“Even at the Empire State Building, down to the observatory, we have MERV 13 filters,” Anthony Malkin, chief executive of Empire State Realty Trust, said in a June 9 interview with CNBC. “We have AtmosAir, proven to remove 99.92% of the Covid virus from the air.”
MERV 13 air filters are high-efficiency. AtmosAir is an indoor system that uses energized ions capable of “seeking and destroying” viruses, germs and other pollutants, as described by Steve Levine, chief executive of AtmosAir Solutions, a company based in Fairfield, Conn.
“This is not a replacement for hand-washing, cleaning surfaces or changing air filters,” Levine said. “But it is one more layer of protection.”
Guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend companies open the windows in their offices to increase circulation. For many Manhattan skyscrapers, that is not an option.
As hundreds of thousands of workers prepare to return to the office, air quality could be a major problem. A 2017 study in Europe found offices had typically lower air quality than did airplanes.
“Not in Tower 45,” said Steven Levy, principal of Kamber Management, when told of the research. His company was one of the first in the city to adopt AtmosAir’s technology, installing it throughout the 40-story Midtown Tower 45 building in 2016.
Levy was convinced by a Gensler study at the time that found workers were more productive and called in sick less often when workplace air quality improved.
The machine cost Kamber $4,000 per floor to install. The investment already has proved worthwhile, in Levy’s view, as companies are now conscious of air quality in their work environment.
“Tenants are increasingly going to demand this,” he said.
George Comfort and Sons, a landlord with office properties in Manhattan, said it has installed new air filters and would increase the intake of fresh air to its buildings in a note last week to Fairfield County tenants—who are returning to work sooner than in the city. President and CEO Peter Duncan said the company is studying how to improve air quality throughout its portfolio.