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Pioneering technology rolls out to track the Australian indoor climate

21 June 2016
An Australian innovation to deliver healthier indoor workplaces.

The University of Sydney’s IEQ (Indoor Environmental Quality) lab, in partnership with several major corporations, is rolling out ground-breaking technology that will track the indoor climate in the largest survey of Australian workplaces.

SAMBA (Sentient Ambient Monitoring of Buildings in Australia), the pioneering technology developed by the University of Sydney rolls out to track the Australian indoor climate of workplaces.

Today we spend more than 90 per cent of our lives indoors, so monitoring our indoor climate is possibly more important than monitoring the outdoor climate, says researcher and world expert on indoor air quality Professor Richard de Dear.

“Many of us now spend our working lives almost exclusively inside office buildings. We therefore need to be better managing indoor environmental factors for the sake of human health and wellbeing long term.

Research shows the considerable impact that IEQ factors can have on productivity in the work place and building sustainability.
Professor Richard de Dear

However, one of the biggest challenges for organisations is understanding the complex science of IEQ,” said Professor Richard de Dear, Director of the IEQ Lab in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney.

According to Professor de Dear, no-one has been able to capture holistic IEQ data with one piece of technology and make sense of the science, until now. The prototype for the world-leading technology called SAMBA (Sentient Ambient Monitoring of Buildings in Australia) was developed by University of Sydney PhD student Tom Parkinson and his brother and research assistant Alex Parkinson, under the leadership of Professor de Dear early last year.

Hundreds of SAMBA units are now in production and will be set up in around 50 offices across Australian capital citiesover the next three months.

Built on revolutionary sensor technology, the compact, low-cost SAMBA devices are placed on work-stations a couple of metres apart across an office floor, from where all the vital IEQ factors are tracked. In all, it measures around a dozen different parameters: air temperature, radiant heat, air movement, humidity, light, sound, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, along with various pollutants emitted from building materials.

Data captured by SAMBA is wirelessly relayed in real-time to the University of Sydney’s IEQ lab. The data is immediately analysed and interpreted by the lab’s IEQ analytics software against IEQ performance standards set by Green Star and NABERS rating systems.

What is SAMBA?

Professor Richard de Dear explains how this pioneering technology works to deliver healthier indoor workplaces.

Several organisations from Australia’s property, banking and building industries will take part in the first rollout of SAMBA in Australia this winter. One of the first organisations to sign up for the pioneering technology is Investa Property Group.

Investa’s General Manager of Environment and Safety, Shaun Condon said: “This new technology offers an effective and user-friendly method of collecting accurate IEQ metrics and data that doesn’t require any major modifications to our building systems.

“It will give us the evidence to pinpoint what IEQ data is important and how to best capture, analyse and effectively report this information back to our tenants to improve their workplace environments,” he said.

The huge volume of data collected by SAMBA will give building owners, operators and tenants timely and intelligible reports on their building’s IEQ performance. The IEQ metrics will, for the first time, provide rich intelligence about the indoor climate of Australian workplaces and the impact of high rises on a city’s carbon footprint.

“It will quickly become the world’s largest instrumental database on the climate of the indoor work environment. The intelligence SAMBA will give us and our partner organisations provides the perfect opportunity to reset the barometer for healthy and productive workplaces inside buildings,” said Professor Richard de Dear.