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How Boston Properties is cleaning office air

The largest listed developer in the US has chosen a tech partner to monitor indoor air quality in real-time across its portfolio.

As part of Boston Properties’ healthy building strategy, Senseware will install sensors in air ducts, measuring metrics such as CO2 and fine particulate matter.

Air quality has become a priority for landlords in recent years, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The science is clear that better indoor air quality mitigates infectious disease transmission, improves cognitive performance and contributes to the wellbeing of building occupants,” Ben Myers, vice president of sustainability at Boston Properties, said.

The developer said it selected Senseware’s IoT platform after a “thorough request for proposals process”.

How it works


Senseware provides both the hardware – the sensors – and the software for monitoring a building’s performance.

The company has a range of devices that capture mechanical, electrical, environmental and plumbing data, with users able to choose what they specifically need.

These devices can also work with existing equipment, such as sensors or meters, and with existing infrastructure.

Sensor data then gets fed into Senseware’s software, which shows users real-time analytics and allows them to configure any settings remotely.

At Boston Properties, Myers said: “The added capability of real-time indoor air quality monitoring from Senseware is an extension of our commitment to the integration of healthy building best practices and technologies that support operational excellence.”

Health security is ‘top priority’

In 2020, Boston Properties created a health security task force in response to the pandemic, calling the health of its customers and employees the company’s top priority.

Among its goals was to provide outside air when and where possible, to perform comprehensive air quality testing inspections and to use CO2 and occupancy monitoring to provide ventilation based on office demand.

The developer is still recovering from a downturn in activity throughout the pandemic. Although Boston Properties recorded a 55% increase in leases in Q4 2021, year-on-year, occupancy across its portfolio fell slightly from 90.1% to 88.8%. The company’s share price is still 24% below its February 2020 high.

What other options are out there?

Real estate’s demand for better indoor air quality has driven many in proptech to tackle the challenge.

Equiem SMART Image For Placetech

Like Senseware, Equiem‘s Smart platform works with users to identify their needs and then supply sensors and dashboards to monitor and respond to air quality data. Users can manage floors, single buildings and entire portfolios from Equiem’s dashboard.

Others focus more on providing software. Smart Spaces’ digital twin product integrates with any sensors in a building, giving users control over whatever devices they might have already installed.

As CEO Dan Drogman told PlaceTech in a demo of the product: “As you can imagine, in this building there’s probably around 25 different systems that we’re integrated with. That’s the core of our product: bringing all the disparate datasets back into a single pane of glass.”

Recently at the CES 2022 tradeshow, several companies announced new air quality products.

Airthings debuted a pollution monitor (View Pollution), which measures PM 1.0 and 2.5 particulate matter, and a radon monitor (View Radon). Although these are targeted at residential users, Airthings also has products for businesses, including the View Plus, which measures everything from CO2 to particulate matter, noise, virus risk and light.

Disruptive Technologies, the creators of the world’s smallest commercial-grade wireless sensors, launched a wireless CO2 sensor at CES 2022 (along with a passive infrared sensor to monitor occupancy patterns).

The “peel and stick” sensors monitor CO2, temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. Measurements update every five minutes and are relayed to the company’s Studio web app. Alternatively, users can export data and use it with other software.

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