Can Indoor Air Quality Sensors Keep Offices Safe?

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, an architecture and design firm in New York City installed indoor air sensors during the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2023, the smoke from the wildfires hung over Manhattan:

But inside the office, cool air rippled from the vents running along the ceiling, and large screens reassured employees: “Indoor Air Quality is Very Good.”

S.O.M.’s air quality system is custom with a price tag of $150,000 with notifications to alert the building manager:

When S.O.M. saw the air quality trending in the wrong direction, it notified the building manager, who changed the system settings to reduce the amount of polluted air it was drawing in from outside and instead recirculate more indoor air. “We could call attention to that and make a change,” Mr. Cooper said. The particulate matter levels dropped.

And employees are happy to know the air around their desk is clean:

When the new office opened in 2021, Amy Garlock, an architect at S.O.M., was nervous about returning. Whenever she got a cup of coffee, she checked the air-quality dashboard by the office pantry. “It was always good,” she said. “That made me feel better about the place that I was working in.” She added, “It’s nice to have evidence of invisible things.”

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