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A university monitoring the air quality across campus to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for students and staff

 

Client

National College of Ireland (NCIRL)

Our Solutions

AmbiAir: This includes both the IoT connected indoor air quality monitor, and Ambilytics, our environmental intelligence platform

Challenge

To help keep their complement of 350 staff and more than 5,000 students healthy and safe National College of Ireland approached Ambisense for a solution that would let them monitor the air quality across their network of lecture halls, laboratories, offices, libraries, meeting rooms, and lecture rooms, many of which had differing connectivity requirements. The NCIRL staff also wanted to drive engagement and communications with students and staff around air quality.

Approach

Ambisense conducted a site assessment of the various room types and locations. This assessment determined the required number of monitoring points based on both the college’s needs and the areas identified as potential risk spots – a total of 70 locations were identified and AmbiAir devices installed. Across the campus, and as the location required, the Ambisense devices were configured to send data via LoRaWAN, SigFox, or Wifi. In these areas, notices (figure 1) were attached to doors to let the students and staff know that they were in a room where the air quality was being monitored.

Fig 1.1 NCIRL displaying notices around campus

                                                                                                                                                                                       Fig 1

Results

As can be expected across 70 locations, there were a few areas with problematic air quality. However, the team at NCIRL were keen to use a data-driven approach to risk management, using the Ambilytics platform to identify these problem areas and measure the effectiveness of their remediation actions.

 

Improving Air Quality in Classrooms

The college facilities team received several alerts regarding the CO2 levels in one of the classrooms. A closer inspection of the data showed the space had a consistently higher CO2 level than any of the surrounding rooms, shown by the red line in Figure 2 below. Despite open window notices being issued to the lecturers, the air quality had deteriorated since more students began attending lectures in person. The facilities team took a closer look at the space on the Ambilytics platform assessing the ventilation, noting the occupancy levels of the room, and working to improve the situation.

                                                                                        Fig 2

 

Identification of Faulty AHU (Air Handling Unit)

In January 2022 the NCIRL facilities management team became alerted to very high CO2 levels in one of the lecture theatres. Investigation proved that there was a problem with a controller that communicates between the BMS and one of the air handling units (AHU) that supplies fresh air to the lecture theatre and that they were unable to make any adjustments to the strategy of this AHU. While they were unable to adjust the AHU, the facilities team introduced low-cost behavioural changes – namely opening windows and doors at known periods of high occupancy and were able to use the data to assess their effectiveness. These measures showed an instant reduction in CO2 levels and there have been no readings showing high-risk levels of CO2 since the changes were introduced as shown below in Figure 3.

                                                                                        Fig 3

 

Low-Cost Remediation

NCIRL used the data on the Ambilytics platform to make improvements on how their office staff operated as well as changing behaviours in relation to college classes. In one of the off-campus buildings used by the college there was an increased level of CO2 as staff began returning to the office in February 2022. Shortly after this, the facilities team began to receive regular notifications alerting them to very high CO2 levels in this space.  

They took swift action, contacting the admin team in the office remotely to confirm and address the issue by implementing low costs remediation measures during these meetings, actions that have continued to implement. This proved sufficient as Fig 4 shows that despite increased room use, the CO2 levels (baring an isolated incident) have remained at well within acceptable levels.

                                                                                        Fig 4

Conclusion

The multiple connectivity options on AmbiAir allowed the NCIRL team to connect every required space including those identified as high risk, while the actionable insights generated by AmbiAir helped the NCIRL team get a deeper understanding of the air quality throughout the campus. They used this data to identify problem areas, and take successful, quantifiably proven actions to solve these problems. Notifying those using a room that the air quality was being monitored also helped the students and staff feel safer as they returned to a more on-site classroom approach.

 

 

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