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Alternative Energy: Energy from a source other than fossil-fuel sources of oil, natural gas and coal (i.e., wind, running water, the sun).
Biodegradable: Capable of decomposing under natural conditions.
Bioswale: A system that uses plants and soil and/or compost to hold and cleanse runoff from a site, roadway, or other source.
Building Envelope: The exterior of a building’s construction – the walls, windows, floors, roof, and floor.
Carbon Footprint: A measure of the quantity of carbon dioxide expended through the burning of fossil fuels. A carbon footprint is usually referred to in tons of carbon dioxide or tons of carbon emitted and provides a means for measuring the impact of human activity on the planet.
Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL): Small fluorescent lamps used as more energy-efficient alternatives to incandescent lighting. CFLs use less power and have a longer rated life span.
Construction Waste: Waste building materials, landscape debris, and rubble resulting from construction, remodeling, repair, and demolition of homes, commercial buildings and other structures and pavements. Certain components of construction waste can contain lead, asbestos, or other hazardous substances.
Daylighting: The use natural light in an interior space to substitute for artificial light. Daylighting is considered a sustainable building strategy because it reduces energy use and (when well-designed) can maximize visual comfort and productivity.
On-Demand Hot Water System: Hot water heaters designed to provide instantaneous hot water, rather than storing preheated hot water in a tank. These hot water systems can serve an entire home, or be “point-of-use”. Benefits include less energy and water waste.
Engineered Lumber/Wood: Composite wood products made from lumber, fiber, sawdust, and glue. Engineered wood products can be environmentally preferable
to dimensional lumber, because they use of waste wood and small diameter trees to produce structural building materials. Engineered wood products can be stronger and less prone to warping from humidity than typical lumber.
Factory Built: A means for constructing a building in which the structure’s parts are built in the controlled environment of a factory floor and then transported to the site of the building and set onto the previously laid foundation.
Fly Ash: Substitution of fly ash for portland cement in concrete is considered a sustainable building strategy, as it reduces the amount of energy-intensive (and CO2-producing) cement in the mix. Fly Ash also provides performance enhancements such as a denser, smoother and more detailed fi nish than traditional concrete.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC): A third-party certification organization which evaluates the sustainability of forest products. FSC-certified wood products have met detailed criteria in areas such as forest management, worker conditions, and fair trade.
Formaldehyde: A colorless, irritating gas, CH20, used primarily as a disinfectant and preservative and in producing other compounds like resins.
Geothermal/Ground Source Heat Pump: These heat pumps use underground coils to transfer heat from the naturally more stable temperature of the earth to the inside of a building. This type of heat pump provides substantial energy savings over conventional heat pumps.
Global Warming: An increase in the global mean temperature of the Earth that is widely believed to be a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere.
Gray Water: Domestic wastewater composed of wash water from kitchen, bathroom, and laundry sinks, tubs, and washers.
Gray Water Reuse: A strategy for reducing wastewater; diverts the gray water to productive uses such as underground irrigation and non-potable functions such as toilet flushing.
Green Roof: A planted green space on a building roof. Green roofs maintain living plants on top of a membrane and drainage system. Green roofs are considered a sustainable building strategy because they can reduce stormwater runofffrom a site and modulate temperatures in and around the building. Green roofs also have thermal insulating properties and can provide habitat for wildlife and
open space for humans.
Greenwash: A term used to describe disinformation distributed by a person or an organization in order to present an environmentally responsible public image.
Heat Gain: The increase in temperature in a space that results from solar radiation or other heat sources within it, such as incandescent light bulbs. Heat gain increases with the strength of the sun or strength and number of other heat sources as well as with the ability of any intervening material to transmit or resist the radiation.
High Efficiency: A general term for technologies and processes that require less energy, water, or other inputs to operate. A goal in sustainable building is to achieve high efficiency in resource use when compared to a conventional practice.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): ASHRAE defines acceptable indoor air quality as air in which there are no known contaminants at harmful concentrations. IAQ can be affected by microbial contaminants such as mold or bacteria, chemicals, or allergens. Ventilation to dilute indoor contaminants is a way of improving IAQ. LEED™: A self-assessing green building rating system developed by the U.S.
Green Building Council. LEED™ stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and evaluates a building from a systems perspective. By achieving points in different areas of environmental performance, a building achieves a level of “certification” under the system.
Life Cycle: All stages of a product’s development, from extraction of fuel for power to production, marketing, use, and disposal.
Light-Emitting Diode (LED): A long-lasting illumination technology used for many different applications including residential lighting. One of the key advantages of LED-based lighting is its high efficiency.
Low Emissivity (low-E) Windows: Window technology that lowers the amountof energy loss through windows by preventing the transmission of radiant heat while still allowing adequate light to pass through.
Modular Building: Buildings divided into multiple modules or sections manufactured off site in a factory and then delivered to their intended site of use. The modules are assembled into a single building using either a crane or trucks.
Natural Ventilation: Ventilation design that uses existing breezes on a site and natural convection to move and distribute air through a building or space. Strategies can include placement of operable windows and doors, thermal chimneys, landscape berms to direct airfl ow on a site, and operable skylights.
Nonrenewable: Refers to a material as well as an energy source. A nonrenewable resource uses materials or energy that once used, is gone forever and cannot be renewed through natural processes. Examples would include certain species of wood, and some minerals (for materials), and petroleum and natural gas (for energy sources).
Offgassing: The release of volatile chemicals from a product or assembly. Many chemicals released from materials (such as latex paint and carpeting) impact indoor air quality and occupant health.
Passive Solar: An approach for using the sun’s energy to heat (or cool) a space, mass, or liquid. Passive solar uses no pumps or mechanical controls to function. A solarium is an example of a passive solar technique.
Prefabricated Building: A type of building that consists of several factory-built units that are assembled on-site to form a complete structure.
Radiant Heat: Heat transferred in the form of light energy. The radiant heat energy is emitted from a warm element (floor, wall, overhead panel) and warms people and other objects in rooms rather than directly heating the air. Allows air temperature of a room to be lower, yet occupants remain at a comfortable temperature.
Rainwater Catchment/Harvest: Rainwater harvest and storage systems captured and used on-site to offset drinkable water needs for a building and/or landscape. Many different systems exist, but most consist of a surface for collecting precipitation (roof or other impervious surface) and a storage system (cistern). Depending
on the end use, a variety of filtering and purifying systems may also be used.
Reclaimed: Reclaimed materials are similar to recycled products because they have been diverted from waste to be used for something else. An example would be reclaimed lumber, taken from an old building and refurbished for a new purpose.
Recyclable: A recyclable material can be reused again and again in the making of another product.
Recycled: Collecting, separating and processing a material that might otherwise end up in a landfill. A recycled material contains some percentage of these recovered materials in the finished product.
Solar Panels: General term for an assembly of photovoltaic (PV) modules. Using solar panels is a sustainable building strategy that reduces a building’s dependence on nonrenewable sources of power distributed through the grid system.
Stack Effect: Air, as in a chimney, that moves upward because it is warmer than the ambient atmosphere.
Sunshades: Devices for blocking unwanted sunlight and solar heat gain.
Sustainable: The concept of sustainability can be traced back to President Theodore Roosevelt who stated in 1910, “ I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. ” Sustainable materials and development should, in theory, last indefi -
nitely without compromising the resources of the future. Sustainable products and materials are those that decrease their environmental impact at each stage of their life cycle.
Thermal Mass: A mass (such as stone, concrete, or brick) used to store heat. When used correctly in a building, it can be a useful technique for controlling the flow or storage of heat for occupant comfort.
Volatile Organic Compound (VOC): Organic compounds that fade away at room temperatures, cause poor indoor air quality and are dangerous to human health. Sources of VOC’s include solvents and paints. Many materials commonly used in traditional building construction such as adhesives, carpets, furniture and paints
Water Catchment: A system for capturing and collecting rainwater, typically within large barrels or drums, so as to use it during dry periods for irrigating the nearby landscape, yard, or garden.
Wastewater: The spent or used water from a home, community, farm, or industry that contains dissolved or suspended matter.
Wind Turbine: Device for converting the kinetic energy of the wind into electricity.