovascular issues, and even linked to several cancers.[4] These particulates in their various forms are not always removed with standard air filtration methods and tend to move within air columns in atypical fashions. 

Poor indoor air quality is likely not only worsening our health, but, in a business sense, it is measurably driving down our productivity and the quality of our work. EVORA’s Health and Wellbeing team can provide strategies and suggestions to make sure the residents of your buildings remain healthier and are operating 12% more efficaciously than those in traditionally ventilated buildings.  


[1] https://www.eea.europa.eu/signals/signals-2020/articles/improving-air-quality-improves-people2019s

[2] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-carbon-dioxide-in-a-crowded-room-can-make-you-dumber-180948052/

[3] https://airrated.co/rising-co2-levels-ruining-the-planet-and-our-productivity/

[4] https://www.eea.europa.eu/signals/signals-2020/articles/improving-air-quality-improves-people2019s

[5] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260530137_CFD_study_of_the_effects_of_furniture_layout_on_indoor_air_quality_under_typical_office_ventilation_scheme

Closing up for Christmas? Merry energy saving!

Christmas is just around the corner and hopefully none of us will be spending it in the office, especially given it’s on a Saturday this year!

So once the festive greetings are exchanged and the last ‘out of office’ has gone on we’ve got some hints and tips to save energy in your buildings over the holidays.

  • Reset controls – Who knows what temperature wars have gone on with the cold coming in and people being off at different times, use the holiday season as an opportunity to review tenant control panels with minimum disruption. Think of it as new year, new you, new set points.
  • Switch off the lights – Yes, including the Christmas ones. The streets are lit up all nice and shiny, your office doesn’t need to be.
  • Reduce fresh air delivery – Unless you have demand-driven systems chances are that you’ll be bringing in as much fresh air as possible into the building because of COVID-19. We’re not suggesting you take any risks in that regard (nobody wants the virus as a Christmas present) but if occupancy is very low try reducing the fresh air delivery rate or the run hours if the building is going to be unoccupied for long periods.
  • Shut down central plant – As a minimum central plant need not run on the national holidays and your buildings may be shut for even longer periods so get plant switched off. The majority of BMS front-end systems will allow you to set exceptions for specific days so that everything returns to the normal setup after all the festivities are over.
  • Turn off / turn down radiators – The weather outside may be frightful but that doesn’t mean you need the radiators on in an empty building. Any manually-controlled radiators around the building will continue to heat unless you turn down the thermostats or switch off the LTHW system centrally.
  • Check frost protection settings – Who knows, we may get a white Christmas still, so make sure frost protection settings are adequate. EVORA recommends these be set to 10°C.

Merry Christmas from all of us at EVORA!

Nature: the next challenge for sustainable finance?

If there is one thing we’ve learnt from spending more time inside our homes over the last year, courtesy of these ‘unprecedented circumstances’, it is the importance of spending time outside.

The natural environment is a key part of our built environment. Access to green space has never been so desirable. And in our cities, where space is a premium and populations are growing, there are innovative ways to maximise our access to nature.

Encouraged by sustainable building certifications and a growing trend for biophilic design (the concept of increasing occupant connectivity to the natural environment), many buildings now incorporate additional greenery, with everything from your standard pot plant, to indoor trees and living walls and roofs.

The health and wellbeing benefits of increasing access to nature are well documented.

Improved air quality, increased productivity, and decreased stress are just a few of the most widely accepted. So it’s not surprising that research has also shown that increasing nature increases property values. We all know the rooms with the view attract a premium, and according to a report commissioned by the Natural Resources Defence Council, improved landscaping can add around 22% to the rental rates for retail buildings. And that’s before we account for the climate resilience impacts of incorporating green infrastructure – sustainable urban drainage systems help manage surface water flooding, living roofs can mitigate overheating and trees prevent soil erosion.

But we are realising the importance of nature at a critical time. Biodiversity is decreasing at an alarming rate. Between the combined pressures of climate change and humancentric land use, space for nature is dwindling and with it the enormous diversity of species on our planet. Indeed, scientists estimate that vertebrates have declined by an average of 70% in the last half-century.

Policy changes are moving in on the issue. The new London Plan brings with it the Urban Greening Factor, a measurement that will ensure London gets greener as it grows. On a larger scale, in the UK, the (much delayed and eagerly anticipated) Environment Bill will enshrine Net Biodiversity Gain into law, meaning that all new development must demonstrate an increase in nature compared to what was on site before.

In the investment space, we are seeing major changes too. Earlier this year France introduced a new disclosure regulation, Article 29, requiring French financial institutions to disclose biodiversity as well as climate-related risks. France’s Article 29 is a sign of what is to come in sustainable finance. Also established this year is the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure. TNFD is a market-led initiative focused on standardising nature-related financial disclosures and mitigating biodiversity impacts. With TCFD we have seen a shift in climate-related financial disclosures, and TNFD is set to do the same for nature.

All this points to one thing: the next frontier in sustainable finance is nature.

If you would like to find out more, please get in touch with one of our ESG experts by contacting contactus@evoraglobal.com

Restricting urban biomass: A chance to improve city air quality

Reducing the volume of emissions for real estate activities and subsequently improving air quality is something EVORA Global supports clients in committing to. Often, this involves changing the way factors such as energy and heat consumption are managed. Switching from traditional fossil fuel to cleaner means is a great way to start, however, alternative means of heating still need to be carefully considered in terms of the overall impacts tied to them. 

Biomass systems are an example of an alternative heating source requiring such attention, due to implications for air quality from what they emit. In this blog we explore the potential issues with biomass and what the alternatives are for asset owners looking to move towards renewable heat. 


UK non-domestic renewable heat

The topic of renewable heat has been rising up the agenda as a key part of UK decarbonisation and net zero targets. According to BEIS it is estimated that a third of energy consumption in the UK is from heating, with  a substantial portion of this stemming from fossil fuel sources. 

Traditionally heating has been sourced predominantly from gas (~78%) in the non-domestic space, with only a small proportion from electricity (~8%) and even less from alternative sources (~6%) according to an Imperial College London and Vivid Economics analysis in 2018. As a result, to advance decarbonisation efforts, subsidy schemes such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) have been introduced. 

The Non-domestic RHI serves organisations that use alternative heating, incentivising the switch by paying generators for generated heat. In this way, renewable heating systems can be paid for in the long term, due to bill savings and cash flow from set tariffs lasting 20 years. Biomass, organic matter used for fuel, has been the most popular alternative, leading the way in terms of the RHI’s contribution to energy system decarbonisation. In fact, as of the end of August 2019, biomass accounted for 16,776 accredited systems across GB, with a capacity of approximately 4.1GW. This represents around 85% of the total number and generating capacity under the non-domestic scheme as shown in Figure One.

Figure 1 – Proportion of alternative heating installations by number and installed capacity (MW) across GB under the non-domestic RHI. 
Source: BEIS – RHI Monthly Official Statistics Table August 2019

Biomass is a carbon neutral fuel as carbon emitted is offset by that absorbed during the growth of the fuel (assuming that a sustainable supply chain is created with a continuous carbon sink and replenishment strategy in place). When compared to other fuelled boilers in Figure 2, data from the UK Houses of Parliament in 2016 suggests that the direct emitted carbon from biomass is lower than other conventional systems. This builds a strong case for using it in heat intensive settings.

Figure 2 – Average emitted carbon from conventional boilers of different fuel types
Source: UK Houses of Parliament 2016

Issues with air pollution

However, biomass has come under scrutiny due to other emissions which result from the combustion of the wood pellet fuel. Fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), ammonia (NH3), nitrogen oxides (NOX), sulphur dioxides (SO2) and other harmful substances have been found in high volumes on average from biomass systems. 

PM 2.5 is an air pollutant that is a major concern for people’s health and wellbeing due to reducing the quality of the air we breathe, causing respiratory difficulties and affecting lung function in the long term. This is primarily from the particulates themselves, however, PM 2.5 can act as a sink for other toxic substances which are produced from transport and industry which can also be drawn into the lungs. Therefore, it is of interest that the volume of PM 2.5 emissions is reduced in urban areas, due to the general proximity of the public to sources of emissions, as well as the relative density of pollution in these regions and other toxins that can be mixed in.

Data from EMEP/EEA air pollutant emission inventory guidebook 2016 illustrates the issue that biomass presents in Figure 3 below, with PM 2.5 emissions being the second highest of the comparative boiler fuels. When these systems are concentrated in an urban area, the issue is only exacerbated.

Figure 3 – Average PM 2.5 emissions from standard boilers of different fuel sources (*electricity does not factor source combustion)
Source: EMEP/EEA air pollutant emission inventory guidebook 2016

A BEIS consultation – restricting urban biomass

Due to issues arising from the continued rise in popularity around biomass and potential to impact air quality, Government outlined in an October 2018 consultation – Renewable Heat Incentive: Biomass Combustion in Urban Areas – the potential to restrict biomass facilities in urban areas. In effect, this will remove the financial incentive for all new biomass installations including combined heat and power (CHP). It has been a year since this consultation was introduced and Government has yet to provide a public response, however it is be speculated that the commitment to restrict urban biomass will follow through, as the Clean Air Strategy 2019 published in January 2019 reiterated the intention to do so.

These restrictions are aimed at steering potential installers of RHI systems away from biomass toward different measures, namely, those with a zero PM 2.5 emission status, as well as energy efficiency measures. As a result, BEIS suggest that the potential net present value of banning urban biomass from January 2019 could be as much as £89mn, with £23mn sourced from air quality impact savings alone due to lower social resource costs. Furthermore, carbon saving of 0.6MtCO2e per annum could also be achieved if other RHI technologies are deployed instead such as heat pumps and solar thermal.


Alternatives for asset owners to consider

Despite heating systems being a staple in all buildings, the reliance on them is still up for debate. It can be considered that in a temperate region like the UK, the need for external heating systems providing heat to buildings is unnecessary, especially in new builds where most new installations are likely to be targeted. In the case of biomass systems, they may not even need to be considered if energy efficient measures can be designed into a construction in the first instance. Furthermore, when looking at older structures energy efficiency and heat dependence can be improved through retrofitting. 

New build thermal efficiencies are expected to increase in the next decade or so, with the tightening of Part L Building Regulations and promotion of better standards such as Passivhaus including improved insulation, reduced air flow and intelligent design to take advantage of solar thermal energy. This could, in the longer term, negate the need for external heating completely, biomass or otherwise as room temperatures are maintained through the day. Therefore, alternative heating arrangements can be put in place, these being smaller and possibly modular RHI accredited systems which can adapt to a growing company throughout the year. This would promote flexibility, energy savings and reduced emissions overall.

…alternative heating arrangements can be put in place, these being smaller and possibly modular RHI accredited systems which can adapt to a growing company throughout the year. This would promote flexibility, energy savings and reduced emissions overall.

However, for existing buildings, which make up most of the real estate stock, external heating will still be required regardless of energy efficiency measures put in place. But real estate within urban regions can still tap into the benefits of renewable heat while avoiding localised air pollution by investing in other generator types. Air source, ground source and water source heat pumps, solar thermal arrays and geothermal installations are RHI accredited systems that do not combust material and therefore have zero PM 2.5 or carbon emissions as a result. 

Utilising these technologies therefore help investors to contribute to sustainability standards, improve health and wellbeing overall and act as an alternative to sometimes expensive energy efficiency retrofitting as well as receiving subsidy for their contribution. 


In summary, though biomass is a good alternative to carbon emitting fossil fuel boilers, in the urban environment emissions of PM 2.5 are problematic and undesired. As a result of the BEIS consultation, newly installed urban biomass is likely to lose subsidy. However, there are alternatives in place which can keep buildings warm but will help to improve air quality, through either complete replacement of biomass systems, or by using intelligent design to negate the need for large external heating in the first place. 

For more information surrounding urban RHI systems or energy efficiency measures, please get in contact with the team. 

Indoor Air Quality: Every Breath We Take

At EVORA, health and wellbeing consulting is a key component of our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Strategy and Risk Management service line.

We are increasingly advising our clients on indoor air quality and the emerging third-party standard in this area: RESET Air certification.

First – Why should we care about indoor air quality?

The short answer is because indoor air quality has a direct impact on health and wellbeing.

For example, PM-2.5 is one pollutant of concern in indoor environments. PM-2.5 is particulate matter or solid particles that are smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter – far smaller than the width of a human hair. These particles are so small that our bodies have no natural defences against them. As a result, PM-2.5 can penetrate deep within our lungs – even enter our bloodstream! – and can cause emphysema or lung cancer.

Even seemingly benign compounds from a human health perspective, like carbon dioxide (CO2), can negatively impact our mental performance. CO2 is a gas produced when we respirate and is in every breath we exhale. Yet, recent research shows that when CO2 accumulates in a space, such as when there is inadequate ventilation in an airtight indoor environment, it can significantly impact our cognitive functioning and make it difficult to concentrate.

High indoor air quality thus provides many benefits to worker health and wellbeing; it reduces sickness, decreases absenteeism, and helps raise productivity.

As employees are typically quoted as one of the most expensive costs of running a business, it follows that there is a strong return-on-investment in preserving high indoor air quality.

Second – How can EVORA help?

One way we assist our clients in this space at the asset-level is supporting the application of third-party health and wellbeing accreditation/certification schemes. Certification schemes offer a robust framework for discourse surrounding health and wellbeing in the built environment.

RESET Air (where RESET is short for Regenerative Ecological Social & Economic Targets) is one such certification scheme borne out of Shanghai, China in 2009. RESET Air certification has a focus on protecting human health by specifically targeting indoor air quality.

RESET Air is a sensor-based and performance-driven indoor air quality certification. RESET Air provides a standard for continuous monitoring of pollutants of concern, which must be below acceptable limits during hours of occupancy for a period of three months prior to certification. This level of performance must then be maintained forever more; projects are recertified annually to ensure indoor air quality continues to be within acceptable thresholds. Indoor air quality performance data must also be made publicly available to occupants of the building, continuously and in real time.

The pollutants of concerns include PM-2.5, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), CO2 and carbon monoxide (CO).

There are two different RESET Air project types:

  • RESET Air for Commercial Interiors: The intent is to monitor the quality of air for occupants at the breathing level.
  • RESET Air for Core & Shell: The intent is to monitor the quality of air being delivered by the building’s HVAC system post-filtration.

For certification with either project type, the emphasis is on obtaining three months of data by deploying accredited monitors and providing the data in an acceptable format.

RESET Air is seeing considerable attention internationally and relatively rapid adoption, particularly in certain geographies. Additionally, RESET Air has recently been coordinating and harmonizing with other health and wellbeing certification programs, including WELL and Fitwel. This harmonization helps streamline project documentation for those projects looking to achieve multiple health and wellbeing certifications.

Exploring the nuances of certification schemes, including RESET Air, can get complicated and quickly!

EVORA has multiple RESET Air Accredited Professionals ready to help you understand the standard and – if appropriate – apply it to your project. Get in touch to find out how we can help your project achieve improved – and easier to communicate – health and wellbeing outcomes!

Health and Wellbeing in Student Accommodation Investments

The demand for student accommodation continues to grow in the UK. In 2017/18, there were 602,000 purpose-built bed spaces available to students; 87% of these were delivered by the private sector[1].

Critically for investors, the value of transactions is greater than ever, in spite of fears that the market had peaked and concerns over the impact of Brexit. Despite this market buoyancy, clearly risks must be appropriately managed and investment decisions taken carefully. For us and many others, researching, analysing and integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues is a critical element of such risk management. Investments involving student accommodation intersect with a broad range of ESG issues that may of themselves, or in combination, have potential to materially impact on overall profitability. One ESG focus is that of health and wellbeing, an area of growing importance to both active investors and student occupiers.

For us and many others, researching, analysing and integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues is a critical element of such risk management.


When planning for student accommodation, consideration should be given to the connections between the built environment, both physically and mentally. For example, in terms of nutrition, fitness, mood, sleep patterns and performance. Aspects include:

  1. Lighting: Ensuring availability of sufficient natural light and windows. Mood is significantly affected by access to natural light, and by the type of artificial light we are exposed to. Lighting has a big effect on alertness and concentration and traditional lighting can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm (associated with chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, and depression).
  2. Bed quality and comfort: Sleep and mental health have a bidirectional relationship; investing in mattresses that improve sleep quality can contribute to improved wellbeing.
  3. Curtains: Related to the above, ensuring that light pollution does not prevent sleep is important.
  4. Sound-proofing: Noise has been found to influence occupants’ mental health. Each asset must at least meet relevant regulatory standards (and preferabley surpass) to minimise the impact of noise.
  5. Temperature: Respondents to NUS’ Homes Fit for Study survey in 2014 described being mentally affected by the temperature in their accommodation. Whilst good provision of heating is important, issues such as pre-set thermostats could result in heat stress which itself has a negative impact on mental health. Heating can also affect occupants’ physical activity which in turn can impact on mental health. Reducing drafts can also help.
  6. Air quality and ventilation: Being damp free and simple improvements like plants to help with better air ventilation should be considered.
  7. Green space: Views and access to nature have been connected to better wellbeing.
  8. Safety and security: Implement 24/7 management strategies and promotion of safety precautions to students (refreshed for each new student intake). Consider early (i.e. during design).
  9. Physical Exercise: Consideration to provision of gym facilities, indoors or outdoors. Establishing relationships with local sports facilities to enable subsidised membership.
  10. Nutrition: High quality kitchen facilities with appropriate cleaning strategy in place. Healthy food options, preferably with pricing and/or other choice incentives. Students should also be able to easily access good quality drinking water.
  11. Accessibility: All residences should aim to be within feasible walking distance of suitable public transport or educational establishment. Adequate and well-maintained cycle storage facilities (secure, well-lit with overhead cover) should also be provided as standard.

Additionally, property managers need to cooperate with the university’s welfare services to maximise the support that can be provided for students to reach their optimum mental wellbeing. Mental health training should be provided for all student-facing staff, so they are equipped to follow the right protocols, respond adequately to distress, understand the boundaries of confidentiality, and consider the positive things they can do to create a supportive culture, including signposting students to further support and community care.

Student accommodation not only provides shelter, but should also offer a rich environment of inclusiveness, generosity of spirit, respect and excellence in which students are enabled to become the best people they can be.

Integrating with existing local communities and/or supporting creation of new communities within and around student accommodation is crucial, particularly as it helps first year students transition into their new lifestyles. Student accommodation not only provides shelter, but should also offer a rich environment of inclusiveness, generosity of spirit, respect and excellence in which students are enabled to become the best people they can be. Students deserve an excellent residential experience where they feel a sense of belonging and engagement to facilitate true academic success. Property managers should support social measures and pastoral care. Design and fit-out of accommodation can enhance community spirit, by providing comfort and high quality social space. An allocation system should be employed to allow new students to choose their room in the accommodation and provide a matching service to live with a preferential mix of others, that relates to gender, nationality and stage of study.

Attention to considerations such as these can reduce project risks, build social support and generate incremental value.

EVORA can provide comprehensive end-to-end sustainability consultancy support for investors in and operators of student accommodation, including:

  • Development of ESG policies and strategies;
  • Certification (e.g. WELL Standard and Fitwel); and,
  • Reporting (e.g. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports, Responsible Property Investment Statements and / or disclosure of sustainability performance within Annual Reports).

Contact us to speak to a member of the team.


[1]Cushman & Wakefield, UK Student Accommodation Report, 2018

IoT: How can it help address urban sustainability challenges?

A common trend occurring in countries across the world is the movement of people into cities. The knock-on effect of city growth is that their energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions rise exponentially in order to meet the needs of the inhabitants.

Current estimates state that cities consume over two thirds of the world’s energy and are responsible for similar levels of global greenhouse gases[1]. As cities are expected to continue growing in the future, it is important that urban sustainability issues and challenges are addressed in order to restrict the impact of climate change.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical devices which can connect and exchange data. Often, IoT forms the basis of new innovative approaches, which are presented as the solution to many urban sustainability challenges. According to the world economic forum[2], which analysed 640 IoT deployments, it found that 84% of these can in some way help address the UN Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting the global potential of IoT. For the purpose of this blog I have focused upon two key areas of interest to me, air quality and commercial buildings. In both of these areas the IoT has the potential to drive sustainability progress forward.


Air Quality

Air quality has received considerable attention in the media over the past year. In London, where we are based, the major source of pollution derives from transportation. It is important for environmental and health reasons that within cities we are able to monitor air quality effectively. However, a key challenge has always been the coverage.

Often air quality is measured by monitoring stations at set locations providing limited spatial representativeness, which is problematic in densely populated areas where significant variations can occur due to a wide range of emission sources. Advances in low power wide area (LPWA) networks (long range wireless communication) has enabled small and low-cost sensors to be developed, which can be attached to street furniture (think sign posts and street lights) within cities. Readings can be received in real time from these sensors providing air quality data with greater depth and scope than before. Using this information in models can support decision making processes and also help raise general awareness of the issue.

A practical example using IoT to improve air quality monitoring is the Air Map Korea Project[3], which involves sensors (with IoT capability) being placed on over 4.5 million telephone poles, 60,000 public phone booths and 4000 offices. The desired result is for the data to help government-led efforts to reduce air pollution. Another example, slightly closer to home is a mobile air quality monitoring project in Glasgow[4], where sensors are placed in vehicles to provide readings throughout the city. I am expecting more and more schemes like these two to start occurring in cities around the world.


Commercial Buildings

Cities contain a wide variety of commercial buildings, such as offices, hotels and shopping centres, which account for a considerable part of the overall energy demand. If cities are going to continue to grow as expected, it is vital that these buildings are able to reduce their energy demand and associated carbon emissions. Savings can often be achieved through improving the operational functions. Commercial buildings commonly have a set level of intelligence built in, with internal networks providing a tool for communication between equipment, for example as part of the Building Energy Management System (BEMS).

Approaches utilising the IoT are now offering greater system connectivity, providing building managers with more accurate data and better methods to regulate and control internal conditions, enabling building environments to be improved and efficiency savings achieved. An example of this connectivity would be a building where heating and cooling is adjusted automatically based on the occupancy and weather conditions or even lighting systems that adjust to our natural circadian rhythm.

At EVORA, we have been providing monitoring and targeting consultancy across a range of assets to help reduce consumption within buildings. Our SIERA software can be directly linked to a utility AMR stream providing us with consumption readings every 30 mins. Through reviewing the data monthly, we are able to optimise plant equipment timings and highlight unusual fluctuations, leading to financial and carbon savings (click here to see a case study where we delivered energy savings of 30%).

Having greater connectivity allows for services like this to exist, which improve the internal environment and assist in the way buildings are managed and operated, offering a viable solution for lowering energy demand from commercial buildings.

If you are interested in discussing this further or want to know how EVORA could help your organisation with sustainability initiatives,then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of the team.


[1]C40 Cities – https://www.c40.org/why_cities
[2]World Economic Forum – http://widgets.weforum.org/iot4d/
[3]Business Korea – http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=19374
[4]ScotlandIS – https://www.scotlandis.com/news/2017/september/with-iot-air-quality-in-glasgow-gets-smart/

Monitoring and visualising indoor air quality with Foobot

With the rise of the health and wellbeing agenda, monitoring and visualising the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) of the workplace is emerging as a key objective for many.

Some smart buildings already have expensive state of the art IEQ monitoring in place. But what if you don’t find yourself in this situation and need to set up a system from scratch? You could go out and procure said ‘state of the art’ system at significant expense. However, if you are budget-constrained, you may find yourself looking toward the more cost efficient, ‘consumer-grade’ end of the IEQ monitoring spectrum…


Measuring IAQ

Now, we know there are considerable limitations with certain consumer-grade IEQ monitoring devices – including their level of calibration and, ultimately, accuracy. However, for this blog we would like to set this issue aside and focus on the practicalities of installing and monitoring indoor air quality through a popular consumer-grade monitoring device: Foobot.

With an interest in air quality, one of our consultants found Foobot. Foobot is a low-cost air quality monitoring tool which can interface with internet-based apps to log air quality and also help you to do something about it.

Setup

Setting up Foobot is easy. Once you’ve unboxed and plugged the monitor in, you need to download the Foobot app to an Android or iPhone smart phone.  After registering on the app, it will then allow you to connect to the monitor. Once connected, you can then monitor Foobot readings wherever you are.  For easy comprehension, Foobot gives you a headline air quality score, which is made up of several readings including carbon dioxide, particulates, and humidity.

The main Foobot phone screen, showing an air quality score (50+ is poor)


Data and API

As well as the app, Foobot supplies an API, which can be used to extract data from your monitor for your own use. To get the data you basically fire various URLs to the API, which include an API key supplied by Foobot, that will return data. This is quite advanced stuff for those who want to build their own mini applications. An easier way to do this would be to use something called IFTTT.

Connect Foobot up to other apps using IFTTT

A useful website www.ifttt.com (If this then that) has lots of applets; readymade code snippets that are based on a trigger (this) and an action (that). Handily there’s a few setup already for Foobot. For our Foobot (named Evorabot) we have used two – one to log readings to a google spreadsheet and the other to message a reading when you physically tap the monitor twice.

The Foobot applets listed on the IFTTT website.

To use IFTTT, first you need to register as a new user on the site. This can be done using a Facebook or Google login or a login specifically for IFTTT. Once registered you can then set up applets.

To setup an applet is simple.

  1. You choose the applet you want to use (Foobot/Twitter/Instagram).
  2. You then click on the trigger part of the applet (The ‘this’).
  3. This will prompt you to connect a Foobot device.
  4. To connect your Foobot to the IFTTT site, you just need to enter the login you created when you registered your Foobot using the mobile app.
  5. Once it is registered you can use any of the Foobot triggers for the ‘this’ part of the applet.
  6. For the ‘that’ part, we first used a connection to a Google drive account to log each reading made by our Foobot to a google sheet. This graph is a google sheets graph, plotting CO2 output in the Evora office.

An example Co2 graph of the Evora office

Using Slack

We now use an IFTTT applet which logs a reading to one of our Slack channels (the app we use for internal communications with the team). The Foobot reading is triggered by someone tapping/knocking on the device which then posts a message in the appropriate conversation.

The knock knock Foobot app in action


Hacks to the future

The great thing about Foobot is that its already collaborating with other technologies to create complete solutions. This includes linking to Nest to enable more ventilation if air quality gets too bad. These hacks enable both offices and homes to create Smart ventilation, keeping poor air quality in check.

We may well explore this solution for our office. For now, when the air quality gets bad, we open some windows!

Health impacts of climate change on indoor environments

A report recently published in the journal Environment International highlights health risks associated with climate-induced change to indoor environments. The report explored four key consequences on indoor environments: overheating, reduced ventilation, indoor air quality (which may lead to the growth of pathogens) and biological contamination such as pest infestations or airborne infectious diseases. Climate change is expected to amplify existing health risks already associated with these categories. This is not very surprising and will only stretch the public health purse further if climate change is not tackled.

More information via Science Direct and the European Commission.