Amanda Gale

Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

College of Technology

Committee Member

Shinming Shyu, PhD, Co-Chair

Committee Member

Louise Jones, ArchD, Co-Chair

Committee Member

Deb deLaski-Smith, PhD

Committee Member

Benedict Ilozor, PhD


The design and building industry has a tremendous impact on the environment that is often negative when environmentally responsible design (ERD) strategies are not adopted. The purpose of this exploratory, descriptive study was to determine the firm and practitioner characteristics that impact the adoption of ERD strategies, to ascertain practitioners’ knowledge of ERD strategies and certified products, and to document the adoption of ERD strategies using Rogers’ model of the innovation adoption process.

The web-based, national survey utilized a purposive sample of 146 architects, facility managers, and interior designers who belonged to professional organizations (AIA, IFMA, ASID, and IIDA) that disseminated the self-administered questionnaire to members in eight states. Data were analyzed using a combination of descriptive and inferential statistics.

As determined by the mode, the typical practitioner was an interior designer, between 31-50 years old, with a bachelor’s degree, who had been in practice for 15+ years specializing in corporate office design, and was NCIDQ certified but was not a LEED AP. The typical firm had 1-19 employees, including 1-5 interior designers but no architects, and had a sustainability policy in place.

Major findings included: 1) practitioners have a moderate to good understanding of many ERD strategies; 2) they are familiar with product certification programs, although the programs are not well understood; and 3) the overwhelming majority are in the final stage of the adoption process. If the general population of practitioners is understood to be similar to the participants in ways that are relevant to this research investigation, it is clear that environmental responsibility is an important criterion in the design of the built environment. However, facility managers consistently scored lower than architects or interior designers regarding knowledge of ERD strategies and products. This is of concern because they are typically responsible for the built environment after the initial construction project has been completed.

The results provide insight into the design and building industry’s understanding and use of environmentally responsible design strategies. This information can be used to create educational opportunities for practitioners and to facilitate a dialog to move the industry towards a more environmentally responsible future.