More than 70 % of residential buildings have problems with inadequately set building systems. By researching office buildings and worker performance, the entrepreneurs discovered that the productivity of workers can be increased by up to 15 %, and energy usage decreased by approximately 30 % with the right insight, advice, and energy efficiency.
One of the barriers to environmental comfort and energy efficiency in the workplace is that existing indoor-environment analyses are based on humidity and the inlet and outlet temperature. The result of this, Stomph realised, is that managers don’t have the right information and building systems cannot be set correctly.
‘Instead, we place sensor nodes around a clients’ building to measure indoor CO2 levels, temperature, dust, humidity noise, air pressure and other relevant factors…’explains Stomph, ‘All the nodes in a building report their measurements to the gateway device. This device sends all measurements of a building to our web service over 3G, WiFi or Ethernet. The nodes have a modular design. This way we can customise a sensor to the customers’ needs.’ Sensors can be powered by AC with a battery backup or connected to a solar panel power supply, and the device can be placed accessibly and unobtrusively on a desk.
‘Like most startups, we have had quite a journey,’ laughs Stomph, ‘When we started out we knew what we wanted to do – help to improve indoor climate – but we didn’t know what kind of business model we needed. At first we thought the sensors were our product, but actually, while the sensors are central, it’s the software connected to it; the data analysis, that is really special.’
The potential of the team was immediately noticed by energy company Enexis, whose startup support project, enexis unplugged offered them the €15 000 funding to start focusing their ideas and exploring a solution that would tackle energy efficiency and air quality in one product. Other startup supports like Utrechtinc.incubeter and Climat-Kic were also eager to get behind the idea, giving the three graduates the chance to really streamline their concept and develop the necessary software and product system. Rockstart Smart Energy Programme provided the office space, mentoring, and networking access necessary to really get Qwiksense off the ground, as well as contributing a €20 000 equity investment.
Now, the three entrepreneurs have created a product and service that works, not only technically, but on the market as well. ‘QwikSense offers a complete service with all the data for the right insights. We charge a setup fee and a fee per measure point quarterly. One sensor measures approximately 100 m2, and it can be placed one per room.’ By measuring indoor climate and energy usage in one system, the best analysis can be made for healthier, more comfortable and energy-efficient buildings. Clients have an option to use the system to interpret changes themselves, or to receive advise from one of the Qwiksense team member.
The first Qwiksense pilot projects were launched last year in schools and offices with spectacular results; ‘We discovered that other companies hardly ever accomplish measurements in the way that we do,’ declares Stomph. Traditionally, employees develop complaints concerning the quality of the indoor climate in the work environment, and the facility manager arranges an installation company that sends in a onetime assessment over one to two days. Based on the results of this assessment, the building installations are readapted, ‘of course after a period of time the effectivity of these building installations decreases through seasonal influences, and the indoor climate is not monitored properly after a the initial snapshot. QwikSense doesn’t offer a short term service, but measures for at least 12 months, with extra time optional. This way, our clients always gain the most up-to-date facts for creating a productive and energy-efficient work environment.’
The company is currently developing methods for analysing more aspects of the indoor environment, such as light, sound and occupancy. ‘But yes it all takes money. We need to buy more sensors now, for one thing… therefore, we are searching for partners in the sustainability sector, who will use our data to reinforce their proposition and implement our solutions in a more efficient matter.’
By focusing on energy saving and indoor environment simultaneously, Stomph he believes that Qwiksense will help to create healthy, comfortable and energy-efficient buildings, and can to contribute to a quicker energy transition in Europe and beyond.
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