“We can accomplish both sustainability and IAQ, but we need to think holistically. And we need to think in terms of layered strategies and frameworks."
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Episode 117 is a conversation with Christian Weeks, CEO of enVerid Systems.
Christian and his team just published a new whitepaper on Sustainable Indoor Air Quality and it’s really great. I’m serious guys—I learned a lot from it and love how much knowledge from the pandemic is condensed into it and I think the way they took a stand and made actual recommendations amid all the IAQ confusion is really helpful to the industry. So we unpacked the white paper and the main 4-step framework at the heart of it.
Without further ado, please enjoy the Nexus podcast with Christian Weeks.
A message from our partner, enVerid Systems:
Improving indoor air quality (IAQ) with optimized ventilation and air cleaning need not conflict with building decarbonization and climate resilience goals.
Read enVerid's new white paper, How to Achieve Sustainable Indoor Air Quality, to learn how a four-step Clean First approach can be used to design and operate low-energy, high-IAQ, climate resilient buildings of the future.
Mentions and Links
- How to Achieve Sustainable Indoor Air Quality
- EnerNoc / Enel X (2:34)
- enVerid Systems (3:29)
- 75F (24:39)
- Awair (24:43)
- Oxygen8 (24:49)
- Planled (24:49
- Safetraces (25:08)
- GIGA (25:27)
- Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (1:08:10)
- Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl (1:09:38)
You can find Christian on LinkedIn.
- enVerid's founding story (4:53)
- How enVerid's whitepaper came to be (18:53)
- Step 1: define goals (26:18)
- Defining acceptable IAQ and which metrics to monitor (32:01)
- CO2 (38:24)
- Step 2 - clean indoor air (43:35)
- Step 3 - optimize ventilation (49:44)
- Step 4 - monitor, validate, control (54:10)
- Determining ROI (1:02:37)
- Carveouts (1:07:32)
A message from our partner, Montgomery Technologies:
Cybersecurity, change management, remote access, and data integrity across 8-10 siloed systems per building presents a significant challenge for CRE operations. Just knowing where everything is, how it is connected, and where it is connected can be too much for thinly-staffed corporate IT departments, whose primary function is to oversee the corporate network.
🎥 Watch this quick explainer video to learn how a converged network fills this gap, solves for all the above, and is the first step to enabling a Smart Building.
👋 That's all for this week. See you next Thursday!
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Note: transcript was created using an imperfect machine learning tool and lightly edited by a human (so you can get the gist). Please forgive errors!
[00:00:33] James Dice: A cook note from our sponsor in various systems. We've discussed this a few times on the show in the past, improving indoor air quality with optimized ventilation and air cleaning. Doesn't need to conflict with building decarbonization and climate resiliency goals to show you why that's true and beret systems and a group of other IQ and energy experts put together a new white paper called how to achieve sustainable indoor air quality.
Check the link in the show notes to learn, to have a four [00:01:00] step clean first approach can be used to design and operate low energy, but high. Cue. Climate resilient buildings of the future.
[00:01:09] James Dice: This episode is a conversation with Christian Weeks CEO of systems. Christian and his team just published a new white paper on sustainable indoor air quality. And it's really great. And I'm serious about that. I learned a lot from it and I love how much knowledge from the pandemic is condensed into it. And I think the way they took a stand and made actual recommendations, amid all the IAQ confusion is going to be really helpful to the industry.
So we unpacked this white paper and the main four step framework at the heart of that. A quick community announcement to now that cohort five of our foundations courses launched. I wanted to make sure everyone knows that we also do private cohorts. So all of you do onboarding when you hire new people, think of this as industry onboarding for your team.
We host teams of 10 or more and teach the smart buildings industry to them in a private setting. All discussing your [00:02:00] context and how you exist in the industry. So hit us up to get on our schedule. And without further ado, please enjoy the nexus podcast with Christian Weeks.
Hey, Christian. Welcome to the show. Can you introduce yourself?
[00:02:11] Christian Weeks: Thanks, James. It's great to be here. Uh, my name is Christian Weeks and I'm the CEO of Barrett systems. All right.
[00:02:18] James Dice: I love to start with people's background. So that is the present day. Take me back.
[00:02:23] Christian Weeks: How'd you get here? Well, uh, I have been with inva for a little over three years now, so, um, but before and beared, I spent almost a decade with Enoch.
So I've been in the sort of clean energy building efficiency space for, uh, some time. Now I had a fun run at, which is for those who aren't familiar, uh, Boston based. Energy efficiency and leader and demand response in particular, uh, focused on commercial industrial customers. So I had various sales and marketing role sales and, and marketing sort of roles, and ultimately ran a [00:03:00] number of different business units within AOC.
I had a fun stint for listeners on down under in Australia and New Zealand for a couple years, um, and then came back and ran our global demand response business. And then we were acquired by an L uh, the NLX part of now, which is really doing a lot of innovation in the energy services, energy efficiency space.
And so, um, worked with them for a year, running the north America business, and ultimately got the itch to, to, uh, try something new and, and get a little earlier. So I found Baird, which is a, we'll talk more about inva, but in earlier stage business also based in the Boston area. So that was really my, sort of the bulk of my, my career in the energy space.
Prior to that, I did an MBA. And before that was in management consulting, Got it. Got it.
[00:03:42] James Dice: And, and Enoch, there's quite a few alumni Enoch alumni that are out in different places, right? Yeah. So there's like the hatch data folks. Yeah. And there's, that's, that's the most prominent example, but you probably have a bunch of others as
[00:03:56] Christian Weeks: well.
It's, you know, I, I had a business school [00:04:00] professor who, you know, when asked, would provide some career advice and he said as much as the company you choose and you know, the role, think about the tribe you're joining. And, uh, I had a lot of fun at interlock, but one of the fun things that continues to sort of give there is that when I go to like a clean energy networking event in Boston, like I did a week or two ago, it ends up being like a mini interlock reunion.
undoubtedly the two or three people that, uh, that were there with me. And, um, it's always a lot of fun. So yeah, it was a great group. There are, it's a vast network. I think it's one of the things that Tim and David who, who founded interlock are most proud of is not just what we did at Enoch, but the legacy that created and all the different ventures that have spun out from interlock and the people who grew up there and are off doing other interesting things in the energy space.
So it was a privilege to, to work there. And it's been a lot of fun to keep those connections going and bump into people here and. Yeah, that's cool.
[00:04:53] James Dice: So inva, can you tell me about the, the founding story of this company?
[00:04:58] Christian Weeks: Sure. So inva was [00:05:00] founded in 2010, uh, around a kitchen sink in Newton, Massachusetts, not far from where our, our headquarters is today founded though by two Israeli Americans who were technology backgrounds, they were both PhDs.
They were also entrepreneurs, both had run companies before earlier stage companies before. And they were looking at sort of thinking creatively about their next venture and they hadn't done anything in the building space, but had some ideas initially related to indoor air quality. In fact, the initial concept they were toying with was around increasing auction levels in buildings to try to improve productivity.
Um, but what they discovered in investigating that a little bit was that. The air in buildings, the volume of air in buildings is replaced like 20 times a day in a typical office building. So it's constantly being replaced. So pumping in more auction was just gonna kind of be not so productive cuz you were gonna displace replace it so many times.
But what that led to was the, the idea for and [00:06:00] varied or the insight that spawn and varied, which is that we are replacing all the air in buildings 20 times a day. And the question was, well, why do we do that? Well, it turns out we need a little bit of that to balance the building, offset the toilet exhaust and kitchen exhaust and all this, but most of that outside air, 80% of it or so.
Is actually to clean the indoor air to dilute indoor generated contaminants so we can live and work in healthy environments. So that was sort of what got them really thinking. Well, gosh, that's so energy intensive, there must be another way to maintain good indoor air quality. And it, you know, led to, well, why can't we clean the indoor air?
And then it led to, well, spaceships and submarines. Can't bring in all this outside air. So what are they doing? Well, yeah, they're cleaning the indoor air. So why can't we do that in commercial buildings? So that, that was really where, uh, that that's sort of the founding story and we'll get more into the, the solution that we developed and how we're going to market I'm sure.
But, but that was the inspiration was, it was outsiders to the industry. Poking around a little bit [00:07:00] first focused on health, then realizing this huge inefficiency and starting to think about how could we address that and got it. We're a number of years later, uh, you know, working away at that, solving that problem.
[00:07:12] James Dice: yeah. So you, here you come from inter and you solve this startup and you're like, I can help. I can help
[00:07:17] Christian Weeks: them. Yeah. Decision to join. Right. They were looking for some help, um, on, you know, with just the scale up commercialization activities. And that's really what I, you know, consider one of my strengths, something I really enjoyed through participating in at Enoch.
Um, and I was looking for, you know, growth earlier stage, but growth stage business in the clean energy sector in, in, in Boston, I I'm sort of from here and wanted to stay in the, in the area and, uh, was poking around. And when I learned about. And varied and this whole, and started digging into what, what Udy and Israel originally dug into, like, why do we ventilate buildings and how, how much does that contribute to the building energy [00:08:00] load?
And, you know, geez, it really isn't efficient. How do we do it? And then the technology, I mean, at a, at a conceptual level, it was so elegant cuz it was so simple. It's like let's just clean the air in the buildings rather than replace all this air 20 times a day. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Can we actually do that and then digging into technology and they had good traction, some really good initial customer stories, um, you know, case studies.
And so I said, well, this sounds like a really big opportunity and a really interesting technology that had a lot of IP around it and, and was, you know, well vetted. And um, it was like, yeah, I think I could help grow a business like this. And so, you know, that, that, that was intriguing and, and, uh, led to my coming on board in the beginning of 2019.
Totally. All right.
[00:08:43] James Dice: So what are the different products that you guys and, and how do you go to
[00:08:46] Christian Weeks: market with them? Yeah, so the underlying technology that, uh, in there is developed, um, where the technol, the products are based around is, is assort media, uh, technology. Uh, so it's probably [00:09:00] good maybe to start just talking more about what that means.
Yeah. Um, so AOR bin, sometimes they're called ad Orbin basically material, uh, that is designed to capture a particular gas or maybe a mix of gases from the air. Uh, what happens is as air passes over AOR bin or aort, uh, or through a Soin filter, which is what we do, essentially the gas molecules in the Airstream.
Chemically stick or bonds to the sortt media and are held by the media. So what we essentially do sort of the core innovation is a specific sortt media blend that we've developed to address a wide range of gases contaminants that Ashray has identified as contaminants of. In other words, contaminants that need to be controlled if you're going to displace outside air ventilation with clean indoor air.
So from the beginning, we were designing around those contaminants, uh, and essentially trying to take that concept from spaceships and [00:10:00] submarines, which was proven invalidated, but make it commercially viable and primarily economical for commercial buildings. So what we came up with was a unique sot media that is unique in the sense that addresses a wide range of gases and does it very efficiently and cost effectively.
Uh, and we came up with a way to deploy that in commercial buildings by essentially creating these sot filters. So think of your particle filter, like your Mer filter. But instead of just being sort of a, a, a, you know, having filter paper, we actually load these filters up with our Sobi media. Okay. So like a two by two is actually weighs like 15 pounds cuz it's full of the Sobi media.
Wow. Okay. Um, and what we do is we install those filters today. We're actually putting these systems with these filters directly in air handler units and rooftop units through a partnership we have with Dyke and applied. Um, but before we got going with Dyke and we, and still today, we're also deploying these filters [00:11:00] in buildings as part of a, a air cleaning module that we've developed.
So a separate mechanical system that, um, is modular inform each one addresses, cleans the air for about 20,000 square feet. And we essentially integrate these air cleaning modules with air handlers or rooftop units, uh, to clean the air in the space and allow that cleaned air to then be Recurly back into the, into the area and, and at the same time, reduce that outside air requirement.
So we're delivering. Clean air, which is the goal. Um, but doing it with a higher ratio of air cleaning to outside air ventilation, which is where we get the energy efficiency benefit. Got it. So the products are, are these, um, what we call HVAC load reduction, Orr modules, mm-hmm . These are these SIM, these, these systems that do exactly what the name indicates, where we're fundamentally reducing load on the building, cooling, heating, and cooling loads on the building by cleaning indoor air.
And these modular units serve again about 20,000 square feet. Each we have different form factors to go outdoor. So they're [00:12:00] more weatherized on a rooftop or inside a mechanical room, or even, you know, on a floor with a floor by floor configuration in a space directly. So different form factors for different types of applications.
But they're basically a, a system that's bringing about a thousand CFM through the unit, running that air flow over our sot through our sot filters. So we're capturing all those gases contaminants or listed, you know, Ashray contaminants of concern and reci that clean air back into the space. Got it. Got it.
[00:12:28] James Dice: Very cool. So once this gas is collected, talk about the maintenance side of this. Like, do you have to recharge thet with new chemicals? And then where does this gas go? That collects after that sticks to the, the
[00:12:45] Christian Weeks: material? So our sort bin filters, uh, capture a wide range of gases, uh, in compliance with the Ashray standards.
And we essentially hold those gases and just need to replace the filter every two years, two years. [00:13:00] So maintenance on the system is replace the filter once every two years. And you're good to go. Now we do have a premium, uh, product that not only addresses the gases that ashtray has identified, um, but also remove CO2 from indoor.
CO2 interesting. We'll probably get it into this a little bit later, uh, is not considered, considered in and of itself a contaminant of concern, um, in the, at the levels that are typically found in buildings, but it's often used by people as a proxy or indicator of occupancy or of, you know, overall ventilation effectiveness.
Yeah. So we'll get in a little bit later, but, um, but CO2 is not necessary, does not need to be controlled under the Ashray standard to do what we do. But many people have been paid attention to CO2 and do are concerned about CO2. And so we have a, a version of our unit that also removes CO2. But when we do that, because CO2 is in buildings at parts per million levels, much higher levels than gases, which are parts per billion, our filters do fill up saturate with [00:14:00] CO2 molecules.
And when that happens, we do have in this higher end product. Regeneration process where we can use heat to re excite those molecules that we're holding onto and release them. And we, what we do is we vent them outside the building and that way we essentially recharge the filter. So it can be used for two years, just like when you're not also removing CO2, but we just need to add that, that heating element, that regeneration process, so that they are useful for that long.
Interesting. Um, yeah, so it's essentially more efficient way to capture CO2 and, and, and vent it outside the building than traditional dilution ventilation. Um, but it's not a, a considered a containment concern at, at the levels we find in most building. So it's not part of the Ashray building code and is really an option, an additional feature.
People want it. Yeah. But isn't, isn't critical. Cool. What about, so
[00:14:51] James Dice: the typical ventilation design process, right? So you mentioned Azure, you mentioned dilution design. Traditional ventilation design [00:15:00] process is like this formula and this process that designers fall go through. I did it when I was early HVAC designer many years ago.
But how did, how is that process modified when you have this device in the building?
[00:15:15] Christian Weeks: How does that work? Yeah, so we work very closely with, um, mechanical engineers and we have a, our own team of mechanical engineers, um, to provide design assist services. Okay. Essentially, um, what we do that this whole concept of cleaning indoor air and displaces that outside air ventilation requirement with clean indoor air, um, is allowed for under something called the indoor AOI procedure, or I a Q P, which is a procedure that's described in Ashray standard 62.1, which is the ventilation standard for commercial buildings.
Mm-hmm um, there are in the, in Ashray standard 62.1, there are two procedures to determine mechanical ventilation. One of them. And the one that's most familiar to [00:16:00] people is called the ventilation rate procedure. Yeah. And when you apply the ventilation rate procedure, essentially use a table and determine minimum outside air based on occupancy, sort of how many people you're designed the space for, and also based on area.
And it has both components because you've got indoor generate contaminants that are associated with people. So that's the occupancy component and you have indoor generate contam with the space, the paints, the glues, and the furnitures and these sort of things. And so you got the area component. So those two together give you your ventilation rate.
If you're using the ventilation rate procedure, the indoor air quality procedure, which is sort of right next to that in the standard has, and has been in the standard since 19, the early 1980s, uh, is similar except it's performance based rather than being prescriptive and by performance based. I mean that it allows you to.
Determine how much outside air you need. Mm-hmm accounting for specific contaminants and design targets, which Ashray has now defined. And [00:17:00] also it account allows you to account for the cleaning efficiency of something like our system. In other words, it allows you to say in a, in a build, in a typical building, I've got these contaminants that are gonna be generated at this rate.
And I can remove them at this rate with this air cleaning system. So I can use the air cleaning system to address a good portion of that IQ requirement. And then I'm gonna supplement that with outside air ventilation to got it deal with building pressurization. If I need to top up what I'm doing with air cleaning, I can add that ventilation, you know, so it's basically it's performance space and allows you the nice thing about it.
Is this a more direct way to design the specific design targets? So, you know, the ventilation rate procedure is based on sort of rules of thumb about, you know, what you'll, what the resulting design will generate in terms of different measures of indoor air quality. With the IQ procedure, you can actually use specific targets.
You can use the Ashray minimums, or you can use the lead target. So the well building, you know, targets and design to that. Um, so you know, a little [00:18:00] more directly or explicitly what you're designed to, and then you get the benefit of incorporating the air cleaning to get that more efficient design, because you're not just relying on outside air ventilation, which should many climate zones is very energy intensive and expose design for.
So that's essentially, um, what we do with engineers is. If they're not familiar or maybe many times they're familiar with the IQ procedure, but haven't actually applied it. And aren't familiar with the, the tables where actually lays out the contaminants and the design limits, or aren't familiar with the calculations.
You need to do zone by zone to determine how many air cleaning units you need and how much outside air you still need on top of the air cleaning. So we basically walk them through that process and generate the reports and we can evaluate, you know, lead credit eligibility or well credit eligibility, or do energy models and develop compliance reports.
So we support the engineers who are, um, looking at applying that procedure and, and incorporating our technology into their design.
[00:18:53] James Dice: Okay. Very cool. We could probably go all day on like getting into how that's being applied and stuff. But I want [00:19:00] to talk about though, is this white paper is really, really excellent white paper that I had the chance of reviewing early on.
And then after I reviewed it, it got a lot, hell of a lot better. You guys did a really, really great job getting into the details, really taking like opinions on how people should, uh, move forward in this unsure world we're in, right? This, this confusing world we're in, in the world of IQ and then all the different charts and graphics and comparisons I thought were just awesome.
So I love, I wanna dive into this and, and specifically dive into this framework, recommendation framework, really this four step process that you've provided. But first I'd love to hear about kind of like how the white paper came to be. And for the everyone listening. We'll put the white paper link in the show notes.
So you can get right over to that whenever you're back at your computer. Um, but how, how
[00:19:55] Christian Weeks: did this come to be Christian? Yeah, so [00:20:00] we, you know, our approach to trying to make buildings more energy efficient is to introduce this concept of cleaning indoor air, rather than just relying on outside air ventilation mm-hmm and that's something that's a bit of a paradigm shift for.
Oh, totally. The industry. And for many of the engineers who've been using the ventilation rate procedure, you know, from the beginning. Um, and so we've been for some time working on sort of how do we introduce this and, and, and show the benefits of, of taking this approach. Um, and it, and it be, it, it really sort of got more, we were thinking more and more about this, particularly during the pandemic, because what happened with the pandemic is that the initial guidance or the.
You know, where we had made progress, maybe with the parts of the industry and sort of this approach. We, we immediately took a step back because the initial guidance was just pumping as much outside air as you can, to deal with airborne viruses mm-hmm . Um, and, [00:21:00] uh, and you know, that all makes sense, sort of the precautionary principle prevailed.
And that was what ashtray and others came out with, but it underscored this, this issue of outside air is really energy intensive. And, you know, to the extent there was pushback to the initial guidance that either had to do with in many cases, you know, I don't have the fan power. I don't have the capacity to bring all this there, or I can do it, but gosh, my electricity Bill's going through the roof at the same time.
This climate agenda. Gaining more and more attention. Um, building D card was becoming a bigger and bigger focus, um, and, and continues to even, you know, certainly post the pandemic. And at the same time we had wildfires in the west that were impacting air quality, not even west, but here on the east coast.
So we started asking questions about, well, what if we can't bring in the outside air? What do we do? So essentially this, this paper is which we, which is, is developing this concept. We've been working on for a while called sustainable indoor air quality. That is how do we deliver better indoor air quality.
That is also more energy efficient and [00:22:00] improves buildings, resilience to outdoor air pollution. Um, and, uh, we think this is really relevant today because of the things I was just mentioning. We've got this heightened focus on indoor air quality as a result of the pandemic. At the same time, we've got this climate agenda.
That's, you know, the drums are being louder and louder around building decarb and electrification, all these things. And this concerns about indoor air outdoor air quality. Outdoors, not always fresh air anymore is that's gaining more prompts as well, but there's been attention, right? People have, we've kind of gone back and forth.
Let's bring in lots of outside air, but then we had the oil embargo and the issues in the seventies and everybody tightened up the buildings. And then we got sick building syndrome. You know, things got unhealthy cuz we had no outside air ventilation. And so it's, oftentimes people view it as an either or yeah, in an epidemic.
I can, I can improve safety by increasing outside air, but then I'm gonna give up on the cost side and safety came first. So that's what won out. But now we're focusing again, you know, balancing a little bit focusing on the, on the climate side of it, but our view is that it's not on either or we can actually do both.
[00:23:00] Um, and there's some simple principles that can, can guide that. And that's really at the heart of what we do at, in Barrett. So the paper was really an effort to articulate this in a comprehensive way and go beyond what in Barrett does and really think about this more holistically. And so we'll get into that, but that's really was the inspiration is taking the lessons learned from the pandemic that challenges the pandemic hire, uh, highlighted on how we ventilate buildings and deliver safe, healthy indoor environments, um, and show that we, you know, show what we believe, which is they're not mutually exclusive.
We can accomplish both, but we need to think holistically. And we need to think in terms of layered strategies and frameworks that, you know, we try to lay out in the paper. And you
[00:23:37] James Dice: had it, wasn't just varied, right? In this, you had a bunch of different stakeholders from different technology providers and different service providers.
Can you talk about all the other people that kind of helped
[00:23:47] Christian Weeks: you with this? Yeah, so it be, it sort of, the project took on a bit of a life of its own. Um, and, uh, it made it fun. Um, we, we decided in the end to collaborate with, uh, a number of [00:24:00] other. Kindred spirits, if you will. Other companies that are working at this nexus of indoor air quality and energy efficiency in the building space.
Um, and we sort of thought, you know, we can prob let's collaborate and get our best ideas together. So it's not just in Barrett's voice, but let's bring others into this framework because you know, other people are coming at it from different angles. And, and, and we also, because we believe that in the end, the solution is not just about one technology or another.
There's no silver bullet in our view, it's gonna take a village if you will, to look at this issue holistically and solve it in a comprehensive way. And so we decided to make this a collaborative. Project. Um, and in the end, uh, Inba took the lead, but we worked very closely with the other companies were 75 F which looked at from really a building control standpoint.
Um, we had aware, involved and there come at from the IQ monitoring perspective. Um, we had oxygen eight involved there, uh, company that's developed some really efficient energy recovery ventilation systems and dedicate outside air systems. So they're looking at it from a ventilation standpoint. Um, we had plan L E [00:25:00] D, which is doing upper room GV.
Uh, so looking at air disinfection around, you know, bio aerosols and the pandemic of course, um, safe traces, uh, we've got involved and, um, they've been, they've developed a really innovative aerosol testing technology to help evaluate how, um, well. Ventilation systems and air cleaning systems are working particularly for bio aerosols as well.
Mm-hmm . And then the last collaborated was giga, which has developed the reset standard and reset as far as we can tell still is the only international standard for continuously monitoring indoor air quality. Uh, and we think that's really important in terms of sort of the comprehensive solutions. So we got them involved as well.
So these, uh, seven companies work together to, to build out and refine this framework, uh, and, uh, is now, you know, working with us to bring this to the market and try to show how we can actually put in the practice. Totally.
[00:25:54] James Dice: Yeah. The, the one, the one quote that stuck out to me reading this paper is so we do [00:26:00] not have to rely on outside air for everything.
And that's the piece that, like, I think that's the main theme for me. You said paradigm shift. Right. And I think that's what it is. It's, it's not the only option. And so then if there are other options, how do we then layer in all of them into a strategy? So. The big thing that I wanted to walk through is this four step framework.
I think it really lends itself well to this, you know, longer form conversation. So let's start with the first step, which is define goals. Can you talk more about what,
[00:26:30] Christian Weeks: what that is? Yeah. Well
setting indoor air quality targets, because we hear a lot of talk about better indoor air quality. I want better indoor air quality and a lot of talk about solutions. Yes. You know, different ways to, to try to clean the air, treat the air. And, you know, our view is, well, we gotta start with a goal in mind.
You know, when we say we want better indoor air quality, what do we actually need? Um, and you know, [00:27:00] maybe the reason why. That's not where people naturally started is cause actually it's a complicated question. It's a little more complicated than I think I thought it was particularly just being an energy efficiency guy, trying to figure all this into air quality stuff.
Me too. This
[00:27:12] James Dice: was the section of the paper that I learned the most. I feel like this, this initial thing I, like, I thought it was more simple than it actually is.
[00:27:19] Christian Weeks: Yeah. That this part and the whole discussion on CO2, which we'll probably get to was yeah. Was actually the hardest part as well. Um, but you know, our, our, our, we, you know, we, we, nevertheless we believe that we should start by defining what we mean when we say we want better indoor air quality, because then we can, you know, figure out how to get to the goal line in the way that is most energy efficiency.
But we, if we don't know what good is, if we don't know what we mean by good indoor air quality, then trying to achieve sustainable indoor air quality, we're kind of shooting in the dark a little bit, but in our view, that's where we should start. And that, and that certainly makes sense. Um, if we're thinking about a new building or repositioning a building or doing a tenant fit out, um, We [00:28:00] do note in the paper.
And I, I think it's right, that if we are looking at an existing building, it actually made, makes sense to start with our step four, which is to just do some testing, to get a baseline. And then we can say, okay, are we happier? How much do we wanna improve? And then that can guide the rest of the, the approach.
But in principle, I think the way to start is say, okay, we want good indoor air quality. We want sustainable indoor air quality, but let's define what we mean by that. And so that's the first step is defining the indoor air quality metrics we're gonna use and the targets we're gonna, you know, go for, um, for each of those metrics.
And that's what the first part of the framework is all about. Okay. And
[00:28:37] James Dice: one of the, so I'll just kind of go through some of the things that I feel like I learned here, and you can kind of provide more, more detail to 'em when you first talk about what equivalent air changes per hour means and sort of the
[00:28:50] Christian Weeks: guidance around that.
Yeah. So one of the metrics that, or the sort of the, the. Yeah, I guess, metrics that, that was discussed a lot [00:29:00] during the pandemic, particularly as the guidance evolved, was this notion of air change of, of equivalent air changes per hour. I think many people on your who listen to your podcast are probably familiar with air changes per hour, um, which generally refers to the, a number of times in an hour that all the air in a space is replaced.
Mm-hmm and it's usually associated with ventilation air. So we're just gonna, you know, ventilate a building and we're gonna change it all the air two times an hour, three times an hour. Um, and you know, the, the, the concept behind, you know, the, the, the notion there is that if we replace all the air, it's gonna be clean, it's gonna be fresh.
It's gonna be safe and healthy. Yeah. Well, if we're gonna look at other approaches to, you know, I guess the point is there are other ways to deliver cleaning to air. We can filter that air. We can disinfect it if we're focused on, you know, with upper room GV, if we're focused on bio aerosols. The notion of equivalent air changes gets at, there are different ways to achieve the goal of three air changes an hour. Let's say mm-hmm . And we might be able to get one equivalent air change with the [00:30:00] ventilation that's in the school building, for example, which, you know, probably isn't providing the, the, you know, the four or five or six, you know, that are, that are recommended with COVID.
So then we supplement that with a local HEPA filter or a UV system. And so equivalent basically is the goal is let's say six air changes per hour, but let's not limit ourselves to only achieving that with ventilation air. If we can deploy HEPA filters or UV systems, then let's understand how. Together on a cumulative basis, get us to our, our target mm-hmm
Okay. So that, that got a lot of attention in the pandemic as people were thinking about, well, how do we account for, you know, I'm in a, you know, Joe Allen or bill Banford were saying, we need 4, 5, 6 air changes per hour. And her school saying, well, I can't do that. I've only got two or three and people start saying, well, what about the HEPA filter?
What about the GV? So that's where this notion of equivalent air changes came together. Mm-hmm got
[00:30:51] James Dice: it.
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[00:32:01] James Dice: That makes total sense. The, the next question I had was the different metrics you recommend monitoring in here. So you can, you, can you talk about like, maybe get into another level of detail below? Like what is acceptable into air quality and how do I think about defining out the metrics that matter to.
[00:32:19] Christian Weeks: Yeah. So the, um, AC actually now for the first time, uh, and by now, I mean, in February of this year, Ashray actually defined what is acceptable into air quality in terms of 14 specific, uh, they call 'em design compounds now. Um, and we have the table in our, in our paper, so people can find it there in reference to the, to the original document from Ashray.
This was in addendum AA. To standard 61, which was published in February. Um, so they give you a list of contaminants and they give you design limits. And basically they say, if you can stay below these limits, then you know, you're gonna have acceptable indoor air quality. And then of course you can design for [00:33:00] enhance indoor air club by going above those limits.
And that may be in reference to the lead or well, or reset, you know, recommendations as well, which we, which we summarize here. Um, so that's sort of the let's, if you wanna be specific, that's how Ashray defines now acceptable into, in terms of specific contaminants and design limits that they've prescribed in this addendum.
Okay. Um, we try to simplify that in the paper because 14 contaminants, some of which I can't even pronounce and most people, you know, probably can't pronounce, uh, is a lot to think about. And so we simplified it down to, uh, uh, I think it was just five in the end. Uh, we recommend, uh, in our paper that people define IQ goals around particulate, uh, 2.5 PM, 2.5.
Uh, ozone carbon monoxide formaldehyde. Um, and if they want to maybe add CO2, but those are the, the core ones PM 2.5 ozone, uh, formaldehyde and sorry, carbon monoxide is the one. I, I is the four. Um, and, and we came up with this list very intentionally. And, [00:34:00] and if you want James, I can just walk through some of those.
Yeah. So, um, what we were looking at these different contaminants is controlling for what's coming into buildings from outdoors. And, and, and sort of how hazardous it is and also how prevalent it is. Uh, and then also what's being generated indoors and, and same questions, you know, how prevalent and, and how hazardous is it.
Um, and, and of course, trying to refer to the science, um, and, and what the experts are saying here. So, you know, not just making up as we go, but really basing it, grounding it in the science, um, PM 2.5 I think is, is pretty straightforward. And, and most people, um, who are thinking about indoor air quality, you know, do think about this.
This is the small particulate that gets in the lungs and could be an irritant dust, pollen, you know, these sort of things. Um, it generally comes in from outdoors and we generally try to control for it using various levels of, of filtration, particle filtration, mirror filters, you know, um, and increasingly that's, you know, people are pushing for Mer 11 and Mer 13, whereas, you know, it's many buildings are still Mer eight.
So that was [00:35:00] an easy one, I think, to control this sort of essentially, you know, pollutants coming in from outdoors. Mm-hmm . Um, the other one that we add to the list was ozone. Um, ozone is, is, um, generate also outdoors, uh, and typically is sort of, um, uh, pollution reacting to sunlight and, and heat. Um, and ozone is a carcinogen.
Uh, it's something we don't want to be breathing, uh, and, uh, and it comes in from outdoors. So it's, it's something that we can measure. Um, and it's, uh, it's a gas unlike the particulate matter. So it's a way for us to get a view as to what's coming in outdoors in terms of gases and specifically trying to control for, for, for, uh, for, um, for this particular contaminant.
Um, the other two, as I mentioned, or while the other one is that we focus on indoors is from aldehyde. Um, and this is an interesting one, and this may be where there's some new information shared in the paper that, that people may not be familiar with. You know, oftentimes we talk about indoor generated gases.
We talk about T. Total volatile, organic compounds. And we talk about comp you know, VOCs, you know, in general. And there are [00:36:00] hundreds of VOCs that are in the air that we breathe. Um, and, uh, but they're not all equally, uh, important from a health standpoint and in terms of their prevalence, uh, and what the research shows and what we have found in our own work is if we're thinking about the indoor generated gases for Mede height is actually oftentimes the long pull in the tent.
Um, it's something that is actually quite common in many commercial buildings. And even at low levels is very problematic from a health standpoint. EPA recently had some more information come out about this. Um, and, and so because it's, it's quite common and even at low levels can be problematic. When you, when you do calculations mass balance calculations about these different contaminants, that's often the one that becomes sort of the long pole, the tent.
And so if you can control for it. Then you're, you're gonna be fine, you know, 99 times out of a hundred on all the other ones. And so we suggest that that's the one that we really focus on in [00:37:00] these, uh, indoor environments to control is indoor gases. Um, the challenge with, from Alva height is that it's not as easy to measure.
Um, when you think about monitoring, uh, indoor gases, oftentimes you're looking ATT VOC, monitors, mm-hmm , and they're fine in terms of giving you a trend for what's happening, is it going up and down, but if you want a granular view of what's actually going on with these VOCs, the sensing technology today, unfortunately, isn't that robust at a, at a more, uh, at a more, um, Granular level.
So what we propose is, you know, in terms of monitoring is yeah, putting the TBO C sensor so you can see the trends, but if you really wanna make sure you've got good indoor air quality and controlling those indoor generated gases do twice a year, at least, uh, take air samples and determine, look at where you are from aha level.
So that's kind of the background there. Carbon monoxide is the last one, which we say should be on that list. And it's one that can be generated indoors or outdoors. It's a result of combustion. So it can come from cooking. It can come from, you know, the cars, you know, driving by your building outdoors. Uh, it is also, um, very, uh, you know, something that we should be worried about if it exists.
And [00:38:00] so because of that and because it's relatively easy to monitor using continuous monitoring, you know, we, we put that on the list as well. So really trying to get at what's coming in from outdoors that we need to worry about in terms of gases and particulate, what's generated indoors, what are the sort of the, the long pull and the tent, if you will, um, that we need to focus on to make sure we get that right.
Um, and trying to make these actionable for the most part, make sure that we can, you know, there are tools available to monitor them.
[00:38:24] James Dice: Totally. And why, why CO2? So you mentioned those four and then you said CO2 is basically optional. Why? Cause I mean, that's gonna be surprising to a lot of people I would think.
Yeah. They think IQ and they, most people probably pretty much immediately think CO2 sensor.
[00:38:41] Christian Weeks: So yeah. Why is that optional? This is probably the part of the paper where I also learned the most and, and frankly spent the most time to make sure we got it right. Um, and had the opportunity, uh, after we com just before we published the paper to speak to one of the authors, um, of one of the, the Harvard studies, uh, around indoor air quality and [00:39:00] productivity.
And he actually complimented us on how, how we described the science on CO2 and, and that we got it. Right. So I felt really good about that. Cool. Um, essentially the science on CO2 is that, um, at the levels found in buildings. CO2 in and of itself is not a contaminated concern. The science is, is varies on this, but typically until people don't, the science says you don't need to worry about CO2 isn't contam.
Until you get to 2000, 3000, maybe even 5,000, uh, parts per million. Yeah. Um, so as a contaminant, uh, you don't typically find those in buildings if you did, you'd want to deal with it, but you typically don't find those in, in, in most, you know, well operated buildings. Um, nevertheless, there's been a lot of focus on CO2 and discussion about CO2.
We've had Harvard studies and other studies that have talked about it and, and we have lead and well standards that, that prescribe CO2 limits. Um, and so it's very much in the consciousness. Um, and what is behind that is that [00:40:00] CO2 is. Um, a good proxy of how many people are in a space and the, and the effects on indoor air quality resulting from, from people and bios.
It's also a pretty good can be used as a good indicator of how effective ventilation systems are, because if you've got people in a space and you're replacing the air that CO2 that people are generating will be constantly, you know, um, exchanged or, or, uh, diluted. And so, you know that you have effective ventilation, but the problem with CO2 is that a it's not a containment in and of itself.
It's only a proxy for other things, occupancy and effective ventilation. Um, uh, but if we're really trying to get at good indoor air quality, you know, there are a lot of things that impact indoor air quality. They don't have anything to do with people mm-hmm . Um, and, uh, and there are a lot of ways to control indoor ALO.
They don't have anything to do with ventil. Like my favorite example is from the pandemic is you had all these people looking at wanting to use CO2 monitors to know how good their air quality was and their, or their ventilation system is, or their, yeah. Basically how safe they are. But they're relying on [00:41:00] HEPA filters to clean the indoor, which is a very valid approach.
But the HEPA filter is not removing CO2. So you could have a high CO2 reading in a classroom, but be really safe from a COVID standpoint because you've got these HEPA filters blasting in the corner and those two don't don't sort of work together. So those are the limitations of CO2. Um, and, um, and, and, but there's been so much confusion about that Ash rate even recently put out a position document on CO2 and they basically say it, it's not a contaminant in of itself.
It shouldn't be used, uh, as a, you know, as a contaminant and, and as the only metric of indoor air quality, it may be an effective, you know, indicator of occupancy and ventilation effectiveness. If that's the approach that's being used to make sure you have good indoor air quality, but it shouldn't be used alone.
And, and there are many other better metrics for really understanding indoor air quality. And that's what we try to highlight in the paper.
[00:41:48] James Dice: The, um, thing that stuck out to me there was that I didn't realize there, like I think the quote in the paper was, there's not a clear linkage between CO2 as a contaminant and cognitive [00:42:00] function. So there's cognitive function piece has been really taking off in our industry. I mean, great studies is basically showing that better ventilation equals better cognitive function scores, and people have taken that as a proxy for, okay, well then our occupants are, employees are gonna our students or whatever the building is, are gonna be more productive.
Yeah. Um, and it was really insightful to me to, to break the connection between CO2 and the scores. So can you talk a little bit more about that? Yeah. Piece of the science.
[00:42:28] Christian Weeks: So we, we don't argue the science. Let's just say better indoor air quality leads to better cognitive function. Mm-hmm and many of those studies have looked at CO2 as a proxy, but they've also correlated cognitive function with lower levels of VOCs or level levels of particulate matter.
So there's a correlation between cognitive function and some of these indicators, the question is what's the causation. Um, and I think when you parse that a little bit more, what you find is CO2 is used as a, as a proxy for are we ventilating this building [00:43:00] well, and if we have good ventilation, then we're gonna have better air quality and therefore better, uh, productivity, cognitive function.
But what we try to highlight here is that CO2 is not the contaminants sort of the proxy, and there should be multiple proxies used. And a lot of these studies do they look at VOCs and they look at particulate, but the other consideration here, or the thing we try to highlight is that ventilation is not the only way.
To live a good indoor air quality and therefore good cognitive function. Um, there are other ways to do that. And some of those other ways are more energy efficient. And if we're trying to achieve sustainable indoor air quality, we should be, you know, incorporating these other approaches as well. Not just rolling on outside air ventilation.
[00:43:36] James Dice: right. That's a great segue to step two, the four step process, which is clean indoor air. So I think we we've benchmarked or we've decided what our goals are. Why is, why is step two cleaning? Why is that the, the start of actual
[00:43:51] Christian Weeks: action? Yeah, so, and, and I think what you're highlighting here in particular is that step two is clean indoor air and step three then is, is [00:44:00] the optimized ventilation.
Yeah. And, and our framework, we call it the clean first framework, uh, which is maybe a bit provocative, but we're trying to drive this shift in thinking that, okay, we know we want good indoor air quality. The studies say good into air quality, the better cognitive function let's increase ventilation rates.
That's how most people are thinking about this. And what we're saying is no, if we've been thoughtful about setting IQ targets for these different metrics, we just talked about let's then go to, okay, what's the most energy efficient way to achieve those targets. And just like in other parts of our lives, generally recycling things is a better starting point than just throwing everything out and replacing it with something new.
Yes. So what we're suggesting is we have a target now let's see how close to that target we can get by cleaning the indoor air. And then let's add the ventilation on top of that to supplement that and make sure we maintain building pressurization appropriately. So that's why clean the clean, the indoor air comes next.
We have a goal. Let's see how close we get to that goal. Let's make sure we verify and [00:45:00] measure that that's later in the framework. Um, and then we'll add the ventilation piece on top rather than just go from, okay. I want better your require. Let me increase my ventilation rate. And by the way, my energy cost just went way up.
Got it. Got it. So.
[00:45:12] James Dice: Cleaning there's a bunch of different ways to do it. Right. And, and, and this, one of the things I learned is this concept of layering, the different cleaning technologies. So you have Mer 13 filters, you have soit filters, like you guys, um, produce, you have local HEPA filters, and then you have ultraviolet radiation.
Can you talk about what you mean by layering them together and then what each of those are are for you've already talked about piece.
[00:45:40] Christian Weeks: Yeah. So again, this has been another area area for us to explore and try to, you know, simplify without, without, um, compromising sort of the, the science behind this. Um, when we think about, you know, air quality and cleaning or air quality, there are actually three elements that we need to address.
[00:46:00] Um, and we've talked about some of these there's the particles mm-hmm of the dust, the pollen, these sort of things. Then there's the pathogens. Which are the, you know, living organisms, the viruses and things like that. They actually move through the air attached to particles. So they're somewhat related to particles, but we wanna, you know, there's been a lot of focus on viruses and we think that's important.
Um, and then the third piece is the gases. So when we think about layered air cleaning strategies, we're thinking about how can we address particles, pathogens, and gases by combining different technologies so that we get the air cleaning, achieve the air clean targets we just set most efficiently. Um, and so for particles.
What we need to keep doing is putting in these Mer filters that remove these particles. If we need really good particle filtration, we should go all the way up to HEPA filters. But at a minimum, we would recommend Mer 13 filters because they're, they're very efficient on the particles. And by the way, they're really good on par pathogens, which is how the [00:47:00] virus moves to the air, um, attached to a particle.
So Mer 13 in our view is, um, will become the standard. Um, and the building code today says MEV eight. In most cases, there's now already a movement with an Ashray to make that Mer 11 and Mer 13 will be after Mer 11. Um, and, and that's how you deal with particles, uh, and base level defense against pathogens in our view, um, for pathogens, you know, we suggest targeting six equivalent air changes per hour.
Needs some more work, frankly, in talking to the scientists. It's, it's the best we have today, but it needs some more analysis. Um, but if we can't get there with our Mer 13 filters, then we suggest supplementing that with local HEPA filters or, um, upper room GV to get you those, the rest of the weight to the six or more, if you want to go, even above that and particularly focus on those common areas, those classrooms, those people, you know, getting together in the context of a pandemic.
Got it. So that's how we get the particles and the pathogens. [00:48:00] We get the nerve filters. We get, you know, the particle filters. We get, he, if we need it, we can add upper room UV if we need that on the, on the pathogens. And then the last piece is the gases. And that's really where we've made the biggest contribution in bear in terms of developing these Soin filters that capture those gases.
Got it. And when I'm looking
[00:48:15] James Dice: for a target. Equivalent air changes per hour. How do I then add up the contributions of each of these layers? Yeah. To get to my target from targeting six. How does that, how do I add up to that six?
[00:48:29] Christian Weeks: Yeah. So the, the, this concept of equivalent air changes, there're actually some calculators that've been developed and we link to some of them in the paper.
Um, it's it's most directly relevant when we are thinking about it from a and a lot of these calculators are designed around, um, particulates and pathogens. Mm-hmm . Um, but what we, when we think about layered strategies in the context of this framework, which goes beyond the pandemic and goes beyond just worrying about airborne viruses, um, What we are, what we propose is that you use the Mer filters [00:49:00] to make sure you're addressing the PM 2.5, which is on that Ashray list of contaminants.
It's, it's a list of contaminants plus PM 2.5. Um, and then we suggest you address the, the gases with the so filter. So that's the layering. We're not replacing your particulate filter with a Sobon filter. We're layering them together. So you're attract dealing with the particles and the gases mm-hmm . And then the pathogens is really during a pandemic, you need to make sure you have high, high nerve filters, or you need to supplement with HEPA or upper room GV.
So that's how we would layer. But if you're thinking about the pandemic, thinking about your equivalent air changes in that six goal, which is really for, you know, a pandemic mode, um, that's where these calculators have been developed. Um, Ashray got some of their others they're linked in our paper and used those to do those calculations.
Got it. Okay. Okay. Step three.
[00:49:45] James Dice: That's this is where we bring in ventilation and you guys don't say. Bring in ventilation, you say optimize ventilation. So can you talk, we already talked a little bit about Ash. Ray's two different procedures and how you guys are going into the I a Q [00:50:00] P option of the two.
Yeah. Can you talk about what you mean by optimize?
[00:50:05] Christian Weeks: Yeah. So the, as I said before, the ventilation rate procedure, which is what most people are using today is a prescriptive, uh, procedure. It just says, I have this many people, I have this much area. This is how much air I'm gonna bring in and I'm ignoring the me filters or the sob filters or whatever else is going on.
So the optimization is let's account for what we've accomplished. With those other air cleaning systems towards our IQ targets, we set in step one when determining that ventilation rate that we now need on top of air clean to make sure we get the, you know, achieve that sustainable indoor air quality, that efficient, you know, air quality.
And so the optimization is really pointing us towards the IQ procedure, which is a performance based approach to, to determine that minimum or access, you know, if you wanna go above minimum, you can of course, uh, ventilation rate. And so that's really what the optimization means. And, and we suggest [00:51:00] further, as we say in the paper is to optimize that ventilation rate around the indoor air quality procedure accounting for the air, which allows you to count for the air cleaning capabilities or, or, you know, solutions that you've deployed.
But the further optimization then is also to make that ventilation that you still will need, um, most efficient by incorporating energy recovery. Uh, and so that's part of the optimization that's that's within step three. Got it. Okay.
[00:51:27] James Dice: That piece, that when I read it, I was like, okay, I'm familiar with that.
Like, we, I got like 20 pages in and I'm like, okay, this first, first part that I didn't feel like was new to me. Was there anything new to you when you were doing that, that, that
[00:51:39] Christian Weeks: step? Yeah. I think one of the things that has really started to resonate when we think about optimizing ventilation is how that can not just, um, approve the efficiency of your ventilation system, cuz you're, you're accounting for the air cleaning, uh, capabilities here, but it actually helps with this whole electrification agenda.
And there's been a lot of folks on [00:52:00] heat pumps and we've in the paper. We have to connect the dots to, to tie it into the heat pump. Mm-hmm um, CRA as well. And the whole notion there is that when we use the IQ procedure with air cleaning, because we're able to reduce the he and cooling load on the. We can actually make deploying heat pumps more cost effective because you don't need as many heat pumps.
And by the way, if we're trying to retrofit a building with heat pumps, we're gonna reduce the electrical service. So the cost to upgrade electrical service in some of these buildings, we're trying to electrify can be significant. And if we can go from 30 heat pumps to only needing 20 heat pumps, cause we're conditioning, less cold outdoor air in the wintertime, not only to extend the range of these heat pumps, cause we're gonna have more cleaned recirculated air.
So we're not gonna limit the capabilities of the heat pump as much, but it's also gonna be more cost effective and not impact the electrical load as much, which, uh, will support this. So the beauty of this clean first approach, like I said, it's really designed to be a comprehensive holistic approach. And what we start to see is that the [00:53:00] air cleaning solutions integrated with the, um, IQ procedure with ventilation, with, uh, energy recovery also enables you know, doing, going further with heat pumps or other solutions that that help with Decar.
The decarbonization agenda.
[00:53:15] James Dice: Yeah. And, and less capital cost for this transition that you know, is definitely necessary for, from a
[00:53:21] Christian Weeks: societal side. And maybe I can give a quick plug there's there's NIDA's done some really good work, um, around something, they called resource efficient electrification mm-hmm it's come out the empire building challenge work that they've done.
And some folks from RMI and others have been involved in this. And, um, their whole framework starts with let's reduce the load as much as we can. Mm-hmm because it makes it easier to transition to electrification. And that's exactly what the clean first framework allows you to do is let's first reduce the load by cleaning the indoor air as much as we can optimizing that ventilation with energy recovery, and then it makes it easier to do the heat pumps and the other things we wanna do to electrify [00:54:00] buildings.
So, um, a plug for the work that the team working in the empire building challenge has done in this resource efficient electrification framework, I think is worth, uh, people having a look at. Yeah. Yeah, definitely.
[00:54:10] James Dice: Okay. Step four. Monitor I wrote down monitor, validate control. Um, I don't remember if that's exactly what you guys called it, but I think I have a lot of questions here, so I wanted to get to this for sure.
Um, but can you talk about just kind of introduce this step?
[00:54:25] Christian Weeks: Yeah, yeah. So we actually, our order is validate monitoring control. Um, and the reason for that is that we wanna make sure that these air cleaning systems that we've deployed are doing their job once the building comes online. And so the first step in actually the Ashray, the updated Ashray standard around the indoor air quality procedure requires you to go in and do testing post occupancy and make sure that with your optimized ventilation and your clean air clean systems, you're delivering against the design targets that are listed in the standard.
So the first validation is let's get in there. [00:55:00] Let's do air sampling. From, and these other contaminants that you can't do with monitoring, make sure everything is, is working right off the bat. And then we add the monitoring piece next, because we wanna then continuously monitor that. And it's almost like fault detection, right?
For indoor air quality. We wanna make sure the air clean system, the ventilation everything's working fault detection can actually help us do this. And some fault protection platforms I believe are looking at IQ as well. Um, but it's, it's, let's validate the design in practice, post occupancy, and then let's monitor it to keep that, watch that heartbeat and make sure we maintain those IQ targets from step one.
Um, and then the last piece is ideally let's just not monitor it in a separate platform, but let's actually integrate the IQ monitoring with the building management system so that we can make adjustments. Dynamically and hopefully automatically, uh, to account for changes in occupancy changes in outdoor air conditions during wildfire season or on a hot ozone alert day.
Um, you know, this is, uh, this doesn't have to be a [00:56:00] static design, right? We can make this dynamic with, by time to monitoring the control system and allowing us to dial up or down air cleaning systems or dial up or down that outside air ventilation, uh, to most efficiently and con you know, continuously achieve those IQ targets.
Yeah. That's the piece that I
[00:56:17] James Dice: wanted to ask you a little bit more detail around. So to my knowledge, so if you think about this world that has happened over the last five years or so, where we've had this explosion of these, you know, dedicated standalone vertical, full stack IOT, basically IOT stacks, right?
So designed for indoor air quality CO2. I have one right here. Yeah. Um, over my shoulder here in my, in my room. Typically, most of the time, those are not being pulled in and used for some sort of close loop control sequence. Um, and if they are typically it's just CO2. Right. You know, and [00:57:00] there's typically a, an HVAC silo and there's an IQ silo, and most of the time, those are
[00:57:05] Christian Weeks: not branched.
So like a black back in your foundations, class, James talking about these different silos and different jobs at these different exactly. Don't do 'em together. Yeah,
[00:57:14] James Dice: exactly. So that's, that's the paradigm that, that this industry has come to. Yeah. Um, when I read that in your paper, I was like, okay, cool.
Yeah. But is that happening? Right? How, how is that happening? I'd love to hear from the people you engaged with in writing this. Yeah. Is that the next step with writing control sequence?
[00:57:34] Christian Weeks: Yeah, I would say that it is step four in our framework. And it's probably the step that is least mature in terms of market readiness, for all the reasons that you were just referring to.
Um, we did collaborate with 75 F on this piece because what they have done is tried to develop a, you know, cloud first I O based, you know, BMS system that can do a lot of these things natively mm-hmm and they are doing some of them today. [00:58:00] Um, they, you know, they're able, you know, their system does a lot of, you know, does things like, you know, can, can be adapted to occupancy, which many BMS systems can do today using demand control, ventilation based, you know, sequences.
Yeah. Um, but they can also isolate parts of the building. And, um, they have a broader IQ monitoring capability that is natively integrated into, uh, their building management system. So we think they're a great example of. Um, someone on the forefront of this yeah. Forefront of how we actually make what we talked on this paper, a reality.
Um, but I think that it's, it's probably exception more than the rule yet in terms of actually being deployed in this way. Yeah. Um, hopefully we lay at a roadmap for how it can be done and the value of doing it in this way. Um, and, uh, you know, but, but, um, I think the capabilities are commenting with companies like 75 F and, and hopefully we'll, we'll see more of that in the field going forward.
[00:58:56] James Dice: Yeah. Cuz it just, it just follows from logic that [00:59:00] if indoor air quality is not just about ventilation anymore, well then we need ventilation control sequences that take everything else into. At some
[00:59:08] Christian Weeks: point, well, and there are more and more, I mean, there are other companies out there. It's not just say that, but that are, are deploying sensors outside the building.
So they're adapting to outdoor air quality. They're, they've got sensors, um, or, or occupancy, um, readers in the space and what, and, and they're looking at the weather. And then they're doing optimization, you know, using machine learning algorithms to basically figure out what's the right sequence for the next 15 minutes.
Right. Accounting for how many am I building? What's going on outdoors. What's the weather gonna be in the next hour? Um, and so there are startups that are doing this, and I think what will happen over times is that will become more the norm than, you know, the cutting edge. Yeah. Um, and that's what we're sort of, you know, pointing to in this fourth part of our framework.
Yeah. And I think that's
[00:59:52] James Dice: another area. This is another area, you know, energy versus IQ and then all the different ways [01:00:00] to ensure IQ, right. That's a optimization problem. That's too complex for most control systems today. And so that's where you need the startups to come in and say, okay, there's a better way to actually do this, uh, improving upon, you know, P ID loops essentially.
So you guys closed this case study out with, or so you go closed the white paper out with the case study and. It just basically tied it home for me, which is you went into this building at the university of Miami and decreased the ventilation, and yet which saved a lot of energy and yet air quality improved.
Can you talk a little bit
[01:00:37] Christian Weeks: about that? Yeah, so we did a project a couple years ago, the university of Miami in their wellness center, where they were, um, Unsatisfied not satisfied with the indoor air quality they were getting. Um, they had tried to just pump in more outside air, but in Miami that was really intensive energy intensive and their systems had some limitations and they were looking for other ways and they [01:01:00] basically, uh, you know, were introduced, we didn't call it sustainable IQ or clean first at the time, but that's essentially what we did.
Uh, and so in that case, we deployed, um, they had, you know, Mer filters for particulate and we weren't worried about it yet, but by aerosols, um, but they didn't have anything on the gases side of, so they were just relying on outside air ventilation to control those gases. And so we added the Orant filters, uh, as part of these R modules that we deployed there.
Um, and as you said, we were able to reduce the outside air by 75%. Relative to the V P baseline that they were using before. Uh, and that reduced the H V a C peak demand by 41% and reduced their H VC energy consumption by 36%. They, it unlocked $20,000 a year in savings, uh, about, uh, 33 cents per square foot, uh, normalized for their area there and improved inter air quality.
We lowered VOC levels. We lowered, um, particulate levels. We, uh, lowered even the CO2 [01:02:00] level because we had our CO2 scrubbing unit installed there. And so we put it in here because we're like, this is an example, you know, of where this works. Now. They didn't have a dynamic controls piece. Right. That last piece wasn't there.
We did go in and validate. We did testing. In fact, NRE came in and did both energy and IQ M and B to independently verify. The improved IQ, even with 75% less outside air, but, um, we didn't have the sort of continuous monitoring or the, that control piece, which again is sort of where we think the cutting edge is, but the rest of this can be done today.
It's been done before that project is a great example of it.
[01:02:37] James Dice: Yeah, totally. Let's let's close out with ROI. So if I think about this from an owner standpoint, um, a lot of owners have outside air dampers, right? They have the ability to throw the outside air dampers open. Like they did. A lot of them did at the beginning of COVID, but not a lot of owners have your guys' technology.
Not a lot [01:03:00] of owners have all the other technologies that are talked about here, including monitoring, including controls that are capable of what we talked about. So how do I think about buying all these new things and given that investment? What's the return? How do I think about the return on investment with all
[01:03:16] Christian Weeks: of these investments?
Yeah, so, um, Uh, if, if we think about it in terms of the steps, step one is coming up with the targets, you know, define the metric of the targets. Many people can probably do that themselves based on what we offer as recommendations in the paper. Maybe you wanna get a little consulting help on that, but that shouldn't be, you know, too expensive.
Um, if you want some help with that, uh, and many, many vendors, um, will provide that as part of their, you know, their sales process. We can help with that, um, aware, trying to sell you IQ monitors. They'd be happy to talk to you about, you know, the metrics and targets that we have in here and their view on that as well.
Um, so that's pretty the second piece around air cleaning
air. When it [01:04:00] unlocks energy efficiency, benefits can pay for. Um, we, we do lots of projects where, um, by deploying our system, which of course does cost some money. Um, and then optimizing that ventilation rate using the IQ procedure, uh, and, uh, reducing the tonnage of cooling capacity required because we're not bringing as much outside air.
We're often doing projects with a negative first cost or a payback. That's certainly, you know, well inside three years. Um, and so, uh, it may not be intuitive initially, you know, putting in more air cleans and it costs more money. Um, but it can be very cost effective when we couple this, when we do it the way we outline here in terms of, um, connecting it to the ventilation rate, uh, the university of Miami project, we were just talking about simple payback on that.
It's about three years. Um, so pretty reasonable, especially for a public institution that probably, you know, could, could, could even go a little bit longer if they needed to, um, the, the ventilation piece everybody's gotta ventilate their [01:05:00] building. We're just gonna make it more cost effective, um, by conditioning, less outside air.
So I would not necessarily view that as a big cost ad. Maybe you want to go spend a little more money on a more efficient energy recovery system from auction eight or something like that. But you know, those systems I think, are pretty cost effective and they're gonna pay for themselves in their efficiency.
Um, particularly when they're coupled with the air cleaning the way we, we, we recommend, um, the IQ testing. So we, we do a lot of IQ testing when you do, you can actually get lead points. Extra lead points by doing the IQ procedure as outlined in this paper, but you need to do some testing to validate, um, the, the performance.
And so usually that's done for a couple hundred dollars. Uh, we take air samples, we send 'em to a lab. Um, you know, maybe there's some travel, uh, on top of that, so it can get a little more expensive than that, but it's not crazy expensive. Um, IQ monitoring, I don't have good rules of thumb around, you know, what way or other cell air sensors for.
Um, [01:06:00] so I, I'm not gonna comment on that. Um, and certainly, you know, from a control standpoint, everybody needs a control system. The question is you have a smart one. Um, and, uh, and are you aware, are you in a cycle of upgrading your control system? So I guess the long and short of it is that this doesn't have to cost a lot of money.
In fact, it can save you money. I mean, that's the whole concept with sustainable indoor air quality. Let's do better indoor air quality more efficiently, which efficiently means cost effectively as well. Totally. Um, but there's also the marketing benefits. There's also your avoiding, um, you know, penalties and under local 1 97, New York that are coming on carbon emissions.
So there are many ways to pay for this. Um, if it's not gonna be cost effective, utility incentives will pay for a lot of the solutions that we're describing in this paper as well. So, um, you know, it's gonna vary depending on the building implementation costs are very building specific. Of course, it's gonna vary based on the climate zone and the cost of electricity, you know, reducing outside air ventilation rates in San San Diego doesn't matter because as long as the air.
Quality is good. You're getting outside air temperature for basically free . [01:07:00] So, you know, where we find the strongest value proposition for what we do. And for this framework as a whole is gonna be in markets with hot humid summers, cold winters, medium to high electricity rates, and then you throw on utility incentives and carbon taxes and you're in great shape.
Yeah. So that's how we think about the economics. Payback should be, you know, very reasonable if you put it all together and do it the right way. Awesome. Well, thank you
[01:07:21] James Dice: for writing this, this paper and working so hard on it. I know you worked very, very hard on it, so thank you for doing that. Um, thank you for explaining most of it and a little over an hour, so that's awesome.
Um, let's close that with some carve-outs. I'd love to hear any, any links you recommend that we, we share with people, books, podcasts, you know, movies, things that have, uh, inspired you on your, on your journey.
[01:07:46] Christian Weeks: Well, I, I, my first recommendation is the nexus podcast by James. You should check it out, especially flattering.
Um, uh, you can also find our white paper, um, at white paper dot and ver.com/sustainable IQ. So I'm gonna [01:08:00] plug that nice. Um, but you know, getting out of the work mode for a moment, um, I know on these podcasts, you often ask people about a good book or podcast or something. And, um, I don't read as much as I'd like, but a page, the last page Turner that I got into and really enjoyed, uh, was a book called unbroken by Laura Hillebrand.
Have you read that? Nope. So unbroken is about a, um, world war II army air force. The air force was part of the army at the time. Uh, pilot or I think it was a pilot Louis Zini who, um, was shot down by the Japanese, over the Pacific, during the war. And it's this amazing story about survival, uh, and faith. And he was in the, he, he was at sea for a long time, you know, life raft, um, fighting off sharks and, and trying to sustain himself with what he could catch and a little bit of rain he got.
And then he was in the PW camps for a long time. Um, but it's a, but he, he was resilient and, uh, is, it is an amazing story. And so I, [01:09:00] I recommend it. I think there's a movie out now. So people want the cliff notes version or the, the action, you know, on the screen. Okay. It's a good read and probably a good movie, although I haven't seen it yet.
Love it, love it. Um,
[01:09:13] James Dice: sounds like it might have had an impact on you to stay resilient and keep going as a startup
[01:09:18] Christian Weeks: CEO. Yeah. Yeah. Well, it, it does put things in perspective, right. You know, we get stressed out about little things at work every day, but this guy went through and survived and how he came out at the other end, uh, is, is truly, was inspiring.
So it puts life in perspective and makes you appreciate the little things a little more sometimes.
[01:09:36] James Dice: Awesome. That reminds me of, um, man's search for meeting by Frankel. Yeah. Which was all time great for me. If anyone hasn't read that. Definitely. Yeah. Good. Check it out. Well, those are two very amazing book recommendations.
We'll leave it that. Thanks C. Coming on the show.
[01:09:53] Christian Weeks: This is super thanks. Appreciate it.