Lance Cpl. Andrew D. Thornburn | Combat Correspondent | Published in the Observation Post

Marines from 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, now have a modern, spacious and energy efficient place to call home after Brig. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy III, the Combat Center’s commanding general, officially opened building 1432 during a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday.

The new 192-room barracks, which includes a 400-vehicle parking structure, cost $32.8 million, took 18 months to build and can house up to 382 personnel, said Mel Pickens, a facilities management specialist with the Combat Center’s Public Works Division.

During construction, the contractors achieved 57 percent energy cost savings, exceeding the requirement by 27 percent, during construction. They also achieved 50 percent reduction in landscaping water usage and 30 percent in water reduction overall. They utilized recycled, low-emitting and renewable materials from regional sources and diverted more than 75 percent of construction waste from land fills, according to a paper on the buildings features.

The Marines, who are scheduled to start moving in next week, are in for a pleasant surprise when they do. Their new home features some major upgrades from what they are used to.

“It is not about the money, it is about getting a good product to the Marines,” Clardy said.

Pickens said the rooms have more space in them and feel more like a hotel than the typical Marine barracks.

Each two-man room is equipped with walk-in closets, a refrigerator and microwave, beds with built-in storage, and surfaces which require minimal maintenance. Each room is wired for cable TV and Internet.

“Quality of life features provide comfortable and relaxing downtime for Marines, ensuring they return to fight every day refreshed and ready,” said Lt. Cmdr. Allen Sullivan, the resident officer in charge of construction.

Hopefully, the upgraded housing will make Marines want to stay around during the weekends, Pickens said.

Besides the individual rooms, the barracks also has improved common areas to help Marines relax and socialize.

The lounge contains two separate movie viewing areas, pool table, computer workstations with wireless Internet and a fully equipped kitchen. The laundry room is adjacent to the lounge and features a window for security.

Plans for three more state-of-the-art barracks are currently in the works.

The May 28, 2010 Observation Post can be downloaded here