Leading Edge Technology Companies in Scotland to Measure Carbon Dioxide During Edinburgh Festival

TWO companies producing leading edge technology in Scotland have joined forces with environmental artists to measure CO2 during the Edinburgh Festival.

The project, called Spirit in the Air: CO2 Edenburgh, aims to fuel debate on how art can change the political and social climate and how the arts sector can cut its own greenhouse gas emissions.

It is led by renowned international environmental artists Tim Collins, Reiko Goto and Chris Malcolm who will use Scottish technology to measure how much CO2 is generated as audiences pack into theatres and galleries and traffic clogs the city’s streets during the Festival period.

Festival-goers will encounter two uniformed “Carbon Catchers” roving the Scottish capital with state-of the-art detectors to find carbon hotspots. Monitoring stations will be set up in venues such as The Lyceum and the National Galleries and parks like Princes Street Gardens and Arthur’s Seat.

Spirit in the Air: CO2 Edenburgh will be based at the Tent Gallery, in Edinburgh College of Art, where the artists will gather real-time data streaming in from across the city to their studio-lab. Mini computers will use LED displays and sound synthesis to express the data and reveal how it changes through the days and weeks.

Glasgow-based Gas Sensing Solutions is providing Spirit in the Air: CO2 Edenburgh with its revolutionary CO2 detectors which use solid state technology to make them small, efficient portable and ultra low-energy.


Envirologger Ltd, with offices in Tewkesbury and design and manufacturing in Dundee and Cumbernauld, is supplying the wireless data collection and management system which allows the artists to simultaneously receive data in real-time from the sensors across the city.

Ben Twist, Director of Creative Carbon Scotland which is co-producing Spirit in the Air, said: “It’s tremendous to see Scotland’s arts, science and technology sectors taking a lead by coming together at the Edinburgh Festival to vividly demonstrate how human behaviour is damaging the environment.

“Spirit in the Air is only possible because of the advanced technology available from Gas Sensing Solutions and Envirologger. Companies like these are transforming our ability to monitor CO2 emissions. The festival is a superb opportunity to encourage debate on how artists, arts organisations and the public can reduce their emissions and make a more sustainable Scotland. It’s also a chance to discuss the ways in which the arts and science can collaborate to take messages about climate change to a wider audience.”

CO2 monitoring might also have benefits for performers and venues which wonder why audiences sometimes doze off even during the best quality shows.

Alan Henderson, Director of Glasgow-based Gas Sensing Solutions which is providing Spirit in the Air with its revolutionary new portable CO2 detectors, said: “This is an excellent project and shows how technology companies can work with the arts to combat climate change.

“There are other potential benefits too. When audiences start to yawn and nod off, it’s not that they are bored, but because the CO2 levels are too high. If theatres monitor the levels they can stop it happening – and they can also save around 25% on their energy bills, which is good for the environment and saves money.”

Tiredness brought on by high CO2 levels can be a problem in offices, classrooms, lecture theatres and even cars. Connecting the monitors to on-demand ventilation systems can keep people mentally alert, reduce heating bills and thereby reduce emissions.

A major challenge for the project is to get the data to the Tent Gallery in real-time from all over the city. This has been solved using Envirologger’s wireless technology. Each sensor will be connected to an Envirologger wireless node which, in this application, will transmit the data via licence-free radio to a central gateway/transceiver that will feed the data to a ‘cloud’ server which, in turn, will transmit live CO2 readings to the environmental artists.

Jim Mills, Managing Director of Envirologger, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this project because it will help to raise awareness about both indoor and outdoor air quality.

“The Envirologger technology was developed to radically improve the availability and accessibility of monitoring data. All of our customers have one thing in common – they need quick, low cost, easy access to their data. For many, this means a web page on their PC, iPad or Smartphone, but in this project it will be music to the ears of Fringe visitors.”

Both companies are supplying equipment to Spirit in the Air for free.

The artists believe that partnerships with science and technology provide a powerful way to show people how their behaviour raises CO2 levels.

Tim said: “Art can start debate and this is what we aim to do by using the latest scientific tools to reveal the source and form of CO2. We will be trying to see the environment, and present it to people, in a new way – like one of the early experiments by the Impressionists and Futurists.”

Spirit in the Air is part of the Edinburgh Art Festival. It opens on 2 August and takes place daily from noon to 5pm at the Tent Gallery on Westport, Edinburgh EH3 9DF.

May 2013 saw a significant change when CO2 levels in the atmosphere breached the 400 parts per million (ppm) mark for the first time. Until recent times the levels had been relatively consistent at around 280ppm for the previous 10,000 years.

  • Spirit in the Sky has been made possible thanks to support from:

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