A Northwest nonprofit organization working with residential home-builders and developers to bring green, energy efficient, sustainable and healthy homes to the new construction and home-remodel markets.
Earth sheltering (also earth berming)
Building below ground level. Soil temperature varies less than air temperature. Deeper soil is at a more constant temperature (around 52 degrees).
An intensive design process focusing on the sustainable design portions of a project, typically lasting a day or few hours, which involves the collaboration of all project stakeholders at the beginning of a project to develop a comprehensive plan or design.
A neighborhood or district with a broad commitment to accelerate neighborhood-scale sustainability. EcoDistricts commit to achieving ambitious sustainability performance goals, guiding district investments and community action, and tracking the results over time.
Two or more separate industrial processes co-located to form mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationships in which each participant’s environmental and resource issues (including energy, water, materials and waste) are managed in a manner that improves their environmental and economic performance.
In biology, it is the study of the relationship between living organisms and their environment. In sociology, it is the study of the relationship between the distribution of human groups with reference to material resources and the consequent social and cultural patterns.
The land area required to produce the resources consumed by, and absorb the wastes and emissions produced by, a particular population or process. A method of measuring the environmental impact of an individual, a business, a city, or any other entity. For an industrial setting, this is a company's environmental impact determined by the amount of depletable raw materials and nonrenewable resources it consumes to make its products, and the quantity of wastes and emissions that are generated in the process. Traditionally, for a company to grow, the footprint had to get larger. Today, finding ways to reduce the environmental footprint is a priority for leading companies. An environmental footprint can be determined for a building, city, or nation as well, and gives an indication of the sustainability of the unit. Term coined by ecologists William Rees and Mathis Wackernage.
Contained green space on, or integrated with, a building roof. Green roofs maintain living plants in a growing medium on top of a membrane and drainage system. Green roofs are considered a sustainable building strategy in that they have the capacity to reduce stormwater runoff from a site, they modulate temperatures in and around the building, have thermal insulating properties, can provide habitat for wildlife and open space for humans, and other benefits. Intensive roofs require more irrigation, are heavier and accommodate a wide variety of plants. Extensive roofs weigh less, have a thinner layer of soil and can accommodate fewer varieties of plants. Also known as a green roof, living roof and vegetated roof.
A complex set of natural interconnected elements on which a habitat’s survival depends directly or indirectly.
Partnerships between the tourism industry and conservation efforts to preserve natural and cultural resources in resort destinations.
Landscaping containing vegetation which is cultivated for its ability to be eaten and digested by humans, for example, fruit trees or grape arbors.
Edible roof garden
A roof garden planted with edible plants, herbs and spices that reduce food and transportation costs for the consumer. (See Permaculture).
Energy efficient mortgage: a mortgage that offers favorable terms to homeowners and/or business owners in order to finance the purchase of energy efficient buildings or make energy efficient upgrades.
Energy efficiency ratio: the ratio of net cooling capacity of an air conditioner in Btu per hour to total rate of electric input in watts under designated operating conditions. (See SEER).
Amount of energy which has to be provided by the technical systems in order to satisfy the needs of the building spaces (see Delivered energy and Primary energy).
The ratio of the amount of useful energy output to the energy input for a given device.
A form of energy generated by friction, induction, or chemical change that is caused by the presence and motion of elementary charged particles of which matter consists.
The entire range of wavelengths or frequencies of electromagnetic radiation extending from gamma rays to the longest radio waves and including visible light.
Type of ballast for a fluorescent light which increases efficiency and reduces flicker and noise.
All the energy required to grow, harvest, extract, manufacture, refine, process, package, transport, install and dispose of a particular product or building material.
Reusing material preserves embodied energy.
Ability of a material to transfer far-infrared radiation across an air space. Materials such as aluminum foil have poor ability to do this (they have a low emissivity rating) and are therefore useful, when properly spaced next to an air space in controlling heat in a hot climate. For example, a roof radiant barrier placed below roof decking over the attic space keeps the attic cooler.
The treatment of asbestos-containing material with a liquid that covers the surface with a protective coating or embeds fibers in an adhesive matrix to prevent their release into the air.
A decision-making tool that keeps the planning team focused on the end users’ needs. It is a key component of green design and development because it identifies how to achieve the greatest benefits at the least cost in financial, social, and environmental terms.
The capacity for doing work. Different types of energy may be transformed from one form to another. English units express energy in Btu’s or kilowatt hours (kWh).
Analysis of the energy use of a structure by application of computer software. Lighting, appliances, water heating, heating and cooling loads make up the energy analysis.
Efficiency of energy use, production, transmission, or distribution that yields a decrease in energy consumption while providing the same, or higher, levels of service.
Energy or water efficiency
Using less energy or water to perform the same tasks. A device is energy efficient if it provides comparable or better quality of service while using less energy than a conventional technology. Building weatherization or high efficiency showerheads are efficiency technologies.
Energy management/monitoring system
A control system capable of monitoring environmental and system loads and adjusting HVAC operations accordingly in order to conserve energy while maintaining comfort.
A computer model that analyzes the building’s energy-related features in order to project energy consumption of a given design.
A federal program that offers businesses and consumers energy-efficient solutions, making it easy to save money while protecting the environment for future generations. ES sets standards for energy efficient appliances, lighting, HVAC equipment and new homes. The blue and yellow ES logo is highly visible and recognizable on approved energy-saving fixtures and equipment.
(See Raised heel truss).
Composite wood products made from lumber, fiber or veneer, and glue. Engineered wood products can be environmentally preferable to dimensional lumber, as they allow the use of waste wood and small diameter trees to produce structural building materials. Engineered wood products distribute the natural imperfections in wood fiber over the product, making them stronger than dimensional lumber. This allows for less material to be used in each piece, another environmental benefit. Potential environmental drawbacks with engineered wood include impacts on indoor environmental quality due to offgassing of chemicals present in binders and glues, and air and water pollution related to production.
An examination (sometimes independent, sometimes internal) of an individual, corporation, organization, product, service, process or government’s impact on the environment. Currently, there are few standards for conducting environmental assessments but there are emerging audit protocols, such as the ISO 14000 and 14001 tools. At the very least, an audit can assess compliance with environmental regulation. However, more sophisticated audits focus on overall environmental impact even where not required by regulations (see ISO 14001).
Environmental Impact Statement
A document required of federal agencies by the National Environmental Policy Act for major projects or legislative proposals significantly affecting the environment. A tool for decision making, it describes the positive and negative effects of the undertaking and cites alternative actions.
US Environmental Protection Agency: since 1970, the mission of this federal bureau has been to protect human health and the environment.
Energy Performance Contracting: a contract with an architect, designer, or developer in which they are paid more than they normally would have been, but part of their fee is paid over time from the savings their solution creates in terms of either performance or efficiency.
Energy Performance Certificate: a rating given to a building based on its energy efficiency.
Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer: a synthetic rubber elastomer which is characterized by wide range of applications. In construction it is used for poured-on roofing membranes, pond liners, and gaskets. It is not recyclable, but can contain recycled/recovered content.
That portion of an ownership interest in real property (or other securities) that is owned outright, rather than financed by debt.
Environmental Risk Assessment: a method of tracking and rating the risks associated with a product and the emissions associated with its manufacturing.
Applied science that investigates the impact of people's physical environment on their health and comfort (e.g., determining the proper chair height for computer operators).
Energy recovery ventilator: an air-to-air heat exchanger or preconditioner, designed to reduce the energy required to heat or cool required outdoor air in mechanical ventilation systems by as much as 80%. These products exchange temperature and moisture properties from one air stream to another. The result is capturing the cooling or heating energy from the exhaust air before it leaves the building (see HRV).
Energy Use/Usage Index: an indication of a property's overall level of energy efficiency and a metric for measuring energy and water/sewer consumption trends over time. It is a rolling twelve-month total of energy and water usage per square foot with adjustments for outdoor temperature and occupancy, taken from utility bills. It is the sum of individual indexes calculated for each energy and water meter source.
Passive building strategy employing the evaporation of water directly into hot, dry air streams to produce cooling; limited to arid climates.
Waste materials generated from using or discarding electronic devices (such as computers, televisions, and mobile phones). E-waste tends to be highly toxic to humans, plants, and animals and contaminate water, air (often when burned), and dirt (where dumped or spilled). E-waste is a particular problem since technological devices are superceded so quickly, causing them to be thrown-out more quickly than many other products. Few of these devices are upgradable, easily reusable, or easily separated for recycling of components or industrial nutrients.
Uncontrolled outward air leakage from conditioned spaces through unintentional openings in ceilings, floors and walls to unconditional spaces or the outdoors caused by pressure differences across these openings.
EPS, a rigid insulation material, in board or block form (as in insulated concrete forms), made by heating pentane-saturated polystyrene pellets. Frequently has a high recycled content, and is recyclable. Comes in various densities for different purposes. It is not very moisture resistant. It typically has no indoor air quality effects.
XPS, a rigid insulation material in board form, made from petrochemicals. It is more moisture-resistant than EPS. It typically has no indoor air quality effects. It is recyclable. Can be used below grade.