Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Martha Jenkins, Joyce Randell, Betty Fulwood

Degree Type

Master of Science


The known population of earth sheltered houses in Warren County, Kentucky were studied (a) to document building materials and techniques utilized, (b) to describe the residents demographically and document their attitudes regarding satisfaction with earth sheltered housing, and (c) to determine reasons for building and resources utilized in financing and planning, as well as problems encountered in regard to the earth sheltered house.

Data on 21 housing units were collected through personal interviews. Data analysis was accomplished using contingency tables, chi-squares, Pearson's product-moment correlation, and multiple stepwise regression.

The earth sheltered house found to provide residents with high satisfaction was generally a chambered elevational structure which had cast-in-place concrete walls at the earth contact points with an exposed wood frame roof and a concrete floor. Amounts of soil coverage on the exterior varied, as did the use of insulation below grade. Waterproofing systems usually included drainage tile, swale(s), plastic sheeting, and a built-up asphalt or pitch coating applied to the exterior walls. A wood stove and central heating system were the most frequently used sources of heat. Air conditioning was utilized by most residents in the summer, although a window air conditioning unit often provided adequate cooling of the entire house. Ventilation was not a concern and dehumidification was seldom a concern for the residents. All 19 original owners (90% of the house owners in the study) acted as their own contractors, hiring professionals for such tasks as soil testing and subcontracting, and most reported no difficulty with financing and planning the earth sheltered house. Information on building the earth sheltered house was most often obtained from family and friends. The most common reasons for choosing this housing alternative were energy conservation and low cost.

Resident satisfaction was high for most aspects of the earth sheltered house included in the study. All residents reported high overall satisfaction with the earth sheltered house and most of the housing systems investigated. Significant (p < .01) contributors to residents' computed total satisfaction score (TSS) were satisfaction with lack of mildew and satisfaction with natural lighting in the house (90% of variance explained). The addition of satisfaction with lack of condensation on windows, satisfaction with exterior appearance, and satisfaction with performance of the waterproofing system to the regression equation brought the explained variance to 98%. Significant (p < .01) to residents' self-reported overall satisfaction with their earth sheltered houses were satisfaction with heating and cooling expenses and satisfaction with interior surface temperature (59% variance explained). None of the other variables, housing related or demographic, added significantly to explained variance in the TSS or self-reported overall satisfaction with earth sheltered housing.


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