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Application Examples

The Accurate CFD Software that Throttles Up
Building Design and Energy Modeling Processes

Picture 1: Duke University’s Environment Hall designed by Payette
© Warren Jagger Photography

Payette, an award-winning architectural design firm located in Boston with 165 employees, specializes in high technology building design for science institutions, healthcare, and research facilities. With the emphasis on technology the firm’s projects often feature energy efficiency, naturally ventilated spaces, or a thermal corridor. Payette’s projects include the Duke University’s Environment Hall (Picture 1), George Washington University’s School of Public Health, and many more, all of which were recognized for design excellence. Payette has used scSTREAM CFD software since 2013.

Picture 2: Dr. Alejandra Menchaca, a building scientist at Payette. She obtained Master’s and Ph.D. Degrees in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering from MIT.

One of Payette's strengths is that, unlike typical design firms, its designers work directly with staff scientists: Dr. Alejandra Menchaca (Picture 2) is one of the building scientists. As a visiting faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with experience serving as a building physics consultant for Hulic Co., Ltd. in Japan, Dr. Menchaca took a role as a building scientist at Payette, where she provides design guidance and direction from a sustainability and energy performance standpoint. Her involvement begins early with schematic design, and continues all the way to detailing and specifications. She uses a wide range of tools to address specific aspects of building design. These tools range from quick back-of-the-envelope calculations, to more elaborate daylighting or energy simulations to full CFD computations.

Figure 1: Case example of air temperature validation inside a building (validation setting above, result below). Click to enlarge.

scSTREAM, a Remarkable CFD Tool for Architectural Design

Dr. Menchaca has extensive experience in natural ventilation. She has helped develop natural ventilation and passive cooling performance simulations, where she had an instrumental role in the development and implementation of a physical model to predict the thermal stratication of air in naturally ventilated rooms. When Dr. Menchaca was looking for a CFD tool for her work, scSTREAM caught her attention because of its accuracy and its full, general purpose CFD capability. Dr. Menchaca's most critical criterion was accuracy. She recalls that “we did not consider any software that did not pass our validation tests. This meant that the software was able to model convective and radiative heat transfer at room scale accurately, as well as external airflow.” For the budget Payette had available, scSTREAM was the most viable option after testing of the candidate tools was completed. “scSTREAM was the only software within our price range that was able to accurately replicate room airflow simulations with convective and radiative heat transfer. Our validation study consisted of comparing scSTREAM’s output to experimental results of flow inside an enclosure with a hot and a cold wall (Figure 1). We compared the temperature and velocity output for simulations accounting for and neglecting radiation, and found that scSTREAM’s results were closer to experimental results than any other package we had tested,” said Dr. Menchaca.

​​*All product and service names mentioned are registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective companies.
*Contents and specifications of products are as of October 31, 2014 and subject to change without notice. We shall not be held liable for any errors in figures and pictures, or any typographical errors in this brochure.

Company Details





Founded 1932
Business Architectural design
President Kevin Sullivan, FAIA
Size 165 employees (as of October 2014)
Location Boston, MA, USA



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