Green Terms 2017-01-14T18:58:59+00:00

Glossary of Green Home Terms

Carbon footprint

A measure of an individual’s, family’s, community’s, company’s, industry’s, product’s or service’s overall contribution of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It takes into account energy use, transportation methods and other means of emitting carbon. A number of carbon calculators have been created to estimate carbon footprints, including one from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Carbon offset

The act of mitigating one’s carbon emissions, often purchased through a carbon offset provider that uses the money for carbon-sequestering activities including tree planting, renewable energy, energy conservation and methane capture.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

Hydrocarbons that deplete the stratospheric ozone layer.

Climate change

The variation of the average temperatures, rainfall and other measures of global or regional climate over time, whether caused by natural processes, humanity’s influence or a combination of both.

Energy efficient

Maximizing, or at least increasing, the ratio between productive output and energy use.


Wastewater generated from domestic processes such as washing dishes, laundry and bathing. Greywater makes up 50-80% of residential wastewater. Greywater can be used for irrigation, reducing water waste.

HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing)

An extremely effective air filter that removes nearly all air particulates.

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)

Refrigerants used in building equipment that deplete the stratospheric ozone layer, but to a lesser extent than CFCs.

Native plants

Plants that have evolved within their own ecological habitats, and are not invasive within their own native ranges. Native plants provide food and shelter to indigenous wildlife, stabilize shorelines and fields, etc., growing in balance with surrounding plant and animal species.


A solar power technology that uses solar cells or solar photovoltaic arrays to convert light from the sun directly into electricity.

Post-consumer recycled content

Material used and then recycled by consumers. This is distinguished from by-products of the manufacturing process that are recycled (pre-consumer recycling).


The collection, reprocessing, marketing and use of materials that were diverted or recovered from the solid waste stream.

Solar panel

A device that collects energy from the sun and converts it into electricity or heat.

Sustainable forestry

The practice of managing forest resources to meet the long-term forest product needs of humans while maintaining the biodiversity of forested landscapes. The primary goal is to restore, enhance and sustain a full range of forest values-economic, social and ecological.

Thermal envelope

The thermal enclosure created by the building exterior and insulation. Improving the thermal envelope is one of the most important aspects to creating an energy efficient home.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Carbon compounds that participate in atmospheric photochemical reactions (excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides and carbonates, and ammonium carbonate). The compounds vaporize (become a gas) at normal room temperatures.

Walk-off mats

Interior mats designed to reduce dust and debris. Walk-off mats should be placed at the entrances and allow for a few strides on the mat to be most effective.

Source: U.S Green Building Council website


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