Eco Green Glossary

EcoGreen Glossary



Aerated Autoclaved Concrete (AAC) Precast concrete that is cured by steam pressure inside a kiln called autoclave. The material is lighter weight than conventional concrete and has good insulation properties.

Absorber A component of a solar heater that soaks up heat from the sun and helps transmit it to the water or heating

Active Solar Heating Systems that collect and absorb solar radiation, then transfer the solar heat directly to the interior space or to a storage system, from which the heat is distributed. There are two types of systems: liquid-based systems and air-based systems. If a system cannot provide adequate space heating, an auxiliary or back-up system provides the additional heat. Both air and liquid systems can supplement forced air systems.

Active Solar Power A solar electric (photovoltaic or "PV") system, not passive solar design, that converts the sun's energy into electricity for the home. It is usually done with PV panels installed on the roof.

Advanced Framing / Concrete Construction A construction method (also known as "Optimum Value Engineering" or "OVE") that uses less material in the framing of a home and can reduce material costs and improve energy efficiency. Concrete construction involves using insulated concrete forms (ICFs) to create durable, efficient homes. The approach decreases the number of breaks in the thermal barrier of the building envelope. It also can save on construction costs because it is fast, especially compared with "stick built" homes.

Aperture An opening for the purpose of admitting light.

ASI / ASHRAE / IESNA Standards American National Standards Institute (ANSI), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Inc. (ASHRAE), Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) Energy Standard for Buildings. A nationally-recognized energy standard for commercial buildings.

Attached Greenhouse A structure situated on a lower floor (or even below the first floor) and located on a home's south side can provide passive solar heat to the home. Heat collected by the greenhouse at the lower level rises into the interior of the home by way of convection.

Attic Fan A fan typically mounted on the roof to create positive air-flow through an attic that does not rely on wind or require excessive passive venting. It is connected to a thermostat and operates automatically. Such fans offer several advantages. They:
1. Lower upstairs room temperatures by 10º;
2. Lengthen roof life by keeping shingles cooler;
3. Keep attics dry during the winter if they are installed with a humidistat;
4. Saves up to 30% on air-conditioning costs. (Savings vary by region and roof characteristics.)

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Balometer An instrument, a capture hood, that measures airflow.

A process that uses biological organisms to clean up contaminated water or soil; often used in oil-spill cleanup.

Bioswale A landscape element, often a planted strip along a street or parking lot, for the purpose of capturing surface water runoff and filtering out silt and pollution before the storm water enters the drainage system or groundwater.

Blower Door A test that measures the air tightness of a building.

Brownfields A former industrial site, particularly one compromised by hazardous contaminants; examples are former dry cleaning establishments and gas stations.

Building Envelope The separation between the interior and exterior environment of a building. Usually consisting of the roof, doors, windows, foundation, and walls.

Built Green A green building program in Washington state.

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Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
The most prevalent of the greenhouse gases. Emitted by burning fossil fuels. Naturally occurring from sources such as human and animal respiration, ocean-atmosphere exchange, and volcanic eruptions.

Carbon Footprint
A calculation of the amount of greenhouse gases produced as a result of commercial, industrial, and individual activities.

Carbon Offset
A system intended to equalize carbon production around the globe by trading greenhouse gas emissions–typically produced through fossil fuel consumption–for environmentally friendly actions, such as planting trees and using clean energy sources.

Ceiling Fan(s) Fans, set to push warm air into living spaces, can reduce winter heating bills, and they can cut cooling costs when they are used in lieu of air conditioners.

Cellulose Insulation - Post Consumer Recycled Content Plant fiber that is used in wall and roof cavities to separate the inside and outside of the building thermally and acoustically. Typical materials used to manufacture the product include old newspapers, and telephone directories and borates and ammonium sulfate are included to retard fire and pests. Four major types of loose-fill cellulose products have been developed under a variety of brand names and are generally characterized as dry cellulose, spray applied cellulose, stabilized cellulose and low dust cellulose.

Climate Change Also called climate destabilization or greenhouse effect, this term represents the adverse effects of greenhouse gasses on long term weather patterns.

Coheat Test A test that measures the distribution of heating and cooling systems throughout a building. Measures the overall heat loss factor. The home is alternately heated with the furnace and an array of small heaters (co-heaters) to calculate heat-delivery efficiency.

Commissioning A quality assurance process intended to confirm that all systems of a building—heat, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, safety, security—are operating as intended by the building owner and designed by the architect and engineer.

Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) Small fluorescent light bulbs that can be used in place of incandescent light bulbs. CFLs consume significantly less electricity and last 8–10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

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Daylighting Designing a building to take advantage of natural sunlight illumination.

Deconstruction Dismantlement of a building so that components can be reused and recycled.

Demand Limit Controller The way the demand controller controls loads is called the load control strategy. It is the definition of each load's importance in relation to all other loads being controlled by the system. Generally, there are three load control strategies: priority (fixed), rotating or combination.

Double Pane Windows Double or triple pane glass windows often contain argon, krypton, or other gases between panes to reduce heat flow and improve insulation.

Drought Tolerant Plants Species of plants, shrubs and vines which generally do not require additional watering in order to thrive in their native habitats. Landscapes with drought tolerant plants usually require little or no watering.

Dual Flush Toilets Toilets with two buttons for two flush options, one for liquid and another for solid waste. The button for liquid waste uses less water per flush.

Duct Blaster A test that measures the air tightness of heating and cooling ducts.

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Ecoenvelope A reusable, earth-friendly mailing envelope that contains at least 30% post consumer waste and is printed with soy or water based inks.

Electric Thermostat Timer Referred to as programmable thermostats. Programmable thermostats save energy by permitting occupants to set temperatures according to whether the house is occupied. These thermostats can automatically store and repeat settings daily with allowance for manual override. By eliminating manual setback, they allow the setting of more comfortable temperatures in the morning before occupants wake. Temperature setback can be adjusted for both heating and cooling seasons. Programmable thermostats can be set to adjust the temperature setting according to a user's schedule. These thermostats typically have a digital interface that allows more precise temperature control and a wider range of options or features.

Emissions Trading A system created by the Kyoto Protocol, which allows countries that are under-target on emissions to swap spare emissions with over-target countries with the goal of limiting carbon emissions worldwide.

Energy Assessment A written report prepared by a qualified party evaluating energy usage, highlighting weak points in energy efficiency, and identifying cost-savings measures. A less rigorous process than an energy audit.

Energy Audit A special inspection performed to determine where there are energy inefficiencies in a home or building. A qualified tester uses methods and measurements that comply with industry standards and involves collection of detailed data and an engineering analysis. A written report should include recommendations and a detailed cost and savings analysis.

Energy Efficient Appliances Products that use less energy than conventional models. The ENERGY STAR® label is a credible third-party certification of a product's energy efficiency. Consumers can also refer to the FTC's Energy Guide label, a yellow label affixed to most appliances today. Clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, water heaters, window air conditioners, central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, and pool heaters can get the label. Televisions, ranges, ovens, clothes dryers, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers do not receive such labels.

Energy Efficient Light Fixtures The fixture or the type of bulbs used in a fixture. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) are becoming more common in homes and buildings and they are more efficient and last longer than incandescent bulbs.

Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) Loan products that take a home's energy efficiency into account when determining the qualifying ratios for a buyer. The rationale is that an efficient home will result in lower monthly bills and potentially make buyers of such homes less risky borrowers than others. EEMs primarily apply to new construction. In some markets, an energy improvement mortgage (EIM) can be used to make energy improvements.

Energy Guide Label An appliance label that provides an estimate of how much energy the appliance uses, compares energy use of similar products, and lists approximate annual operating costs. Required by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Energy Improvement Mortgage (EIM) A mortgage intended for existing homes for the purpose of installing energy efficiency improvements.

Energy Rated
See "Energy Audit" above. An energy rating provides a score for home during energy audits. Energy ratings usually have to be used to determine the ratios for an energy efficient mortgage.

Energy Recover Ventilator A type of ventilation system wherein the heated (or cooled) air being vented out of the home is used to heat (or cool) the supply air being pulled in from outdoors. The approach decreases the amount of energy needed to heat or cool the supply air.

Energy Star® A certification granted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for household appliances and buildings that perform at specified levels of energy efficiency.

Energy Star® Appliance(s)
See "Energy Star" above.
Energy Star® Hot Water Heater
See "Energy Star" above.

Energy Star® Air-Conditioning
See "Energy Star" above.

Energy Star® Heading
See "Energy Star" above.

Energy Star® Mortgage
See "Energy Star" above.

Energy Star® Windows
See "Energy Star" above.

Energy Star® Light Fixtures
See "Energy Star" above.

Engineered Wood Products A type of composite wood with superior durability and strength. Thinner or fewer pieces of engineered wood are required to meet the same strength requirements than would be needed with traditional wood.

Enhanced Air Filtration Superior media filters, such as high level HEPA or even MERV filters on HVAC equipment.

Enterprise Green Communities A non-profit organization which provides resources and expertise to enable developers to build and rehabilitate homes that are healthier, more energy efficient and better for the environment, yet still affordable. Green Communities is the first national green building program developed for affordable housing.

ET Irrigation Control A system that uses sensors to measure soil moisture and determine whether watering is necessary.

Evaporative Cooler Also know as swamp cooler. A simple cooling system that operates by moving air across or through a wet pad.

Evapotranspiration The natural atmospheric process of water entering the atmosphere after plants and soil have soaked up the moisture.

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Fenestration Design and construction of windows and doors.

Fiber Cement A siding that is more durable than wood and is termite resistant, water resistant, non-combustible, and warranted to last 50 years. It is composed of cement, sand, and cellulose fiber that has been autoclaved (cured with pressurized steam) to increase its strength and dimensional stability. The fiber is added as reinforcement to prevent cracking.

Fluorinated Gas A greenhouse gas typically associated with refrigerants and aerosols.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) A non-profit organization that encourages the responsible management of the world's forests. FSC sets high standards that ensure forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable way. Landowners and companies that sell timber or forest products seek certification as a way to verify to consumers that they have practiced forestry consistent with FSC standards. Independent, certification organizations are accredited by FSC to assess forest management and determine if standards have been met. Certifiers also verify that companies claiming to sell FSC certified products have tracked their supply back to FSC-certified sources.

Fresh Air Ventilation A mechanical ventilation component of the HVAC system that draws in fresh air rather than recirculating and filtering air within a home.

Fuel Cell A clean fuel source that converts chemical energy from hydrogen to electrical energy. Yields zero emissions.

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Geothermal Energy extracted from the natural heat of the earth's rocks and fluids.

Geo Thermal Heat System (Closed Loop) Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) use the constant temperature of the earth to provide cooling and heating for a home. A loop of piping is buried in the ground and fluid circulates through the loop. In the summer, the fluid uses the cooler temperature of the ground to provide indoor cooling. During colder months, the geothermal heat pump uses the below-ground temperature, which is significantly warmer than the outside air, to warm a home.

Geothermal HVAC See "Geo Thermal Heat System (Clsd Loop)" above

Green Guides Guidelines published by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) providing standards for advertising claims that a product is green.

Greenfield An undeveloped plot of land.

Greenhouse Gases Emitted gases that are trapped in the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.

Green Philosophy A way of living that involves a holistic approach to preservation and conservation of natural resources. It aims to provide a better understanding of the balance between human action and natural environmental resources and improve health and well-being. It also entails creating a better understanding of social responsibility and what effect choices made by people and business have on the environment.

Green Pricing Commitments between the customers and utility companies that aim to increase a company's focus on renewable energy sources.

Green/Living Roof A roof surface covered by a water-proofing membrane, a drainage plane, a water retention medium, and plantings of drought-resistant species. The benefits of a green roof include control of storm water runoff which can reduce urban water pollution; absorption of airborne toxins and an increase in oxygen in the air, and a reduction of surface temperature of the roof (heat island effect). They also can increase the lifespan of the roof system and provide building and noise insulation. Green roofs are most common in multifamily or other large urban buildings.

Green Seal A certification for construction products, such as windows, paints, and adhesives, attesting that the products were manufactured and can be used with minimal impact on the environment.

Greenwashing Falsely promoting or exaggerating the greenness of a product or service.

Grey Water Water from laundry, bathing, and similar uses that can be reused for non potable activities.

Grey Water System Wastewater from bathtubs, shower drains, sinks, washing machines, and dishwashers. Grey water can can be recycled for irrigation, toilets, and exterior washing, and such recycling conserves water. Incorporating plumbing systems that separate grey water from black water (toilet water) can result in water cost savings.

Greyfields A site, such as a mall or commercial facility, which has been abandoned, leaving behind a large developed but empty area.

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