Prioritizing Customer & Employee Safety
The coronavirus pandemic has made employee and customer safety a priority for companies. Businesses have had to adjust their policies and workplace customs to accommodate new guidelines and ensure the well-being of employees and clients alike. Pioneer, a large regional bank in the greater New York Capital area, chose to pursue indoor air quality control options as a result of the pandemic. “We wanted to do everything we possibly could to not only make our customers safe, but to make our employees safe too,” said Pioneer Security and Facilities Administration Officer Neil Walsh.
Indoor air quality and its importance are not new. However, the pandemic has given the industry newfound value. COVID-19 has highlighted flaws within our daily lives and indoor spaces that, otherwise, would have continued to go largely overlooked. One of them being the role our heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems play in keeping us healthy.
The novel coronavirus has brought questions about the safety and quality of where we spend the majority of our time in a way few other things could. Rob Ambrosetti, certified indoor environmental consultant and Training Director at KGG Consulting, Inc. explained that, “HVAC systems can be utilized to manage risks associated with pathogens in a space.” The focus is now and should be on indoor air quality–which is why we think it’s essential to spotlight businesses that are choosing conscious sensible responses.
Though some businesses have been slow to choose a course of action, Pioneer Bank opted for a timely and reactive response. “Covid prompted the decision. Here at Pioneer, we are all about our employees. We figure if we put our employees first, everything else will fall into place,” Walsh said.
New Air Purification Systems
Pioneer installed roughly 40 Air Knight IPG air purification systems across 22 branch locations and at their headquarters. They chose air purification systems because they, “felt that it was probably one of the best things you could do as far as helping with air quality.” The Air Knight air purification units are able to reduce airborne viral and bacterial particles, like the novel coronavirus. Ambrosetti explains that the addition of an air purification system improves the air quality in existing systems. “When looking at air purifiers, it’s important to find one that’s been third-party tested and validated against COVID-19. There are so many devices on the market, that you want to be sure that the technology is proven and the Air Knight IPG technology is exactly that.”
The air purification units were installed in the early summer. Since the upgrade, Walsh said that they’ve been able to notice a difference and that the air seems fresher. In the couple of months that have passed, he described the lack of negative feedback as a good thing. “I have heard a few people say, especially here at the headquarters, that [the air] does seem fresher.”
What is the technical reasoning for the feeling of fresh air? “What he’s saying is there’s a noticeable tangible difference in the air quality. That’s how we always explain it,” Ambrosetti said. “Because there’s a lot of devices out there that get installed and you don’t know if they’re on or working. With the Air Knight IPG, there’s a noticeable difference in the air within hours.”
Investing in Human Health
Walsh noted that the upgrades were an investment. “If you’re going to spend a good chunk of money, you may as well do the best you can and get the best equipment possible.” Walsh, who has a construction background and a familiarity with equipment costs, explained that the single unit cost was reasonable. As a bigger company with multiple units at the headquarters and each branch location, the total price did add up. “To justify it budgetarily, we offset the cost by holding back on some construction projects … but in light of everything that’s happened this year, they may or may not have gotten done anyway,” Walsh said.
The decision to prioritize safety goes to the top of Pioneer’s executive team. “[The present CEO’s] number one thing is he wants to take care of us,” Walsh said. “If we’re happy, then customers are going to see that and will want to bank with us.”
While Pioneer’s decision to install whole-building air purification systems was motivated by COVID-19, the decision to upgrade will have long-term benefits as well. Even prior to COVID-19, Walsh said that the indoor air quality is an important concern to keep in mind. “You certainly don’t want other particles flying around in the air or anything that might come from paint or asbestos or mold or any of those kinds of things,” Walsh said. This will be true in a post-pandemic world as well–meaning changes made now in a time of need can and will have a lasting health effect.
Pioneer’s responsiveness in a time of uncertainty should serve as the model for other businesses. Choosing to invest in indoor air quality means choosing a proactive approach that addresses the pandemic head-on. As more information about airborne transmission emerges, it’s essential that businesses make indoor environmental changes for the safety of all.
For more information about indoor air quality products for home or business, contact KGG Consulting. We can help you get in touch with the best local IAQ expert.