Udi Meirav on enVerid's commercial scale-up
After winning the AHR Product of the Year Award in January for its HVAC Load Reduction (HLR) technology, enVerid is moving forward with plans for a “commercial scale-up.” The Boston-based company recently hired a new CEO in Christian Weeks (formerly of the demand response company, EnerNOC, Inc.) to help with expansion while the company’s founder Udi Meirav will stay on as president and oversee enVerid’s vision to disrupt the indoor air quality industry.
“We’ve spent a long time trying to not only develop the technology but to also show the world how to use it and what the benefits are. It’s been a long road,” says Meirav. “But we’ve reached a point now where we feel we are at the inflection point, where the market is really excited about the product, and more and more people want to use it. And we need to gear up for what we anticipate is going to be a very steep wholesale.”
Here, Meirav discusses the future of indoor air quality and how advances in technology will one day change our ideas about “fresh air.”
Coming from being a small startup to being named Product of the Year, what was the significance of that win for the enVerid team? For us it’s of exponential significance. Not just because it makes you feel good. If you look at this technology, it’s novel, it’s innovative, which sounds great. But that means that it takes a long time to get buy-in and support from the marketplace. So for us to have ASHRAE come in and say that it is the best product of year, it is enormously impactful and official. It helps us with the single most important agenda item for our company, and that agenda is to convince, to evangelize and show the world that this is a good idea. So for us this was really fantastic. You have a Ph.D. in physics from MIT. How did that equate to developing technology that improves indoor air quality? Physics is sort of a broad skillset that teaches you how to think about the world. The reality is, if you have that broad skillset to think about problems, sometimes it is better an outsider with tools than to have prior knowledge so you can think in a new way about how to solve problems that have existed for a long time. When I first realized the way central air conditioning systems manage air quality by replacing the air in building with air from the outside, that struck me as not a very good way to do this. It’s essentially the same as trying to air condition your house with the windows open. So that was kind of the starting point of how we created the HLR solution. Let’s talk doomsday scenario: Can you foresee a future where the air inside 10 times better than the “fresh air” outside? I think we are already there. Not everywhere, and not all the time, but there are many places where at least some of the time you are in that situation. So I don’t know if I would call it doomsday. So in reality, that’s just modern day. It is modern. Listen, man has been, since the dawn of time, wanting to shield itself from the outside environment and to create a new protected environment. First, we want to keep out the rain. Then we want to keep out the wind. And then we want to keep out the cold or the humidity. So we are gradually getting more assertive about creating a bubble around us, which is in many ways different from the outside and better for us as an environment. There is nothing wrong with that. We’ve always had this idea that outside air, “fresh air” was better than indoor air. At least from a freshness standpoint, that’s a misconception. Essentially, what you are saying is to throw the idea of fresh air out the window. Pun intended. But the good news is, we can address that. We have technology that can deliver good indoor air quality. And look, with or without indoor air quality issues, people spend 90 percent of their time indoors. So what really matters is what kind of air we are breathing in that 90 percent of time. Not the other 10 percent. Ideally you’d have great outside air and indoor air. But if you’re going to fix one of them first, you really want to fix indoor air because that’s where we spend most of our time.
For more information about enVerid’s HVAC Load Reduction technology, visit enverid.com.