Don’t Forget Your PEAS
As the world adapts to life during a pandemic, design professionals are intently focused on indoor air. We know the virus particles are airborne and can be transmitted efficiently, especially inside. But scientists tell us that air quality contributes to the severity of the disease. For instance, excessively dry or stagnant air increases the risk of viral transmission. Not all air is created equal.
We’re big on testing and experimenting at Centerbrook. Before the pandemic hit, Ben Mayne and Misha Semenov, members our Sustainability Committee, were monitoring CO2 levels at Ben’s desk with a sensor hooked up to his computer. When attention shifted to combatting the coronavirus, they researched existing designs, such as LMN Architects’ Post-Occupancy Data Devices and commercially available air quality monitors, while wondering, “can we build a better mousetrap”?
Enter the Portable Environmental Analysis System, or PEAS, whose clever moniker came from Kas Leiva. Composed of sensors that monitor temperature, humidity, dust, and C02, the PEAS calculates a virus score based on the levels of each. The data is displayed on the device itself in addition to being sent up to the cloud. Hugo Fenaux, who is decidedly aw-shucks about his contributions, engineered its hardware, power source, and display, which came from Adafruit, a New York City-based hardware manufacturer.
As they worked through the technology, the team refined the design of the case through several iterations before settling on a circular shape that exposes the sensors through clear perforated plastic. It is mobile, with a stand that attaches to the case with two magnets. No doubt we’ll keep tinkering with it until, like Goldilocks said, it is “just right".
In the meantime, we’re testing PEAS around the office in places where people congregate. One is on our kitchen counter, where a makeshift graph on the wall charts its readings during the day. Someday, we hope to deploy the PEAS outside the office in other projects, helping both building managers and designers to improve air quality in real-time.
Thank you to Misha, Hugo, Ben, and Kas for helping all Centerbrookians breathe a little easier. As for you, dear reader, look for more on the PEAS as testing and refinement continues.