“We look towards a future in which we not only cultivate healthy spaces for humans, but also contribute to the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere, joining many others in an effort to limit the effects of climate change.”-Susan Blanchet
2023 WE Empower Finalist, Europe and North America
Susan Blanchet and Origen Air’s mission is to restore and protect our most important resource, the air we breathe, something that stems from something very personal to Blanchet’s history, watching her father suffer from dementia triggered by breathing indoor air toxins in his work environment. Susan worked as a lawyer for 14 years, specializing in contaminated sites and climate change, before she left to start her own business, Origen Air™. Origen Air™ offers nature-based solutions for removing man-made toxins from indoor air at an exceptional rate. Her company produces indoor air purifiers that incorporate HEPA filtration with Origen Air’s “Super Plants,” genetically enhanced to metabolize volatile organic compounds - like human carcinogen benzene and irritant chloroform- more efficiently than regular plants (82-100x more effectively in lab studies).
The Pinnacle™ - Designed to Enhance Indoors
Their “Pinnacle™” product is designed to clean indoor air by removing carbon dioxide and volatile compounds from its surroundings and circulating out fresher, clean air. Origen Air™ provides measurability and accountability to their clients as well, so all exiting air is measured, and the quality is reported by sensors. Air first passes through HEPA filters and then heads to the main chamber, which contains genetically enhanced plants. These plants are engineered with a mammalian liver enzyme and, as a result, are able to process man-made toxins more efficiently than regular plants (up to 82-100x in lab studies). About her product, Blanchet says, “Origen Air’s biophilic air purification systems address the shortcomings of current air filtration systems that fail to reduce harmful levels of indoor volatile organic compounds (associated with long-term diseases like pulmonary disease or even cancer) .” The whole system acts as a natural air purification system.
Quality Air for Quality of Life
Why are effective air purification systems so important? Traditional air purifiers struggle to properly filter volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which cause allergies, eye and throat irritation, aggravated asthma symptoms, and sometimes even cancer. Origen Air’s technology, however, addresses these particles. “[It] eliminates toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM), which are linked to long-term health risks to building occupants,” Blanchet shares. In this way, her company upholds SDG 3, Good Health and Well-Being. Origen Air™ mitigates the urban population’s constant exposure to poor-quality air, which can reduce quality of life and work productivity. By providing people with clean air in their workspace, they give them a respite from the air pollution filling their lungs.
Vision for a Sustainable
Future Origen Air™ also works to support SDG 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities. The ultimate goal of the company, Blanchet shares, is to use her products to help mitigate climate change and create more sustainable buildings and cities. She talks about how COVID caused greenhouse gas emissions in buildings to double as many companies turned up heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). However, this takes large amounts of energy. Blanchet’s goal is to build a biosphere with the Super Plants integrated into HVAC systems on the roof of every building, where the air is recirculated and filtrated, reducing the need to heat/cool new air. This innovative approach could create more sustainable, healthier and more energy-efficient buildings. If companies were to instead use Blanchet’s product, they could purify and circulate air while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. Blanchet says, “We envision a safer future for human beings through the creation of healthier and cleaner indoor environments by providing sustainable air purification solutions that effectively remove harmful pollutants and particles from the air. We imagine a future where a network of our genetically engineered plants contribute towards sustainable cities by increasing the number of healthy buildings.”
Susan was named Gold Stevie Winner for the category Women in Business Thought Leader of the Year - Business Products
By Samantha Chapman, WE Empower Intern