Compressed earth blocks (CEB) retain the environmental benefits of traditional earthen construction while reducing labor costs and project duration. Despite these advantages, CEB remains a niche material in the U.S. This study explored residential contractors' perceptions of CEB as a barrier to adoption. A survey was distributed to residential contractors in the North Carolina Piedmont, a region that possesses ideal soil for earthen buildings. Construction professionals in states where earthen construction has a larger market share (New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas) were also queried for comparison. Respondents with no CEB experience provided significantly (p < 0.05) lower levels of agreement with statements that CEB is cost effective, structurally safe and aesthetically appealing than did respondents with CEB experience. Interviews conducted with an experienced CEB contractor and a manufacturer of CEB production equipment provided additional insight and informed the quantitative results. Findings represent an important step in exploring stakeholder perceptions as an impediment to the adoption of non-conventional materials like CEB in the residential construction sector. Educating the next generation of builders and homeowners is a key component for the implementation of CEB construction. Educational strategies, study limitations and opportunities for further research are discussed.
1. Project Engineer, Midstate Construction, Petaluma, CA 94954; email: email@example.com
2. Assistant Professor, Dept. of Construction Management, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523
3. Assistant Professor, Dept. of Construction Management, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523; email: firstname.lastname@example.org