"NEST offers startups a real-world environment that is equipped like a perfect laboratory"

  • The Zurich-based startup Oxygen at Work uses selected plant species to improve the air quality and energy efficiency of office buildings.
  • The company has already achieved first successful results and has optimized the indoor climate for various customers. Still, the aim is to improve their services continuously.
  • To validate and further develop new plant concepts in combination with new technologies, Oxygen at Work cooperates with NEST. Here, they can further improve energy efficiency and room comfort – in a real setting, but without the risk.

NEST gives startups the opportunity to validate and further develop their ideas and innovations. One of the latest NEST partners is Oxygen at Work. The Zurich-based startup uses the natural properties of plants in combination with new technologies to optimize the indoor climate in office buildings and reduce pollutants. This leads to a more pleasant and healthier working climate for the employees. At the same time, energy consumption is reduced, as the premises require less ventilation, cooling and humidification.

Environment as a service

Oxygen at Work's offer is based on a service model. Firstly, a basic analysis is made to define which plants should be placed in the office. For Manuel Winter, CEO of Oxygen at Work, it is essential to inspect the big picture: "To achieve a holistic optimization, various factors have to be considered. These include the ventilation system, sources of pollution such as printers, the number of people in the office and the office equipment".

After the analysis, the plants are delivered, positioned according to the concept and sensors are implemented. These measure different values to determine the air quality - including the CO2 content, humidity and the proportion of fine dust and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air. Customers can view the values in a dashboard and receive recommendations for optimizing heating, ventilation and cooling.

The implementation at previous customers has shown that Oxygen at Work's concept works. The humidity in the office rooms has been improved by an average of 10-15 percentage points and pollutants have been reduced by 5-10%. In addition, an average energy saving of 30 - 40% could be achieved.

A real development

For Manuel Winter, however, it is evident that this is just the beginning: "We want to further optimize our offer and maximize the effect that we can achieve with the plants and our technologies."

But further development means that you have to try out new things. This is difficult or even impossible in the marketplace because untested products and concepts cannot simply be implemented at the customer's site. This is where NEST enters the picture. "There are different environments for startups to test their ideas. However, most of them are laboratories, which offer ideal but not real conditions. This is where I see great potential in NEST. On the one hand, it offers startups a real environment, because people actually live and work in NEST. On the other hand, NEST offers the equipment of a perfect laboratory in which ideas can be tested without risk", says Manuel Winter.

The real-world conditions make it possible to draw out important findings for the further development of new products – because what should work on the market must work in reality.

Plants for NEST

Oxygen at Work will hence use NEST as a platform from spring 2020 on. New plant types and technologies will be tested in the Meet2Create unit. First, the exact effects of different plants in a room will be analyzed to create a directory. In this way, Oxygen at Work aims to optimally match the plant combinations to the respective office space. In a second step, the measured values will be used to improve the indoor climate and energy efficiency by implementing and testing various technological additions.

"For the optimization, we use the measured values collected by us as well as data from NEST, which are made available to us. This gives us a holistic picture and allows us to develop our ideas efficiently," says Manuel Winter. In addition, he sees the partner network as a great advantage: "NEST gives us the opportunity to position ourselves in the industry and get in contact with important players on the market."

Next year, the insights that Oxygen at Work will be able to extract from its collaboration with NEST will become apparent. For Manuel Winter, however, it is already certain that NEST is the ideal place for Oxygen at Work to optimize their offer.

About Oxygen at Work

Oxygen at Work wants to design workplaces that both increase physical and psychological well-being and, at the same time, reduce emissions in and from office buildings. Further information here.