Monitor the air quality of a building in real time

A breath of fresh air in buildings: In situ experimentation with sensors to improve the measurement and management of air quality, and to improve communication with users - Project proposed by Veolia and Icade


  • Data analysis
Veolia headquarters in Aubervilliers @ Hertha Hurnaus
Veolia headquarters in Aubervilliers | Ⓒ Hertha Hurnaus

Information of the project

dates: From 18 Dec 2017 to 31 Dec 2019

Place of experimentation: Icade's OPEN building

Number of partners: 2

Number of solutions tested: 2


The emergence of buildings with high environmental performance and high quality of life poses a double challenge: to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, in particular by making buildings less and less permeable and by limiting losses. related to ventilation, while maintaining good indoor air quality.

We spend on average 80% of our time inside a building. Indoor air quality is therefore a major issue in the same way as outdoor air quality. It has become a source of growing concern for occupants. The boom in individual sensors accessible to the general public has given rise to a new need: that of heads of establishments and operators to be able to objectify the information returned by these new individual sensors in order to provide reliable information to users.

There are two main principles for ensuring good indoor air quality: limiting the emission of pollutants and ensuring effective air treatment and renewal.

Therefore, the issues to be addressed are:

  • do we have sensors to monitor the air quality in a building reliably and cheaply?
  • Which installation management tools can optimize indoor air quality and energy efficiency?
  • how to interact with the occupant of the premises so that he improves his interior environment and prolongs the life of the building?


Low-cost gas and particle sensors are emerging on the market offering many new possible uses.

These sensors provide continuous relative values ​​(quantitative or semi-quantitative) allowing spatio-temporal monitoring of a building. They are less expensive and less intrusive than traditional air measurements to control the ventilation installation. Their low cost would make it possible to equip a building on many points by taking into account the typology of all the premises of the building (exhibitions, activity, materials, ventilation, occupation time).

The limiting factor for the moment is the reliability of the measurements (precision, drift, molecules measured and/or interfering). It is not necessarily necessary to have a true value but a value that can be interpreted with respect to thresholds defined by using the selected sensors and standardized measurements in parallel. In addition, the sensor location strategy is essential to have a good representativeness of the air quality of the building.

These air quality monitoring sensors would supplement and not replace traditional standardized air quality measurements.
A building's control systems control a very large number of technical equipment: heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, fire detection and security systems. For now, they are not really about air quality.

However, what about the reliability of the measurements provided by these sensors, the processing of the data, the alarms generated for the operation of the ventilation? How can these sensors be integrated to improve the management and maintenance of installations with continuous air quality measurements?

Objective of the demonstrator

Be able to evaluate and use air quality sensors according to their purpose in order to establish a dialogue of trust on IAQ between:

  • the occupants of a building, legitimate requesters of information on air quality;
  • Workplace Environment Directors wishing to ensure good air quality in the premises for which they are responsible;
  • and the operators who are entrusted with the management of the ventilation installations according to the quality of the indoor and outdoor air.

The demonstrator will consist of equipping the buildings with continuous sensors (CO2, VOC, T°, humidity, gaseous pollutants, fine particles) that are efficient and accessible in terms of cost, allowing the control of ventilation, the identification of sources of pollutants, information for occupants, better knowledge of the interaction between IAQ and QAE and the creation of an open database. Through interactive screens and/or mobile applications, the occupants will be able to give their feelings. This information will complement the sensors on the diagnosis as well as on the evaluation of the improvement.

Keywords: controlled ventilation, lower energy consumption, controlled IAQ, guaranteed comfort for occupants, centralization of data (open data).


Preselection of sensors for measurements in indoor and outdoor air (if relevant) and possibly at the level of the ventilation system (CTA, UTA, ducts, etc.) and organization of the sensors according to their purpose.

Testing of sensors by the AirParif laboratory (reproducibility, linearity, drift over time, etc.) to define the characteristics according to use (indicator, monitoring, control).

Deployment of selected sensors on a pilot building and comparison with standardized measurements. Development of tools and instructions according to usage (control of ventilation, threshold values ​​for alerts, frequency of maintenance of installations, etc.).

Development of communication tools with occupants to apply best practices (occupant awareness, eLearning QAI, etc.) and analysis of user feedback.

During this experiment, the data of the equipped buildings will be centralized (open data). An experiment could be launched at a later date aimed at other start-ups (hackathon type) to exploit the data according to the elements of context (typology of the building, activity, occupation, etc.)

Carrier of the project

Name of the organization : Veolia and Icade

Name of the contact : Joséphine Brune, Environmental Transitions Manager, Icade