Smart Barracks to increase efficiency, raise morale

By Zachary HarrisSeptember 19, 2023

Barracks at Fort Moore, Georgia
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, is providing technical and contracting support for the U.S. Army Material Command’s Smart Barracks Initiative. Barracks at Fort Moore, Georgia, pictured here, have been selected for the pilot program with plans to implement effective changes across many installations. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT MOORE, Ga. – Fort Moore’s Directorate of Public Works is teaming up with U.S. Army Materiel Command and U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville to answer the question: “can barracks be smart?”

The Smart Barracks Initiative seeks to answer that question by incorporating the best practices in smart technology, cyber and physical security, and energy efficient systems to provide better overall quality of life for young Soldiers.

“I believe Fort Moore was selected because this installation is forward-thinking in ways to improve Soldiers’ living experiences,” said DPW engineering division project management branch chief Josiah Van’t Land.

Work on the project began in summer of 2020 with upgrades to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning of the selected building on Fort Moore’s Kelley Hill. A new HVAC system is a primary part of making the old barracks “smart” by purifying the air while lessening operating costs.

“The newly installed (system) increases filtration and uses UV light to kill bacteria and viruses, even the coronavirus,” said Brandi Boutwell, Fort Moore DPW, engineering design branch architect. “Thermostats can be individually controlled and automated for increased thermal comfort,” she said.

Boutwell said there are ongoing upgrades to the physical environment as well including spaces for Soldiers to congregate in their spare time. Modernization of aesthetic features like washable paint finishes, antibacterial black quartz sinks, and antimicrobial epoxy grout add function to form.

“Regarding physical safety, the entrance and access security is still in the planning stages but will utilize the most up-to-date biometric authentication technologies,” she said.

Joel Baker, project manager, Fort Moore DPW, for the Smart Barracks initiative said upgraded sensor capabilities will “automate safety features like physical access and fire systems; connecting those systems directly to Department of Emergency Services systems to increase safety by reducing response times.”

The next planned phase of the initiative will focus on upgrading furniture including electronic standing desks, media chests, and gaming chairs. A Soldier Selection Committee comprised of junior and senior enlisted Soldiers will review and make recommendations for specific barracks furniture.

“Once the architectural updates are complete, we plan to occupy the building in Spring of 2024,” said Van’t Land. “Fort Moore has the opportunity to positively impact the barracks living experience for generations to come.”

Boutwell added that the new design elements with have a lasting effect on Soldier morale.

“Promoting comfortable housing design and quality are instrumental in impacting the mental and physical wellbeing of an individual,” said Boutwell. “It is a critical element in attracting and retaining first-rate personnel.”