Simulate the air quality inside a building, soon to be a reality

INNOVATION. A startup French developed a tool for numerical simulation able to assess the quality of the air inside a building before it is built. The solution may, in time, become an integrated module in the BIM that would help the management in its choice of materials and ventilation systems. All the details with Maxence Mendez, the young founder of Octopus Lab.
In the future, it will be possible to anticipate the issues of air quality in a building by means of numerical simulations. A young shoot in French, Octopus Lab, has been awarded a coup de cœur of the jury of the Trophies Health Building for his software INCA-Indoor modeling. Maxence Mendez, the founder of the startup, tells us : “The project was born out of basic research, carried out by the universities of La Rochelle and Strasbourg, and financed by Ademe, with the aim of a better understanding of the air quality in low-energy buildings“. The programme, which is spread out between 2013 and 2016 was at the time on field measurements in establishments open to the public with the label BBC. “We have developed a numerical simulation in order to understand these measures. The software could determine the origin of the observed pollutions and it worked really well“, continues the researcher. From there the idea was born to create Octopus Lab, the computer tool able to anticipate the indoor air quality even before the construction of a building.


The company is in the process of creation“, says the scientist, who now works with the actors of the construction in order to determine at what stage and at what the interlocutors address it, in an architectural process. “Generally, this will be in phase, APS, or APD (avant-project summary or final draft), according to the information available“, we he says. “So we work with the project management assistance or the office of graduate studies to work as a service provider“. Because the software is still, for the time being, a solution is relatively complex to implement if one has no expertise in indoor air quality or chemistry of the pollutants… “We participate in the meetings of the steering of the project, and then we test virtually the materials and ventilation systems, following the client’s wishes before making recommendations, “says Maxence Mendez. But the goal is to develop a commercial version of the tool, with an interface designed to be more ergonomic. From basic data such as the dimensions of the structure, its glazed surfaces, and the position of its breakdowns, the systems used (with the nominal flow rates and applications of steering), the location of the building (in order to assess the sources of pollution and external) and the materials used, the users will be able to, themselves, assess the quality of its atmosphere.


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The simulation is performed over a whole year, taking into account the peaks of ozone in summer and particles in the winter“, provides us with the specialist. “It is the first tool to forecast the quality of the air inside that to be validated. A research team from the university of York is also working on the subject, but it does not describe pollutant by pollutant, and develops rather a tool of basic research, more oriented towards the chemical reactivity, “he argued. The ultimate step will be for Octopus to interface their product with the BIM. Maxence Mendez announces : “We have a market study in progress, to know what will be the most suitable format to export the data : IFC or plug-in owner ?“. The choice of the target software – can-be Revit – will therefore be critical to be adopted by the largest number of professionals possible. “The objective will be to ensure that the implementing authority is autonomous in terms of simulation of indoor air quality. The recommendations will be automated, based on the detected problems“, describes the scientific.


This transition to a digital model will be made quickly after the release of the commercial version of the INCA-Indoor, within a year and a half to two years maximum. Octopus Lab will first contact the Plan for Digital Transition in the Building and will also seek financial partners to put in place, when the time came, a sales force across the world : “Our product is unique, as much to disseminate as widely as possible !“, concludes Maxence Mendez.

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