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Squillo to Discuss How New Office Configurations Impact the Spread of Pathogens

In a post-COVID-19 world, many companies are exploring different options to safely return to work. This includes the installation of panels and other physical barriers between desk spaces to stop the spread of pathogens. But how is the effectiveness of these mitigation strategies measured?

According to ESD Mechanical Technical Director Thomas Squillo, the key is to use a long-established, but often overlooked, tool to analyze building airflow patterns, namely computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Squillo will be presenting “A Comparison of COVID-19 Mitigation Alternatives in a Typical Open Office Setting Using CFD Modeling” at the 2021 ASHRAE Building Performance Analysis Conference.

Squillo is expected to discuss how CFD modeling can be used effectively to compare different COVID-19 mitigation options, such as cubicle partitions, seating arrangements, portable air-cleaning devices, and air conditioning design and control. However, he  warns that all spaces are not created equal, and mitigation efforts can have varying effects even within the same space. Even small differences can impact results dramatically. For example, partitions that disrupt normal airflow patterns can be effective for some occupants but may have the unintended result of creating localized high contaminant levels. Squillo cautions the results of any single study should not be used as a general rule for all spaces.

This year’s Denver-based conference is scheduled for November 10 through 12 and, for the first time, will be offered as a hybrid event allowing both in-person and online participation.

Tom Squillo embodies ESD’s mission to improve society through the built environment through his active involvement with professional organizations like ASHRAE where he freely shares his experience and knowledge with colleagues.

For more information on how to use computational fluid dynamics studies or for ways to use innovation to improve building efficiency and sustainability, reach out to Tom.


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