Honors Gallery

Building Airflow and Contaminant Computer Model for Sustainability and Health

Award: Excellence in Technology Transfer

Year: 2016

Award Type: National

National Institute of Standards and Technology - NIST

Consider a technology that allows supertall skyscrapers to be designed with lower energy use and environmental impacts, enables building smoke control systems that give occupants enough time to evacuate buildings during fires, and protects homeowners from the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators.

All of these have been made possible by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with the development of a technology known as the CONTAM building model, which has been transferred to end users in the building community to meet these needs and more. CONTAM was collaboratively developed as a multizone transport simulation program that predicts air and contaminant movement in complex buildings. It was originally developed as a research tool, but given its broad application to real-world problems, the technology development has been followed by a multifaceted technology transfer effort involving the interaction of NIST staff with architects, engineers, indoor air quality professionals, and building security experts in the public and private sectors.

Starting with the release of CONTAM version 3.0 in 2011, a major effort was undertaken to further develop the technology and transfer it to a wide range of users.

The CONTAM team successfully managed the development, distribution and application of this simulation tool, working with numerous partners outside of NIST.

These partnerships, including a collaboration under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), were undertaken to enable the program to support various applications of CONTAM, ranging from the design of sustainable buildings to the development of technologies to make buildings safe and secure from intentional and unintentional threats.

The transfer of CONTAM to its broad user community has involved a combination of technical reports and papers, conference presentations, a website devoted to CONTAM, email contact with users, a Yahoo user group, training, and interactions with professional colleagues from the research and building practitioner communities. These interactions have included public-private partnerships to collaborate on identifying computational needs to support the application of CONTAM. These needs were then met by NIST through modifications to CONTAM and transfer of these new capabilities to these users. As a result of this technology transfer success, CONTAM has contributed to reduced energy consumption and improved indoor air quality in today's sustainable buildings, improved building occupant safety in the event of fire, and more secure buildings in the event of intentional or unintentional airborne releases of chemical, biological and radiological agents.

Contact: W. Stuart Dols, (301) 975-5860, [email protected]



Team Members:

W. Stuart Dols, Steven Emmerich, Brian Polidoro