Green building glossary

Green building glossary

Here's a quick rundown of some organizations and terms you will see in the Angie's List Magazine coverage of green building

A

AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS
National professional association that formed influential green building committees in the 1970s; their Committee on the Environment is still an important voice

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERIOR DESIGNERS FOUNDATION
A leading organization of interior design professionals who promote sustainable design and teamed up with the USGBC to launch the REGREEN Guidelines

ARCHITECTURE 2030
Environmental advocacy group focused on protecting the global environment by issuing a challenge to reduce new and existing buildings' fossil fuel consumption 50 percent by 2010 and become carbon neutral by 2030

AUSTIN ENERGY GREEN BUILDING
America's first green building program, formed in 1991, has rated more than 7,500 single family homes and 8,000 multifamily units

B

BIOGAS
Gas produced by the biological breakdown of organic matter

BIOMASS
Plant matter grown for use as biofuel, including wood products

BIOSWALE
A landscape element designed to remove pollution from runoff water

BLACKWATER
Wastewater generated from toilet flushing

BUILDING RESEARCH ESTABLISHMENT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT METHOD
The Building Research Establishment in England created this national green building standard, the world's first, in 1989

BUILT GREEN COLORADO
Introduced in 1995, one of the oldest and largest green home building programs in the nation, with more than 30,000 certified homes; representatives contributed to the development of LEED for Homes

C

CARBON FOOTPRINT
Measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases produced

CELLULOSE SHREDDED NEWSPAPER
A healthy alternative to fiberglass insulation, cellulose made from shredded newspaper is blown into attics or sprayed into wall cavities

CERTIFIED GREEN PROFESSIONAL
National Association of Home Builders' designation recognizes builders, remodelers and other industry professionals who incorporate green building principles into homes; classwork leading to the designation provides background in green building methods and tools to reach consumers

CLEAN ENERGY
Environmentally friendly energy obtained by renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas and low-impact hydro

COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHT BULBS
Designed to replace incandescent light bulbs, CFLS use less power and last much longer.

CONGRESS FOR THE NEW URBANISM
An organization promoting walkable, neighborhood-based development as an alternative to suburban sprawl and one of three groups partnering on the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program

E

EARTH ADVANTAGE
Green building program based in Portland, Ore., that has transformed itself over the past decade from a utility-based energy conservation focus to a fully encompassed sustainability program; representatives contributed to the development of LEED for Homes

EARTHCRAFT HOUSE
Green building program in the Atlanta metro area with more than 4,000 single family homes and 1,500 multifamily units certified; representatives contributed to the development of LEED for Homes

ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005
Congressional statute mandating that all public utilities must offer net metering to customers and include tax incentives for alternative energies such as solar and wind power; most incentives expired in 2006, but residential solar credit continues through 2008

ENERGY STAR
U.S. government program that rates products and new homes for energy efficiency, certifying 850,000 Energy Star Qualified Homes since 1992

ENVIRONMENTS FOR LIVING
National green building program popular primarily in the south and southwest that focuses on heating and cooling performance and provides a comfort guarantee

F

FLORIDA GREEN BUILDING COALITION
Nonprofit corporation providing a statewide green building program with environmental and economic benefits that has certified more than 1,600 homes

FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL
Organization formed in 1993 to establish standards and coordinate certification for sustainable forestry

FORMALDEHYDE
Toxic gas used widely in production of adhesives, plastics, preservatives and fabric treatments and commonly emitted by indoor materials that are made with its compounds

G

GEOTHERMAL
Heat pump system that warms a house by pumping in earth-heated air and cools it by pumping warm air back into the earth

GRAYWATER
Wastewater from sinks and drains that can be used for irrigation after simple filtration

GREEN ADVANTAGE
Environmental certification program in 31 states for remodelers and other building-related practitioners established in 2001 with grant funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and The Nature Conservancy in collaboration with Science Applications International Corporation and the University of Florida

GREEN BUILDING
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines it as the practice of increasing the efficiency in which buildings and their sites use energy, water and materials and reducing building impacts on human health and the environment, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance and removal - the complete building life cycle

GREEN CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL
The National Association of the Remodeling Industry launched this professional certification in the summer of 2007, requiring five years remodeling experience - including three years involving green projects

GREEN POWER
Energy supplied in whole or in part from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, geothermal, hydropower and various forms of biomass

GREEN POWER COMMUNITIES
Communities which reach a minimum benchmark of green power investment set by an Environmental Protection Agency formula; currently 13 communities have this designation

GREEN ROOFS
A green roof consists of vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane; they help reduce stormwater runoff and the urban heat island effect while also filtering pollutants from the air

GREENSBURG
Torn apart by a tornado in 2007, this Kansas city of 1,500 residents has committed to rebuilding all its public buildings to LEED platinum status

GREENSPEC DIRECTORY
A list of more than 2,000 environmentally preferable products produced by independent publishing company Building Green and updated annually

GREENWASHING
Term used to describe the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or benefits of a product or service

GUT REHAB
Stripping the exterior walls down to the studs for a complete rehabilitation of property; gut rehabs are eligible for LEED for Homes certification

H

HELENSVIEW
An affordable green community currently under construction in Portland, Ore., and part of the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program

HOME ENERGY RATING SYSTEM
A nationwide standard produced by the Residential Energy Services Network to measure a house's energy efficiency

HOME ENERGY AUDIT
A professional assessment to determine a home's energy efficiency

I

INDOOR AIR QUALITY
The content of interior air that could affect health and comfort of building occupants and could be compromised by contaminants like mold or chemicals like radon or formaldehyde; recent findings have determined that interior air is up to five times more polluted than outside air

INSULATED CONCRETE FORMS
Interlocking foam units stacked together, much like Legos, that are filled with concrete and reinforced steel to create walls that have superior insulation, structural integrity and fire protection

L

LEADERSHIP IN ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN
A green building standard introduced by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000 that now encompasses commercial interiors, core and shell, schools, retail health care, residential and community construction

LEED ADVOCATE
An industry professional volunteer who promotes LEED for Homes

LEED AP
Accredited Professional who has demonstrated a thorough understanding of the LEED process via study and passing a USGBC exam in the areas of new construction, existing construction and commercial interiors

LEED FOR HOMES AP PROGRAM
A new category of Accredited Professionals with knowledge of green home design and building, set to launch in November 2008

LEED FOR HOMES PROVIDER
LEED homes are rated by LEED Providers, which are local organizations that have demonstrated experience and expertise in green building in their region's market; they also provide green home rating support services to builders and training, coordinating and overseeing of LEED qualified inspectors and builder support staff

LEED FOR NEIGHBORHOOD DEVELOPMENT
A joint project of the U.S. Green Building Council, Congress for New Urbanism and Natural Resources Defense Council, this pilot program of more than 200 communities in 39 states and six countries certifies neighborhoods for sustainable building, smart growth, walkability and mixed-use housing

LIGHT-EMITTING DIODE
Directional (but still expensive) lighting consuming only a fraction of the electricity of either incandescent or compact fluorescent light bulbs

LINKAGES
A home's location in relation to community resources

LOW EMISSIVITY COATING
A simple coating on a glass window pane or skylight that helps to reduce heat loss but allows the room to be warmed by sunshine

LOW-IMPACT HYDROELECTRIC
Water power generated in a manner that causes fewer environmental effects than traditional hydroelectric power

LOW VOC
Paints, stains,adhesives and flooring or carpeting with a small amount of volatile organic compounds that contaminate the air

M

MAKE IT RIGHT
Actor Brad Pitt's plan to rebuild 150 homes in New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward using NAHB's green guidelines

MUELLER
A green development on the site of the former Robert Mueller Municipal Airport in Austin, Texas, and part of the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program

N

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF HOME BUILDERS
A Washington, D.C.-based trade association founded in 1942 with the mission to enhance the climate for housing and the building industry; also a federation of more than 800 local and state associations with more than one-third of its 235,000 members being home builders or remodelers

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE REMODELING INDUSTRY
Established organization that certifies people in the remodeling industry and in 2007 launched a green remodeling education program

NATIONAL GREEN BUILDING PROGRAM
National Association of Home Builders' residential certification program rolled out in 2008 to include third-party verification

NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL
A nonprofit organization founded in 1970 and dedicated to protecting public health and the environment; one of three groups partnering on the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program

NET METERING
Billing agreement between a power company and a customer that credits customer for wind or energy returned to the power grid; mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005

NAVY YARD AT NOISETTE
Former navy yard in North Charleston, S.C., and part of the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program

NO-FORMALDEHYDE COTTON BATT INSULATION
A healthy, affordable alternative to fiberglass insulation

NO VOC
Paints, stains, adhesives and flooring or carpeting with no volatile organic compounds to contaminate the air

O

OFFICE OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY
U.S. Department of Energy's office dedicated to enhancing energy efficiency and productivity and bringing clean, reliable and affordable energy technologies to the marketplace

P

PHOTOVOLTAICS
A technology that converts light to electricity; Due to the growing need for solar energy, photovoltaic cell (or solar panel) production has been doubling every two years, making it the world's fastest growing energy technology.

PRAIRIE CROSSING
Conservation community established in 1987 in Grayslake, Ill., and part of the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program

R

RAIN BARRELS
A barrel that stores rainwater collected from the roof, which is used to irrigate the lawn

RAIN GARDEN
A shallow basin filled with native plants that is designed to capture polluted runoff from roofs, driveways and pavement that would otherwise find its ways to sewers, streams and our water supply.

REGREEN
Nation's first green remodeling guideline to educate remodeling contractors and homeowners, created in partnership by the U.S. Green Building Council and the American Society of Interior Designers Foundation

RESIDENTIAL ENERGY SERVICES NETWORK
Organization formed in 1995 to develop a national market for home energy rating systems and energy efficient mortgages

RIGID FOAM BOARD INSULATION
An alternative to fiberglass insulation, this board contains hundreds of millions of densely packed air cells for exceptional thermal performance

S

SPRAY FOAM
An alternative to fiberglass insualtion, foam is sprayed into place and then expands to fill cavities

SUSTAINABILITY
A state that can be maintained at a certain level indefinitely

T

TIGHT BUILDING
Building designed to minimized air leaks in order to reduce energy costs

U

URBAN WIND TURBINE
A power-generating wind turbine designed specifically for use in urban areas

U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL
A Washington, D.C.,-based nonprofit founded in 1993 that developed LEED standards and has the mission of educating the building industry and the public about green building

V

VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
Chemical compound commonly found in paints, stains, adhesives and carpet flooring, which are emitted as gases and can contaminate the air

W

WATER HARVESTING
Collection of both runoff and rainwater for use in place of well water or city supply

WIND TURBINE
A device which generated power from the wind


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