On a polluted day, the murky gray air outside usually gets the most attention. More dangerous, however, can be the air inside, if only because we never consider it. That’s why one air quality management company decided to see which co-working spaces in Shanghai have the best air.

On Dec 1, 2016, two co-working spaces, Distrii and Agora Space, were awarded for the best air quality in the Pureformance Challenge. Organized by Gams, the Challenge monitored ten co-working spaces over a period of two weeks. Finalists included Agora Space, CREATER SPACE, Distrii, naked Hub, People Squared, PSA Group, PTL Group, Swiss Center Shanghai, Tech Work, and We+.

Agora Space is actually located underground, presenting a unique challenge for keeping the air clean. They use three DIY filters made by Smart Air Filters and one Xiaomi filter to ensure clean air for their residents.

“People think indoor quality doesn’t matter, but that’s not true. We spend about 90% of our day inside,” Noah Willingham, Smart Air head of South China, told TechNode.

Smart Air Filters is a Beijing-based social enterprise that makes two models of air purifier, both at an affordable price of 200 RMB (29 USD) and 471 RMB (69 USD). With the revenue generated from the sale of the filters, the company holds free workshops for companies and schools in China. Smart Air Filters wants to raise awareness of indoor air quality and encourage people to build their own DIY air filter.

“Inside air quality is about the half PM2.5 of outside,” Mr. Willingham says.

WHO’s guideline for indoor air quality is 10 μg/m3 annual mean and 25 μg/m3 24-hour mean. According to Greenpeace air quality rankings of China’s major startup cities, Beijing ranked 27 with 80.4µg/m3, Shanghai ranked 144 with 53.9µg/m3, Guangzhou ranked 261 with 38.8µg/m3, and Shenzhen ranked 320 with 29.9µg/m3. Calculating the indoor air quality of each cities, Beijing and Shanghai need further air cleaning solutions to keep up to WHO’s guidelines.

To raise awareness of air quality, Gams started the Pureformance Challenge in 2015.

“Good indoor air quality can help improve productivity and creativity in the workspace. Providing best environment for young people is very important,” Stefan Berder, CEO of Gams told TechNode. “Unlike outdoor air quality, there are solutions to help improve indoor air quality and I feel that everybody should have them.”

Gams Air Monitoring System (Image Credit: Eva Yoo)

The company does not provide the solution themselves; rather they partner with the air quality solution providers in the market, such as AtmosAir Asia, PureLiving China, Reset, and Giga.

“We are not selling the solution. We want companies to trust our measurement, and that’s why we don’t provide solution ourselves,” Mr. Berder says.

Image Credit: Distrii

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com