As offices nationwide spring back to life, interior space designers and architects will soon have an easy-to-use planning tool to place indoor workplace furniture, staff, partitions and ventilation in a manner that maximizes fresh airflow and reduces the risk of airborne pathogens.

The Cornell Environmental Systems Lab in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning will introduce a new indoor module for their existing Eddy3D software, a professional-level airflow and microclimate simulator that can help improve ventilation.

The new indoor module will be released this summer, while the research supporting it will be presented at the International Building Performance Association conference this September in Belgium.

Based on computational fluid dynamics, the tool features a simple user interface, a validated simulation engine and a streamlined simulation setup for fast analysis. It shows the eddies of airflow and can indicate regions in rooms where the air is stagnant and pathogens begin to concentrate.

The lab’s research shows that furniture—and people—have a large influence on virus diffusion throughout the floor plan. Plastic partitions can block the virus diffusion, but direct air allows a higher virus dissipation rate.

According to Timur Dogan, assistant professor in the Department of Architecture, who directs the Environmental Systems Lab, as a designer or an architect, it’s very difficult to develop an intuition for airflow. He thinks that with this, we are getting a good synchronization of airflow everywhere so that we are not mixing or transporting bad air from one location to another, or from one desk to another.

Dogan said that architects and designers are not necessarily experts in computational fluid dynamics and that the goal is to help professionals make decisions about workplace and classroom environments.

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