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June 1, 2021

A breath of fresh air: how smart building software can address health concerns during COVID

Among the many things we didn’t worry about a year and a half ago was the quality of the air in the malls where we shopped and offices where we worked. But as the third wave of COVID-19 finally begins to ebb across the province, indoor air quality through proper ventilation is suddenly top of mind, and building managers are increasingly looking at solutions from Canadian technology companies.

“The global spread of COVID-19 certainly has heightened awareness of the pressing importance of building-occupant health and safety, specifically within closed retail shopping centres,” says Gregory Pheiffer, an operations manager at Cushman & Wakefield.

The property management company had engaged Burlington-based startup Feedback Solutions in late 2019 to deploy its people-tracking software system at Devonshire Mall in Windsor as well as Peterborough’s Lansdowne Place. The effort was part of an initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). The pandemic shifted priorities, but not the Feedback Solutions pilot project. And that points to how addressing health and safety concerns can also help tackle the climate crisis.

Feedback Solutions’ software manages data from an array of people-counting sensors and works in tandem with technology that monitors indoor air quality by tracking humidity, particulate matter and the presence of volatile organic compounds. That information feeds into an automated system that constantly adjusts the HVAC fans according to the number of people in the space and the quality of air. This system helps ensure healthy air quality while controlling energy costs — a welcome benefit for retailers given the challenging year they’ve had.

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