All covered. You can’t tell from looking at them, but the elevators at the Chelsea Lane at 16 W. 16th St. are working hard to keep residents safe. That’s because all of the elevator buttons at the two-building, 14-story co-op have transparent covers that utilize nanotechnology to automatically disinfect surfaces around the clock.
Lights, catalyst, action. The elevator button covers, made by Nanotouch Materials, contain microscopic mineral nanocrystals 100,000 times smaller than the size of a human hair. When exposed to natural or artificial light, the crystals undergo a catalytic oxidation reaction that breaks down and kills organic contaminants, including viruses and bacteria. In other words, they’re actively self-cleaning, 24/7.
Now trending. Nanotouch button covers, which can be found everywhere from doctors’ offices to hotels to corporate suites, are increasingly making their way into residential buildings, including New York City condos and co-ops like the Chelsea Lane. “You can spray and wipe down and disinfect, but that only lasts for a little bit, and then you have germs again,” says Norma Potter, who manages the 485-unit property for AKAM. “We’re a big co-op and had to buy a lot of button covers, but it was worth the expense for the peace of mind it gave to residents.”
Thomas Pienkos, an onsite assistant property manager at Douglas Elliman, recently had Nanotouch button covers installed at 2 Bay Club Drive, a 21-story, 1,037-unit condominium in Bayside, Queens. “A board member asked me to look into them because we have a large elderly population,” he says. “This was an easy safety measure, and people are very happy with it.”
Life span. The flexible covers (starting $49.95 for a 25-pack) and optional Nanotouch name labels ($9.95 for a 10-pack) have a non-permanent adhesive backing that makes them easy to install. “If you can put on a Band-Aid, you can put these on,” says Dennis Hackemeyer, a co-founder at Nanotouch, who recommends that the covers be replaced every 90 days, since their efficacy wanes with wear and tear.
At smaller buildings with less foot traffic, the shelf life is longer. “We’ve seen them last up to six months,” says Joel Davis, a senior management executive at AKAM who had elevator button covers installed at two of his properties, a 45-unit condo at 130 W. 30th St. and a 48-unit co-op at 15 Jones St.
Another option. An alternative to Nanotouch is Silver Defender, which makes antimicrobial plastic film covers containing metal ions that work continuously to stop the growth of bacteria and viruses. In addition to elevator button covers and tape that can be applied to everything from door handles to exercise machines, the company makes antimicrobial sheets that can be cut to size — which is what Semir Nikovic, the Orsid NY resident manager at the Vermeer, 77 Seventh Ave., in Chelsea, did to cover the entire elevator button panels at 21-story co-op. “You measure it yourself, cut it yourself and just stick it on,” he says. “I’ve been using them for two years, and I’m still getting compliments and thanks.”