Covid-19 has underlined, yet again, just how important well-ventilated indoor spaces are. Unica had already started to develop Building Insight │ Air before the pandemic began. This innovative solution offers businesses an easy way to get insight into the air quality in indoor spaces. At the end of 2020, Unica launched this solution to the market earlier than originally planned.
The housing association deltaWonen was one of the first business customers who showed interest immediately and purchased three ‘air-quality meters’ for the office in Zwolle. “We have been working with Unica for many years now. We were pleasantly surprised by the innovation capacity that they have demonstrated, particularly in these times,” says Evert Leideman, Managing Director of deltaWonen.
DeltaWonen rents and maintains around 15,000 social housing properties in the municipalities of Zwolle, Kampen and Oldebroek. Sustainability always comes first. The housing association has its offices on the Veerallee in Zwolle. On the other side of the street there is a warehouse and deltaWonen also has another visiting address in Kampen.
“Our office in Zwolle is based in two grand buildings located next to one another, which were previously used as a school. Today the large, high-ceilinged classrooms are used as offices and meeting rooms,” says Evert Leideman, Managing Director of deltaWonen since 2008. Although the impressive building is very attractive, the indoor climate had caused a few headaches over the years. Evert: “It could get very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. So a few years ago we asked Unica to help us with the installation of a new climate control system.”
DeltaWonen had wanted to improve the air quality in the office for a long time. Covid-19 gave them the final push they needed to take action. “During the first wave of Covid-19, most of our employees were working from home. When the measures were relaxed, we began to wonder how we could ensure that after the summer, everyone was able to return to work at the office safely,” says Evert. “There are normally about ninety to a hundred people here. We noticed that this raised a lot of questions. Can ten people work safely in one room, for example? And is there any technology that would allow us to actually monitor air quality?”
The Facilities Team Manager at deltaWonen did some research and discovered Unica’s solution almost immediately. “It turned out that there weren’t many systems like this on the market,” says Evert. “And that was when we discovered that Unica, who we had already enjoyed a good cooperation with for many years, were experimenting with a new air-quality system. The Covid-19 pandemic had accelerated the development of their innovative Building Insight │ Air solution. We were very happy about that of course.”
The most important thing during this Covid-19 pandemic is that our employees feel safe.
According to Evert, Building Insight │ Air is a very user-friendly solution. “You don’t even have to drill a hole in the wall,” he says with satisfaction. “You put the sensor up in a space you want to monitor using double-sided tape. The data collected by the ‘air-quality meter’ can be accessed straight away using an app on your mobile phone. You can even choose to receive a text message if the carbon level in a space becomes too high. Then you can decide whether to open a window or take a group of people to sit elsewhere. This approach works brilliantly for us, because we find liveability more important than a fully insulated indoor climate.”
The fact that Building Insight │ Air could be connected to the existing climate control system and the fact that deltaWonen didn’t have to worry about it for a year, thanks to the subscription service were the deciding factors for Evert in choosing Unica once again. “In the future, more and more offices will be equipped with all kinds of technology. At deltaWonen we’re not interested in owning all that equipment, but we do want a fantastic indoor climate. Unica has responded to this very cleverly with their as-a-service solution. You’re purchasing comfort, as it were. You say how warm, cold or humid you want your space to be, and they arrange it for you. So Unica really has taken all the hassle out of a care-free indoor climate for us with this solution.”
Evert would have liked to say something about the results so far, but the deltaWonen employees have been working from home again since the start of the latest lockdown. “So there isn’t much to say about the way they will be making use of the ‘air-quality meters’ and how the system functions in combination with the climate control installation.”
Evert also expects society to become far more focused on working from home in the future. “Once the Covid-19 pandemic is under control, lots of people will be really pleased to be able to head back to the office again. But, after that, I expect a lot of people will want to work from home part-time. A 20 to 30 percent lower occupation will have consequences for office accommodation, including for us.”
Evert is convinced that Building Insight has the potential to collect a lot more relevant ‘office data’. Because of the current circumstances, deltaWonen will continue to focus purely on air quality for now. “The most important thing during this Covid-19 pandemic is that our employees feel safe and know that they are working in a carefully monitored environment. That gives them peace of mind and confidence.”