Earlier this year, Trane introduced its Wellsphere initiative to help building owners optimize their buildings and create an environment of well-being for occupants. PM Engineer had the chance to interview Scott Huffmaster, sales leader — healthy spaces for Trane, about Wellsphere — what it is, how it works and how it benefits building owners.
PM Engineer: First off, tell me a little about yourself and your background in the industry?
SH: As the healthy building solutions sales leader at Trane Technologies, I am responsible for leading Trane’s indoor environmental quality (IEQ) efforts for the United States and Canada. I’m also a part of Trane’s Wellsphere initiative.
As an engineer, I use my expertise to spearhead campaigns that promote IEQ. I help customers design customized spaces that align with Trane’s strategic mission to create healthier indoor spaces and lower the energy intensity of buildings.
PM Engineer: What exactly is Wellsphere?
SH: Wellsphere is an approach by Trane that cultivates healthier indoor spaces holistically by enhancing air quality, lighting and acoustics. Trane assembled experts in air quality, thermal comfort, lighting and acoustics to help operators assess and improve a building’s health, ultimately improving the comfort and wellness of the building’s occupants. Match that with Trane’s innovative portfolio of technologies, solutions and services, and building owners can create environments that people feel comfortable and confident to be in, whether at school, work, dining or shopping.
PM Engineer: How does it work?
SH: Wellsphere leverages Trane’s engineers, technicians and account professionals who draw on decades of industry leadership to help building owners and operators make the right indoor environmental decisions and investments for their spaces.
Experts from many different disciplines, including air quality, thermal comfort, lighting and acoustics, work with building owners to create an individualized, well-rounded solution that addresses the overall health and wellness of the people who use the building.
We also have experts on hand who can address the specific needs of different types of buildings — schools, restaurants, retail shops, movie theaters, hotels and resorts, large office buildings and many others. Grounded in decades of experience, Trane can suggest best practices for these specific spaces based on who the occupants are and the building’s use.
Not to be forgotten, the Trane team works closely with our customers to understand our customer’s key performance metrics. This allows Trane to develop balanced solutions that will help optimize budget, building health and energy costs while not losing site of the customer’s needs.
PM Engineer: What are the benefits of using Wellsphere?
SH: The program helps building owners cultivate healthier indoor spaces while balancing energy efficiency and sustainability with business realities. Trane experts help building owners:
Mitigate health risks by improving indoor environment quality while also maintaining or improving energy efficiency and overall sustainability;
Assess indoor air quality using a four-step process to dilute, exhaust, contain and clean;
Evaluate a range of technologies to determine which one fits their needs, whether HVAC systems, GUV lighting, surface cleaning technologies or a combination thereof;
Determine how to implement technologies without triggering unwanted outcomes such as increased noise that can disrupt learning and working; and
Create comfortable environments using the right mix of air temperature, air speed and humidity, while also balancing building health, efficiency and sustainability.
PM Engineer: Why has Trane decided to bring Wellsphere to the forefront now?
SH: The global pandemic has changed people’s view of buildings and commercial spaces. Whether they are entering a restaurant, store or school, that person is thinking, “Am I safe?”
Building owners are facing challenges that they have never faced before. Many are overwhelmed by all the decisions they need to make — and the cost implications of their choices. We asked ourselves, “how can we help build the case to confidently bring people back to buildings?” And from that, Wellsphere was born.
Trane’s mission with Wellsphere is to empower and support owners to improve their buildings’ indoor atmosphere, communicate those improvements to the occupants and ultimately make their spaces more marketable to the public.
PM Engineer: What type of markets would best be served with the Wellsphere approach?
SH: The beauty of working with Trane is that we work with owners and operators of all kinds of buildings. We know there isn’t one approach that works for every building. Each building has different needs based on who uses them, how many occupants it has and its energy profile.
We are receiving inquiries from schools and universities that look to understand how best to execute upon federal stimulus funding, to hospitals and long-term acute care facilities in need of strategies to make their facilities safer and more flexible in the face of a global pandemic. We are working with national hospitality and restaurant chains that are looking for ways to differentiate themselves to attract customers back to their businesses. We’ve also seen considerable interest from larger national employers looking for ways to strengthen their brands in the face of this crisis and differentiate themselves in the competitive market for high value talent.
Wellsphere provides an individualized, holistic solution for each business owner that addresses their building’s health and the wellness of their occupants. We’ve worked with all types of buildings and sizes, from schools to restaurants and retail shops, to large office buildings and public venues. We draw on that experience as we create each custom plan.
PM Engineer: Why is IEQ so important today?
SH: Right now, people feel safer breathing outside than they do inside. After the 2020 shutdowns, people are wary and cautious. Meanwhile, the livelihood of building owners is dependent on whether people are willing to come back indoors. Taking measures to improve IEQ and communicating these improvements to building occupants is an essential step on that journey back indoors.
Everyone wants kids back in school, to enjoy a dinner out with the family or take a break to see a movie. IEQ is essential to getting us all back to a “new normal” where we can feel comfortable indoors.
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