SMART Energy-Efficient Deployable Shelter (SEEDS)

Photo shows test setup for the SMART Energy-Efficient  Deployable Shelter.


Attacks on fuel delivery mechanisms and fixed energy supplies in Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrate that energy inefficiency endangers our troops and threatens missions. In short, energy efficiency can save lives on forward operating bases. ARA’s SMART-Energy (SMART-E) group is developing next-generation, energy-saving technologies for deployed shelters, including the SMART Energy-Efficient Deployable Shelter (SEEDS). The goal of SEEDS is to help forward operating bases reach near self-sufficiency by maximizing their energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption from Environmental Control Units (ECUs) by up to 70%. 


SEEDS maximizes the thermal efficiency of expeditionary shelters by improving the effective thermal resistance of each of the shelter’s envelope layers. As a result, the energy needed by the ECUs in cooling and heating the shelters is reduced by up to 70%. The improved shelter design was achieved by the SMART-E group via computational modeling that led to development of the technologies necessary to increase the shelters’ thermal efficiency. The group approached this project in three steps:

Collect and analyze data focused on understanding and characterizing existing deployable shelter technologies. The SMART-E group developed a shelter performance database by compiling and reducing data related to shelter thermal behavior and energy consumption collected from multiple U.S. Department of Defense agencies and programs, including the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration program, the Air Force's Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources program, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the U.S. Marine Corps. This ensured that the operational performance of existing shelters was fully understood, so current limitations could be corrected.

Develop the technologies needed to improve thermal performance. First, the group created a Shelter Performance Computational Fluid Dynamics Model. This combined thermal and fluid dynamics model was validated using high-resolution temperature field measurements from a deployable shelter. The validated model allowed for conducting numerical experiments to optimize the different shelter layer designs. The group then worked closely with manufacturers to evaluate suitable materials, design innovative methods for application, and determine or address potential design constraints related to implementation. The following advancements were targeted:

  • Improved Fly and Skin Solar Reflectivity and Thermal Resistance
  • Improved Liner Thermal Resistance
  • Improved Air Gap Performance
  • Reduced Shelter Air Infiltration

Implement the developed technologies into a SEEDS shelter. The SEEDS shelter was installed in the Forward Operating Base Laboratory at the U.S. Army Research and Development Center’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory for testing and performance evaluation against a dedicated baseline. The improved shelter was instrumented to quantify the achieved thermal performance improvements. The measurements included temperature, humidity, door use, and energy use. While the investigation is ongoing, the initial results are positive and demonstrate energy savings.


A 3,300-man deployment consumes more than 5,420 gallons of fuel daily to power 300 billeting shelters. This results in high fuel costs and a great dependency on regular fuel deliveries that are known to endanger troops. Using a simple calculation for the 5,420 gallons of fuel consumed daily and the conservative $15 per gallon cost of delivered fuel, the fuel cost is about $30 million per year. Since ECUs consume about 70% of the electricity generated for shelters, reducing ECU energy needs by improving shelters’ thermal efficiency will effectively reduce fuel consumption on deployed bases.

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