Syracuse teams with Honeywell to advance air quality research

The university's College of Engineering and Computer Science will be studying technologies that can create more healthy and more productive working environments.
By: | March 1, 2021
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Ventilation and indoor air quality have become hot topics during the COVID-19 pandemic as schools, institutions and businesses have reopened and are working to provide safer environments for those they serve.

Beyond the obvious benefits such as improved breathing and fewer airborne pollutants, improved ventilation can have a number of other perks, including increased productivity among students and workers, energy savings and potentially higher building values.

Seizing on an opportunity to further improve advances in the field, Syracuse University has launched a partnership with Honeywell to develop research on new indoor air quality technologies that might show just how impactful new technologies can be.

“This is a fantastic partnership, and we’re excited to work with Honeywell on indoor air quality research that benefits people all over the world,” said J. Cole Smith, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

The College of Engineering and Computer Science will be leading this initiative at its new Honeywell Indoor Air Quality Laboratory and seeking to learn how impactful ventilation is in boosting “creativity and productivity” and most crucially, fostering cleaner workspaces.

“Indoor air quality isn’t a buzz word – it’s a critical factor in creating safer, healthier building environments,” said Manish Sharma, vice president and chief technology and product officer, Honeywell Building Technologies. “Our work with Syracuse will measure the performance of a variety of emerging indoor air quality technologies to not only improve occupant productivity and well-being but also help building owners understand the best solutions for different building environments and situations.”

Researchers note they will be performing tests of the latest indoor air quality technologies to determine which are most effective in buildings based on how well specific sensors react to environments via HVAC controls that are driven by artificial intelligence. In turn, their results will be able to provide institutions and companies with better data about which technologies should be utilized in different environments to maximize air quality efficiency.

Ultimately, the hopes are to lessen sick days among employees, keeping them healthy and productive. The Environmental Protection Agency has noted that contaminants can be 2-5 times higher indoors than outdoors.

“People typically spend 80-90% of their times indoors, and occupant exposure to the various gas, particulate and biological contaminants found indoors has tremendous impacts on human health, productivity and creativity,” said Jensen Zhang, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Syracuse University and a leader in air quality research. “The Honeywell and Syracuse collaboration will lead to energy-efficient and cost-effective approaches and technologies to improving indoor environmental quality and reducing the risk of infectious disease transmission, as we look to improve social, economic and environmental conditions.”

There are far more considerations that go into healthy building environments than simply rotating out and utilizing high-quality filters in HVAC systems. Comfortable humidity and temperature, the exchanges of air and chemicals in it along with technologies that can sense how busy a space is through sensors – and whether or not social distancing can occur – are other critical must-haves for healthy spaces in 2021.

Honeywell’s Healthy Buildings solutions can work in all types of commercial buildings and even those that serve campuses, such as stadiums and healthcare facilities. The technologies not only can keep those environments safer and cleaner but also can be targeted to serve buildings with higher of lower densities of foot traffic and at different times of the day.

The partnership with Syracuse hopes to raise the bar even higher on improving in all environments.

“When private industry and academia team up, we can create meaningful change,” said Suresh Venkatarayalu, chief technology officer at Honeywell.