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Throughout Wisconsin, seats are still empty. Offices, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, tourist locations and more have all felt the lingering effects of a pandemic more than one year in the making. Nearly all industries have experienced an unprecedented culture shift to virtual and remote work, and most households with K-12 students have become all too familiar with distance learning.
As the country works to return to “normal” this summer, many commercial building managers and homeowners have begun to prioritize creating healthier buildings by improving indoor air quality (IAQ).
Introducing Breathe Easy Wisconsin
SMART Local 18 and SMACNA Wisconsin are excited to announce the launch of Breathe Easy Wisconsin. This labor-management cooperative — which originated as Breathe Easy Illinois and has since expanded — features today’s most advanced solutions designed to help improve IAQ for all Wisconsinites now and beyond the pandemic.
“One of our mechanical contractors said it best — your HVAC system is the face mask of your building, and that’s the perfect way to describe it,” said Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ Association Executive Director Jonathan Kowalski. “By partnering with union labor and SMART Local 18, we know we’re bringing the best trained, most safety conscious and most technologically current workforce to every jobsite. Had it not been for the Local 18 leadership and their desire to capture more work and create better environments for the people of Wisconsin, the association would never have been able to do this program on its own.”
Nearly 60 preferred contractors make up the Breathe Easy Wisconsin network. These trained HVAC professionals are among the most knowledgeable in the industry on issues relating to humidity control, filtration, ventilation verification and more. Each contractor offers practical solutions designed to create a safer and healthier environment for building occupants across both commercial and residential markets. Some of these solutions include:
“Indoor air quality is the work of the sheet metal industry. We’re trained in it, we have certifications in it and we seemed like the natural choice when solutions were being sought to combat the virus,” said Mike Mooney, president and business manager of SMART Local 18. “Clean air is just as important as clean water — you want to be sure the air you’re breathing is pure. Customers who invest in Breathe Easy Wisconsin solutions are proving that they’re invested not only in clean air, but also the safety of their building occupants.”
The importance of clean indoor air
Indoor air quality can be affected by a number of things like toxic cleaning products, poor ventilation, high temperature and humidity. Without the proper equipment installed, it’s easy for mold, bacteria, viruses, pet dander and more to spread. Continued exposure to these contaminants can cause a variety of health concerns, ranging from asthma and respiratory infections to more serious conditions. The Environmental Protection Agency reports the annual cost to businesses as a result of indoor air pollution is $60 billion.
Despite concerns over poor indoor air quality, 90% of employees miss the workplace, according to the Envoy Return to Work Survey. However, an October 2020 Protecting the Workplace study shows that 24% of U.S. employees surveyed are concerned about being indoors with a lack of proper ventilation.
As clean air experts, Breathe Easy Wisconsin contractors are well-equipped to create healthier indoor environments for businesses, schools and homes.
“We’re not scientists, so we trust and follow the guidance of other groups like ASHRAE and NEMI. We’re technical experts who will install quality equipment that a scientist, engineer or other science and health expert deems best for your facility and equipment,” Kowalski said. “If your facility or home hasn’t been updated recently, you could be running the risk of having a low efficiency, high-cost, potentially unsafe building. By acknowledging that you may need to look at the air quality, you’re taking a huge step toward improving the quality of your air and the efficiency of your whole building.”
For more information or to find a Breathe Easy Wisconsin contractor near you, visit BreatheEasyWisconsin.com.
Note: These measures are not a substitute for social distancing protocols, mask wearing and frequent handwashing, as recommended by the CDC.