Architecture Program


Date of this Version

Fall 12-3-2015

Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Architecture, Under the Supervision of Professor Lindsey Bahe. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Deborah Lindsey Ketchum


A significant amount of research identifies a relationship between the physical environment of educational facilities and how the design can positively or negatively impact teachers, staff and students. Evidence indicates that America’s school facilities are outdated, decaying, and need repair. This presents an opportunity for interior design professionals to create high-quality learning environments through an emphasis on sustainable design practices.

This thesis examines interior spaces of two high school buildings in North Mississippi. Site A incorporated sustainable design principles while Site B did not. To limit influential variables, the two sites were selected because of the location and similar population size. The method of the research was a qualitative mixed method approach used to evaluate each school. The objective was to determine the positive and negative impacts each built environment had on the occupant’s overall well-being, teaching, and learning activities.

The first phase was site observations to inventory the building’s physical characteristics. The researcher had a primary focus on the indoor environmental qualities (IEQ), and documented the presence or absence of sustainable design elements. These findings were used for comparison after the second and third phase data collection, which included electronic survey to faculty and staff, and interviews with each principal. The questions asked to all participants were used to understand their overall satisfaction with the school’s built environment, and if it adequately supported their daily activities. These methods provided data which allowed the researcher to determine if sustainable design principles were perceived more positively than the non-sustainable design principles by the occupants of each school.

The research findings combined with literature review identifies benefits from integrating sustainable design in educational facilities. The findings offer a more specific study on the positive impacts of sustainable design, which is beneficial for design professionals, school administrators, and policy makers. In addition to the positive benefits, the findings also indicated that other variables outside of sustainability influenced the participant’s overall satisfaction with their school environments. Due to the limitations, continued research is needed for occupants to experience the benefits of a sustainably designed and healthy school.

Advisor: Lindsey Bahe