[Exclusive Interview] This Real Estate Tech Startup Helps You To Breathe Clean Air Indoors

Recently we interacted with Mr. Abhinav Gupta is the co-founder and CEO of ActiveBuildings, a Mumbai-based startup that is focusing its resources on making clean indoor air accessible for everyone. They’ve partnered with various organizations and communities to deploy their air quality monitors and air cleaners to facilitate clean and safe air for all.

[Exclusive Interview] This Real Estate Tech Startup Helps You To Breathe Clean Air Indoors

Through leading-edge technology and personalized recommendations for each customer, ActiveBuildings strives to create a healthy breathing environment for one’s life indoors.

The world as we know it today has changed and will continue to change. The rapid urbanization of the planet has had a negative impact on the environment. It is, therefore, important to acknowledge that while urbanization is important for evolution, its negative effects also impact all citizens in equal measure.

Here are the interview highlights:

  • How does ActiveBuildings distinguish itself from other companies that are working in the air quality industry?

The air quality industry in India continues to be unregulated. There are no standard certifications or benchmarks that air purifier manufacturers have to adhere to. Due to this, the market is inundated with air purifiers and cleaners that are not targeted towards the average Indian household as they are neither need-specific nor affordable. 

ActiveBuildings has successfully developed RESET-certified air quality monitoring sensors. RESET Air Standards are designed to be scalable and affordable while delivering actionable results. These sensors enable ActiveBuildings to gather data points from all over India and even the rest of the world. While most of the companies in the market are focusing on marketing and selling their air purification devices, ActiveBuildings has been finding ways to leverage the data in order to make clean air accessible to the masses. 

Mr. Abhinav Gupta is the co-founder and CEO of ActiveBuildings

In contrast to other companies that focus on the retail aspect of Air sensors, ActiveBuildings examines customer data to find more efficient and cost-effective solutions to improve indoor air quality. As a result of several years of research and analysis, ActiveBuildings has focused on cost-effective, data-accurate technology and products manufactured in India to make clean air accessible to everyone.

  • How is ActiveBuildings catering to the requirements of the residents of the North Indian region?

Specifically, in North India, ActiveBuildings has been providing air quality monitoring to their various B2B and B2C clients. While rising PM2.5 and PM10 due to construction dust, cooking and stubble burning become a major problem in North India, especially in the winter season, humidity, elevated carbon dioxide levels and pollution from household chemicals, remain a year-round problem in Indian homes.

Maximum homes in Delhi are facing toxic particles and allergens from unsafe levels of PM2.5 and humidity in indoor air as per ActiveBuildings’ data. Office buildings are also subjected to pollutants from chemicals and usually see spiked CO2 levels due to closed architectural builds, which can lead to a loss of productivity among employees. ActiveBuildings stresses on the importance of air quality tests to understand the dominant pollutants in the indoor space. An air purifier could benefit in case of high PM2.5 but not for high CO2 levels or humidity issues, hence, the solutions recommended after the air test are customised for each customer.

ActiveBuildings has also been working towards better air quality for lesser-privileged communities in Mumbai and Karnataka which do not have the resources to combat air pollution, and hope to expand these community efforts in North India as well, with the support of local authorities.

  • Conventional air purifiers are not affordable for the majority of the population, what are the more economically viable alternatives that can be explored by the people?

Air purifiers are still considered luxury products, which is why they are perceived as expensive. But statistics by organizations like WHO, verifying the rising number of deaths and diseases attributable to household pollution, clearly asserts that clean and safe air is a necessity for a healthy life, which is why air cleaners need to be both accessible as well as economical. It is commonly believed that expensive products of popular brands tend to be most effective and reliable. However, several new entries in the retail market have proved that air-cleaning technology can be affordable. 

While choosing from the variety of options in the market, a buyer must consider the basic features of a suitable air cleaner, such as the size which should correspond with the size of the indoor space, the Air Change per Hour or ACH rate which refers to the number of times the cleaner can filter the entire volume of air in a room in an hour; the filters used, for instance, HEPA filters are best suited for smaller pollutants; and finally, the energy-efficiency of the air cleaner. 

ActiveBuildings’ RESET-certified, data-accurate and handy low-cost air cleaners are equipped with HEPA filters that maximise the efficacy of the product and incurs an electricity cost of Rs. 2 per day, assuming it runs 12 hours a day. For commercial spaces, ActiveBuildings’ UltraViolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) systems are most suitable as they are low-cost, easy to maintain and eliminate any airborne contaminants and pathogens. 

  • What sort of data has ActiveBuildings been able to collect over the years, and how does it help in providing air quality solutions?

In the past 5 years, ActiveBuildings has been able to evaluate 7.3 million square feet of indoor space and 850 million data points in the process.  

Data being a critical component to improve air quality, helps ActiveBuildings forecast the source of pollution and suggest the solutions that will be most effective in optimizing the air quality. The ActiveBuildings database of over 840 million data points on IAQ and how different solutions impact the air quality status, guides in making suitable recommendations for clients. 

The data also helps maintain the Service Level Agreements for different buildings,  giving a comprehensive insight enabling advanced analytics and predictions on issues such as – mould and fungal growth (can be derived from humidity), risk of airborne pathogens in a given space (can be derived from concentration of particulate matter), loss of productivity in a given space (depends on the carbon dioxide concentration) and more. 

The future is all about making the right decisions from design to maintenance of buildings using accurate data, advanced analytics and cost-efficient technology.

  • How is ActiveBuildings using technology to ensure timely and accurate assessment?

ActiveBuildings’ air monitoring sensors are based on the Internet of Things or IoT technology. Air monitoring based on IoT has 4 essential components – to monitor the environment through sensors and deliver to information systems, measure the data in quantitative numbers, catalogue data using cloud or data center storage and provide insights after analysis of data to help take the necessary actions.

Although technology makes the product handy, IoT plays the biggest role in collecting, transmitting and analysing the data. This is the reason ActiveBuildings’ Air Evaluation services require zero effort from the customer. Once an indoor air quality test is scheduled for a business or a home, the sensors are deployed by ActiveBuildings’ team for the time period suitable for the area of the space. The sensors assess the composition of the air present in the room, collect the data and send for analysis and a detailed report of the same is presented to the clients, similar to a blood test report showing ideal/safe levels and the current levels of pollutants in the air, along with recommendations specifically suited to the needs of the customer.

ActiveBuildings’ 4G-enabled Air Quality sensors facilitate real-time data accumulation and transmission making way for 24×7 access and quick analysis that help derive need-based solutions.

  • How does ActiveBuildings plan to evolve its products to suit the purpose and convenience of its customers accordingly?

ActiveBuildings continues to develop and improve the accuracy of its sensors. New parameters are also being researched upon so that more pollutants present in the air can be tested such as harmful gases, and finer pollutants while maintaining the cost-efficiency of the sensors. Aesthetic remodelling is also being considered to make the sensors more user-friendly as well as pleasant-looking for home interiors. With the implementation of real-time indicators and batteries in their monitoring devices, ActiveBuildings is working towards making air testing and cleaning more easy and accessible for end-users.

ActiveBuildings has been focusing its effort into developing cost-effective air cleaners built specifically to tackle the demands of the Indian environment. ActiveBuildings is dabbling into Upper room UVGI systems as a one-time investment, low maintenance alternative for cleaning indoor air. Along with that, ActiveBuildings is carrying out research in order to enter water testing and treatment as a service offered alongside air quality improvement.


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