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Pittsburgh International Airport testing air quality improvement technology

The airport will become the first US airport to deploy Honeywell’s Healthy Buildings dashboard and air quality sensing technology.

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Pittsburgh International Airport is partnering with Honeywell to test air quality improvement technology at the airport’s newly-opened innovation center, xBridge. The airport is the first in the country to deploy Honeywell’s Healthy Buildings dashboard and air quality sensing technology, the company said.

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The airport will also use Honeywell Forge enterprise performance management software to increase public health efforts and improve staff and passenger confidence in travel, according to the company.

The Honeywell Healthy Buildings dashboard at xBridge measures key indoor air quality (IAQ) parameters such as temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds, the company said.

A network of IAQ sensors connected to the Healthy Buildings dashboard provides real-time updates on the airport’s air quality performance to help the facilities staff quickly identify and correct critical building controls issues, Honeywell said. The dashboard integrates into the airport’s existing systems. Honeywell Forge software will be used to monitor and address maintenance issues with the airport’s air filters.

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Launched in 2020, xBridge is a 10,000 square foot innovation center at Pittsburgh International Airport that was “custom built to nurture the evolution of the aviation industry and inspire creative solutions to challenges,” according to a statement.

Based on the success of xBridge pilot systems, PIT may expand the technology throughout the airport. Working in tandem with companies on initiatives will be a key part of xBridge’s success. As the airport itself has become a testing ground for new technology, including robotics and AI, this innovation center will focus those efforts into a space custom-built for ideation, experimentation, and collaboration.

 Airports need to make improved air quality a goal

 “Working with companies like Honeywell through our xBridge innovation center allows us to not only test new technologies but also look for ways to solve bigger challenges that will improve the experience for our airline partners, staff and passengers,” said April Gasparri, senior vice president of public safety, operations, and maintenance for the airport, in a statement. “The emphasis on air quality has greatly increased due to COVID-19, and airports must look to adjust our facilities for the long term to create safer environments for travelers and the people who make travel happen every day.”

The Honeywell Healthy Buildings dashboard is designed to provide operational and passenger benefits at an airport and visualize information via a single screen. This will allow the Pittsburgh facilities staff to make real-time decisions based on air quality fluctuations, the company said.

For example, if increased occupancy creates higher carbon dioxide levels, the airport can immediately respond to improve social distancing or increase airflow to the HVAC system in a specific zone, according to Honeywell. In the future, travelers are expected to benefit by visually seeing the building health information in a user-friendly dashboard, the company said. 

Additionally, the airport plans to use Honeywell Forge to conduct condition-based maintenance focused on MERV 13 filters in its air-handling units. By monitoring particulate matter and volatile organic compounds using Honeywell’s dashboard, airport personnel will be able to identify filters that require changing based on need versus a maintenance schedule to avoid costly, unnecessary filter changes, Honeywell said.

Honeywell Forge aims to proactively analyze building controllers and mechanical assets and provide near real-time insights via intuitive dashboards to reduce unplanned reactive work on building systems.

Sixty-one percent of surveyed airport workers were particularly concerned about potential COVID-19 transmission through the air, according to a recent survey fielded by Honeywell. Further, 40% of surveyed airport workers identified outdated ventilation systems as a bigger safety threat than co-workers not following safety guidelines.

 “Airports face challenges managing indoor air quality such as outdoor pollutants from airside operations, varying occupancy density, and numerous zones with different heating and cooling demands. The team at Pittsburgh International Airport has an innovative mindset and is looking to identify ways to further improve its indoor air quality to solve these problems,” said Keith Fisher, vice president and general manager of services for Honeywell Building Technologies, in a statement.

 Honeywell’s Healthy Buildings software provides a holistic view of a building’s health based on key factors such as indoor air quality, occupant flow, PPE analytics, thermal screening, body temperature monitoring, social distancing, and sanitation efficacy, the company said.

The Honeywell survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 2,000 workers in buildings of over 500 workers in the US, UK, Germany, and the Middle East, between Nov. 19 and Dec. 1, 2020.

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