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Green Glossary

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Active Solar - A solar application that uses electrical or mechanical equipment (typically pumps and/or fans) to assist in the collection and storage of solar energy for the purpose of heating, cooling (buildings, liquids, or gases), or making electricity.

Agenda 21 - A comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally, and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, governments, and major groups in every area in which humans have an impact on the environment. The Program for Further Implementation of Agenda 21 was strongly reaffirmed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002.

Air pollution - Contaminants or substances in the air that interfere with human health or produce other harmful environmental effects.

Alternative Energy - Usually environmentally friendly, this is energy from uncommon sources that are renewable such as wind power or solar energy, but not fossil fuels.

Alternative Fuels - Transportation fuels like natural gas, methanol, bio fuels, and electricity.

Bakeout - A process used to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a building by operating a building's HVAC systems at elevated temperatures using 100 percent outside air after all the furniture and finishes (carpeting, ceiling tiles, etc.) have been installed.

Biodegradable - Something when left alone breaks down to be absorbed into the eco-system. Able to be broken down by a living thing.

Biomass - An energy resource derived from organic matter such as wood, agricultural waste and other living cell material.

Bioremediation - The use of natural biological processes (microbes, bacteria, plants, etc.) to break down contaminants and restore contaminated land back to productive use.

Black Water - Water containing human waste from toilets and urinals. Black water contains pathogens that must be neutralized before the water can be safely reused. Typically black water, after neutralization, is used for non-potable uses such as flushing or irrigation.

BREEAM - Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method ???????? A comprehensive tool for analyzing and improving the environmental performance of buildings through design and operations. This methodology has been developed by the United Kingdom-based Building Research Establishment.

Building Envelope - Elements (walls, windows, roofs, skylights, etc.) and materials (insulation, vapor barriers, siding, etc.) that enclose a building. The building envelope is a thermal barrier between the indoor and outdoor environment and is a key factor in the "sustainability" of a building. A well-designed building envelope will minimize energy consumption for cooling and heating as well as promote the influx of natural light.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) - Carbon Dioxide is a colorless, odorless gas that naturally exists in the Earth's atmosphere. The major source of man-made CO2 emissions is from the combustion of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is known to contribute to global warming and climate change. Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have been increasing at a rate of about 0.5 percent per year and are now approximately 30 percent above pre-industrial levels.

Carbon Footprint - A measure of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted through the combustion of fossil fuels. A carbon footprint is often expressed as tons of carbon dioxide or tons of carbon emitted, usually on an annual basis. It is a measure of the impact on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases.

Carbon Monoxide - A colorless, odorless, and highly toxic gas commonly created during combustion.

Carbon Neutral - A scenario where the net discharge of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is zero, meaning the amount of carbon put into the atmosphere equals the amount taken out by natural sources like plants. Carbon neutral is also referred to as "net zero carbon." Companies can become carbon neutral if they purchase carbon credits or carbon offsets through several companies.

Carbon Offsetting - The process of reducing carbon emissions by "offsetting" them. An example is by taking a flight and in compensation paying a company to plant trees to equal the carbon use out.

Carbon Rationing - Limiting the amount of carbon you use each year. Carbon rationing action groups (CRAGS) help you reduce your carbon footprint.

Carbon Sink - Carbon dioxide is naturally absorbed by things such as oceans, forests, and peat bogs. These are called carbon sinks.

Carbon Tax - A charge on fossil fuels based on their carbon content.

Chlorofluorocarbons - CFCs Man-made chemical compounds containing carbon, chlorine, fluorine, and sometimes hydrogen. Often used in older refrigerators and air conditioners, the chlorine in CFCs damages the ozone layer.

Climate Change - A change in temperature and weather patterns due to human activity like burning fossil fuels. See Global Warming.

Climate Neutral - No net production of greenhouse gases (see also Carbon Neutral).

Cogeneration - A process in which power is produced by a gas-fired engine and generator set. Heat produced as part of this process is used as heating and/or cooling media. A cogeneration plant is often referred to as a combined heat and power plant.

Commissioning - A process that occurs prior to building occupancy during which the performance of the building systems are checked and adjusted, if necessary, to ensure they are operating as intended by the design and that the owner's operational needs are met.

Composting - A process whereby organic wastes, including food and paper, decompose naturally, resulting in land rich in minerals and ideal for gardening and farming. Organic wastes are used as a soil conditioner, mulch, resurfacing material, or landfill cover.

Conservation - preserving and renewing, when possible, human and natural resources.

Daylighting - The use of natural light to supplement or replace artificial lighting.

Displacement Ventilation - A method of space conditioning where conditioned air is supplied at or near the floor. Since the air is supplied at very low velocities, a cool layer of air collects in the occupied zone resulting in comfortable conditions for the occupants. Buoyant forces remove heat generated by occupants and equipment, as well as odors and pollutants, all of which stratify under the ceiling and are extracted from the space by return or exhaust fans. Displacement ventilation systems were originally used in industrial facilities and subsequently in office buildings, auditoria, performing arts centers and spaces with large interior volumes. These systems are effective in improving indoor air quality as well as providing energy savings when compared to a conventional fully mixed system.

Eco-Assessment - An evaluation of your home or workplace with the aim of cutting your energy and water usage.


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