Environmental start-up aiming to improve indoor air quality

The potential customers for the Atmos Q system are people-first workplaces that prioritise employee health

Jim and Diane Jim Tangney of Atmos Q. “Our system uses one bank of quality sensors to monitor 10 zones or rooms”

Jim and Diane Jim Tangney of Atmos Q. “Our system uses one bank of quality sensors to monitor 10 zones or rooms”

 

Father and daughter Jim and Diane Tangney are the brains behind Atmos Q, an environmental start-up offering indoor air-quality monitoring that companies can buy as a service.

“People spend 90 per cent of their time indoors where the air can be five to 10 times more polluted than outdoor air, and between the UK and Ireland over 100 people die every day from poor air quality. Worldwide the annual figure is seven million,” say Diane.

Jim Tangney is the product’s designer, and he has had a long career designing, patenting and bringing airflow systems to market all over the world.

Dr Diane Tangney’s background is in innovation and leading new product development in large organisations.

Atmos Q was set up in 2018, and the company is currently piloting its prototype in a live environment, with a further series of paid pilots to follow this summer. Atmos is aiming to capture a slice of the $10 billion global air quality market, and the product is expected to be on the market within the next 12 months.  “The problem with most monitoring solutions is that they are designed to optimise building performance, not human health. Secondly, there’s a technical problem as it’s simply too expensive to put a range of high-quality sensors in every zone but low-cost sensors can have issues with accuracy, consistency and reliability,” says Diane Tangney.

“Jim knew that airflow was the solution, and if you can’t bring high-quality sensors to the room then you need to bring the room’s air to the sensors. We have developed a novel technology to do this that can monitor air quality accurately, consistently and affordably.

Ten zones

“Our system uses one bank of quality sensors to monitor 10 zones or rooms,” she adds. “This means we can afford higher-quality sensors. Additional sensors can be added as needed. Our system keeps people safe, especially critical in the post-Covid environment, and enables organisations to manage the conflicting demands of energy efficiency and increased ventilation.”

The company’s potential customers, at least initially, are people-first workplaces that prioritise employee health. The sceptics may dismiss quality air as a “nice to have”, but Tangney says the benefits are tangible and can boost productivity by up to 30 per cent.

“According to a study by Harvard University, organisations that invest just $40 in indoor air quality per person per year gain $6,500 in productivity per person per year. Better air has long been shown to have health and wellbeing benefits as people think better, while a commitment to employee health also contributes to satisfaction and retention rates.

“Aside from the prevention of death and chronic disease, healthy indoor air can help reduce absenteeism, virus transmission and infection rates, and at a facilities management level to drive the data-driven optimisation of a building’s air quality and use of space,” Tangney adds.

“Healthy buildings command premium rents, and the critical indicator of a healthy building is its indoor air quality data.”

Ventilation

The Atmos system is suitable for workplaces with manual ventilation as well as those with automated systems.

For manually ventilated buildings the system pairs with an app that operates a simple traffic lights system to indicate when the air quality is deteriorating and windows need to be opened. A green light indicates the air is okay, and windows can be closed to conserve energy. In buildings that already have monitoring systems, the Atmos system is integrated into the existing management software.

It has cost roughly €300,000 to bring the product to market, and support for the project has come from Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown LEO.

The revenue model is hardware enabled SaaS. The company’s technology is already patented and independently validated by UCC following a year of trials.

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