Forest Service Funds Georgia Tech Project Using Georgia Timber for Stronger Army Barracks

The timber industry, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are teaming with Georgia Tech to design and build better portable housing for overseas troops.

Funded by a grant from the United States Forestry Service (USFS), the project will explore ways to utilize new laminated wood products in the construction of temporary barracks. Lauren Stewart, principal investigator on the project and an assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Russell Gentry, associate professor of architecture and civil engineering at Georgia Tech, saw the products — called cross-laminated timber, or CLT — as an ideal material for both constructing the short-term structures and creating a new market for Georgia’s timber industry, the largest in the country.

“With 22 million acres of working forests and a $32 billion economic impact, Georgia is blessed to be the No. 1 forestry state in the nation,” said Andres Villegas, president and CEO of the Georgia Forestry Association. “That’s why we at the Georgia Forestry Association are fully supportive of the research that Georgia Tech is doing with cross-laminated timber through the USDA’s Wood Innovation Grant.

The Forest Service was looking for new uses for the CLT products, a wood panel typically consisting of three, five, or seven layers of lumber oriented at right angles to one another and then glued together.

The United States Department of Defense (DoD) spent more than $150 million over the past five years to design lightweight bunkers, or “b-huts,” for troops, which were an improvement from the tents typically used in combat. Georgia Tech is proposing CLT as a way to make the barracks more durable than previous building materials and ultimately safer for the troops.

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