Urgent Need for Healthy Spaces Driving Innovation

Christel Deskins

Global manufacturer and climate innovator Trane Technologies (NYSE: TT) recently announced the launch of its Center for Healthy and Efficient Spaces (CHES) to create what it says will be “safer, healthier, and more efficient environments for homes, buildings, and transportation around the globe.” Rasha Hasaneen, Trane Technologies’ Vice President of […]

Global manufacturer and climate innovator Trane Technologies (NYSE: TT) recently announced the launch of its Center for Healthy and Efficient Spaces (CHES) to create what it says will be “safer, healthier, and more efficient environments for homes, buildings, and transportation around the globe.” Rasha Hasaneen, Trane Technologies’ Vice President of Innovation and Product Excellence, is the center’s executive director, and in this interview with Rasha we explore the potential impact of the new Center.*

Why did Trane Technologies launch the CHES, and why now?

The global pandemic heightened sensitivity to the need for health and safety, and the overall quality of indoor environments. We launched CHES to focus on ensuring that homes, buildings, public transport and other spaces are using the latest innovations to become healthier and more sustainable than ever. We are responding to urgent and increasing needs for solutions that reduce pathogens, mold, gases and other contaminants in the air we breathe and on the surfaces we touch. Whether you’re at home, work, school, on a bus, or in a delivery vehicle, you want to be and feel safe.

How does Trane Technologies address the global need for healthier space options?

We are launching solutions around the world. For instance, we’ve launched our Ready for Now – Resilient for Tomorrow offerings in North America and are offering solutions like technologies for proper filtering and air exchange, UV light to eliminate pathogens, and more. We have also helped assess and enable office spaces and malls to reopen in places like India and Singapore, using a suite of air-cleaning solutions. We’re launching products in Europe and the Middle East that advance sustainable operations, like the Sintesis™ Balance CMAF – a fully electric single unit to heat and cool buildings. In the U.S., our teams have developed unique assessment, mitigation and funding solutions for K-12 schools. So yes, we are definitely considering the global need for healthier and more sustainable space options. And we are able to learn, adapt and evolve innovation across our various markets and regions.

How does Trane Technologies define healthier environments and more efficient technologies for people?

When we think about healthier environments, we consider all the elements within a specific indoor space that can bring well-being and health to an occupant. We think about how people move throughout their day and where they go – starting from their home, to their car or public transit, to an office building, shopping mall or school. People need and want to feel comfortable and safe and things like room temperature and humidity, lighting and noise control all affect that. There is a lot of science that also proves how a good and healthy indoor space has the potential to boost the performance and productivity of people.

Our ability to consider all the elements of an indoor environment holistically and leverage connected systems helps optimize the environmental quality and energy use. Each space is unique.

Who are the experts on your external advisory council? What do they bring to the picture?

The Advisory Council on Healthy Spaces is comprised of external global thought leaders and experts with diverse backgrounds associated with indoor environmental quality. Their perspective and expertise in areas like policy, science and architechture is critical in helping us respond to the market quickly and develop bold, innovative and sustainable solutions – especially where indoor air quality, human health, and sustainability of indoor environments intersect.

Are there additional financial costs for a “healthier” environment?

The first step is to assess the need. We take a holistic approach to ensuring that the solutions fit the purpose, traits and needs of a building or indoor space, and the people in it. In some cases, an assessment might show that minor adjustments can ensure the system is operating to design – in other cases, it may require a larger investment in a full retrofit, or an advanced innovation.

There are also cases where more individualized solutions can meet a specific need, but should always be considered broadly in the context of the indoor setting. One way or another, there will be an investment of some kind but the value and health is worth it. I think what makes us unique at Trane Technologies is that our innovations focus on ensuring healthy indoor air quality while also acheiving efficiency gains, which leads to longer-term financial benefits.

What types of technologies or innovation is the Center evaluating?

We see opportunity for innovation in three main buckets relative to indoor environmental quality: assessing indoor environments, mitigating or reducing risk, and then measuring and monitoring for ongoing maintenance and health. We’re identifying solutions that enhance our current capabilities across all our business units – commercial and residential HVAC and transportation. Most importantly – our solutions will be founded on scientific data and specific to the different needs found in homes, buildings and public transport.

CHES will go beyond indoor air quality to consider all the factors that impact indoor environments – including lighting, acoustics and optimal temperatures and humidity. We are providing holistic and environmentally sound solutions, and continuing to help customers and consumers reduce their environmental footprint. The center will take these outcomes to the next level by forming new partnerships, informing policies and standards, and accelerating innovation.

What about innovations for transportation?

We consider transportation another indoor space – whether it’s a car, bus or other public transit, or if the vehicle is used to transport goods. We are looking at delivering high-quality, healthy indoor environments across the spectrum.

Do you envision working in partnership with urban planners and policymakers to help achieve policy goals related to sustainable development?

The CHES will work side-by-side with Trane Technologies’ Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (CEES) to inform policy and standards that elevate indoor environmental quality. CEES is a council of global thought leaders in sustainability leadership, infrastructure development, energy policy, and technology that helps the company enact best practices in sustainability. Part of our work will be to educate and bring awareness of healthy and sustainable environment solutions to policymakers so they can make informed decisions and enact policy and standards based on science and data. We will also work hand-in-hand with our strategic brands to ensure we bring best in class solutions to our customers.

What are some outcomes you hope to see come out of the CHES in the short term and long term?

In the short term, we want to help educate and raise awareness of indoor environmental quality that goes beyond the pandemic. There is more that can be done to create healthy and productive environments and it will come with innovative collaboration and technologies. In the long term, we want to see healthy spaces become a natural part of how buildings and transport systems are designed and operated – how homes are built and used and how transport systems function – with sustainability, health and energy efficiency at the core.

* There is strong evidence from The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and other sources that HVAC technologies can mitigate the risk of exposure to infectious aerosols in built environments; however, the transmission and mitigation of COVID-19 in buildings is yet to be fully tested and confirmed.

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