Useful Definitions When Considering Green Choices:

Air Pollution: Addition of harmful substances to the atmosphere resulting in damage to the environment, human health, and quality of life. A by-product of the manufacturing process and transportation of goods. Buying eco-friendly products indirectly reduces air pollution.

Alternative Energy: Naturally generated energy source: any form of energy obtained from the sun, wind, waves, or other natural renewable source, in contrast to energy generated from fossil fuels.

Biodegradable: Capable of decomposing under natural conditions.

Bio-diesel: A diesel-equivalent, processed fuel derived from biological sources (such as vegetable oils), which can be used in unmodified diesel-engine vehicles.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2): Burning fossil fuels releases carbon that has been stored underground for millions of years into the atmosphere. During the combustion process, the carbon in these fossil fuels is transformed into carbon dioxide, the predominant gas contributing to the greenhouse effect. While carbon dioxide is absorbed and released at nearly equal rates by natural processes on the Earth, this equilibrium may be disrupted when large amounts of carbon dioxide are released to the atmosphere by human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels. – A colorless, odorless gas that passes out of the lungs during respiration. It is also given off by volcanoes. It is the primary greenhouse gas, because it is long lived (approximately 100 years) and causes the greatest amount of global warming of the long-lived gases.

Carbon Footprint: A measurement of all greenhouse gases we individually produce and has units of tons (or kg) of carbon dioxide equivalent. A calculation of impacted activities an individual or group have on the environment, and in particular climate change. It relates to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation etc.

Compact Fluorescent Bulb (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.

Eco-Friendly: An alternative to goods usually bought in most stores. These products are made with ecology and the environment in mind.

Energy Efficiency: occurs when you use less energy to accomplish the same task, for example heating your home or washing clothes. Using less energy means less air pollution and lower costs. To save energy in your home, you can use weather stripping, a water heater blanket or compact fluorescent light bulbs. Also, when shopping for household appliances, look for the Energy Star to find appliances that use less energy and lower your electricity costs.

Ethanol: An automotive fuel derived from grass, sugar cane or corn. Burning ethanol adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, but it is seen as a renewable fuel, like solar power, that does not deplete natural resources.

Fossil fuel: Hydrocarbons, primarily coal and petroleum (fuel oil or natural gas), formed from the fossilized remains of dead plants and animals.

Geothermal: Energy extracted from the ground using the natural heat of the earth’s rocks and fluids to provide to provide heat and air conditioning.

Going Green: A phrase referring to action that can be taken to consciously curb harmful effects on the environment through consumer habits, behavior, and lifestyle.

Greenhouse Effect: The consequence that certain gases, chief among them carbon dioxide, have on the earth’s climate. Though they constitute less than 1 percent of the atmosphere, they act like a blanket covering the earth. Without the greenhouse effect, the average global temperature would be around 0°F instead of the current toasty 59°F .

Green Power: As defined by Green-e, this term is synonymous with “eligible renewable resource product.”

Greenhouse Effect: The consequence that certain gases, chief among them carbon dioxide, have on the earth’s climate. Though they constitute less than 1 percent of the atmosphere, they act like a blanket covering the earth. Without the greenhouse effect, the average global temperature would be around 0°F instead of the current toasty 59°F .

Greenwashing / Green-Washing: Claiming that you are “going green” but are not changing habits, behaviors and lifestyles that are harmful to the environment. People really do notice if you walk the walk. Falsely promoting or exaggerating the greenness of a product of service.

HERS, Home Energy Rating System: A home energy rating that supplies credible verification for a home’s energy-efficiency using the home’s construction plans and the results of an onsite inspections.

Hybrid vehicle (Hybrid-electric vehicle): A vehicle that utilizes both an electrical motor and a gas- or diesel-powered engine which work in tandem to decrease fuel consumption.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): Indoor air quality problems can result from excessive moisture, radon, combustion gases, and many other contaminants that may accumulate inside. The first strategy to achieving good indoor air quality is to stop these contaminants at their sources. However, not all contaminants can be eliminated at the source, for example excessive moisture in kitchens and bathrooms. Proper ventilation strategies can reduce indoor pollutant levels by bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and carry indoor air pollutants out of the home. More Info on EPA's Website.

LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environment Design: An internationally recognized green building certification system granted by the United States Green Building Council. LEED provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

Light-Emitting Diode Lamp (LED): A technology that produces light by causing electrons to flow through the lamp and release energy in the form of light.

Methanol: An alcohol that can be used as an alternative fuel or as a gasoline additive.

Net Metering: A simplified method of metering the energy consumed and produced at a home or business that has its own renewable energy generation, such as a wind turbine or solar paneling. When the home or business is generating more electricity than it is using, the electricity meter will spin backwards, effectively banking the electricity unit it is needed by the customer. This provides the customer with full dollar-for-dollar value for excess electricity produced.

New Urbanism: Urban design movement, which promotes walkable neighborhoods that contain a range of housing and job types.

Organic: Foods that are produced according to certain production standards. For crops, it means they were grown without the use of conventional pesticides, artificial fertilizers, human waste, or sewage sludge, and they were processed without ionizing radiation or food additives.

Ozone: The gaseous, almost colorless form of oxygen that protects the earth against ultraviolet radiation in the upper atmosphere, but is part of the chemical pollution nearer to the Earth.

Pollution Prevention: Reducing the amount of energy, materials, packaging, or water in the design, manufacturing, or purchasing of products or materials in an effort to increase efficient use of resources, reduce toxicity, and eliminate waste.

Post-Consumer: Refers to recycled material that was used first by a consumer. A high post-consumer content helps divert materials from ending up in landfills.

Pre-Consumer: Refers to recycled material that came from the manufacturing process. Pre-consumer recycling of scraps and discards diverts waste that may otherwise end up in landfills, and reduces the use of raw materials.

Recyclable: A product or material that can be converted back into material that can be used again in manufacturing new goods. Typically, recyclable materials (aluminum, steel, paper, etc.) must remain in their pure form. If too many adhesives are used, or a product is made from a composite, those materials may not be separated at the end of its life-cycle for recycling.

Recycled: To use again or reprocess.

Renewable Resources: Sources of electricity, such as solar electric, wind, geothermal, biomass and hydroelectric. A resource is called renewable if it can be naturally replenished. In general, renewable have lower environmental impacts than nonrenewable.

Sequestration: The process by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere by plants.

Sustainable: Sustainability is commonly simplified to a formula of people, planet, and prosperity (also referred to as the”triple bottom line” or “3BL”.) Actions and products that meet current needs without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet theirs. (2008 US City Sustainability Ranking)

Urban Infill: Redevelopment of sites, in the core of metropolitan areas, for commercial and residential purposes.

Waste Reduction: A process to reduce or eliminate that amount of waste generated at its source or to reduce the amount of toxicity from waste or the reuse of materials. With regards to the environment the creation of waste is a growing problem, as landfills get filled and toxins leach back into the ground. The best way to reduce waste is not to create it in the first place.

Xeriscaping: Dry (xeros in Greek) landscaping that uses slow-growing, drought-tolerant plants to conserve water and recycle yard trimmings.