Let's Talk a Little About Stairwell & Elevator Pressurization

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Let's Talk a Little About Stairwell & Elevator Pressurization

Analysis of pressurized stairwells and elevator hoistways, as well as smoke control systems for protected corridors and egress paths, can be performed utilizing algebraic equations or with a network model such as CONTAM. CONTAM is a building airflow and contaminant dispersal model developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). CONTAM analyses are an approved method for analyzing and sizing smoke control systems as recognized by NFPA 92, referenced by the IBC.

CONTAM is a great approach to perform a complete analysis on the interactions between multiple smoke control systems operating in a building; general rules of thumbs and algebraic equations may not be appropriate once multiple systems are incorporated into a design. CONTAM is utilized for two main purposes; the first is to determine what specific smoke control system design will be appropriate to achieve the intended design conditions for each system evaluated (i.e. ground floor lobbies, external vent, simple system). Once an appropriate method is determined, final capacities of supply and exhaust fans and locations can be determined through an iterative modeling approach, taking into account sensitivity evaluations such as variance in external temperatures, wind, and building construction.

A CONTAM model can greatly assist your design team by ensuring that all aspects of a smoke control system operate as intended and meet design criteria. Effects that one system has on another, such as the difficulty in balancing stairwell pressurization with an elevator pressurization system, can be accounted for in the model. In addition, further analysis can be conducted on atrium smoke control systems, coupling results from a fire dynamics simulator (FDS) or other computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model into CONTAM to examine the impact that this additional system could have on stair pressurization.

These models can greatly assist your team in providing a compliant smoke control system for your project, making acceptance and commissioning of the system(s) significantly smoother. Performance Based Fire Protection Engineering, PLLC can provide CONTAM modeling services for your project in a timely and cost-effective manner. Reach out to us to learn more about this service offering.