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A GLOSSARY OF GREEN LIVING TERMS

Carbon Diet - A carbon diet refers to reducing the impact on climate change by reducing greenhouse gas (principally CO2) production.

Carbon Footprint - A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact that human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels for our everyday living.

Carbon Intensity - The ratio of Carbon Dioxide to energy: a measure of the “greenness” of different fuels.

Chief Green Officer - A Chief Green Officer (CGO), or Chief Environmental Commitment Officer (CECO), is a corporate officer responsible for implementing and managing the corporation’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and protecting the environment.

Dual-flush toilet - A type of water-conserving toilet that is relatively common in the commercial sphere but is only now becoming available for the home. After each use you have a choice of low flush (using as little as 0.8 gallon) or a more powerful flush (about 1.8 gallons).

Earthcheck - An adaptable environmental benchmarking tool that measures an organizations environmental output. This is done across a variety of areas, including energy consumption, waste production and resource conservation for the core areas of an organizations operation

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Ecological Footprint - a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems. It compares human demand with planet Earth’s ecological capacity to regenerate it. It represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area needed to regenerate the resources a human population consumes and to absorb and render harmless the corresponding waste, given prevailing technology and resource management practice. Using this assessment, it is possible to estimate how many planet Earths it would take to support humanity if everybody lived a given lifestyle.

Ecosharing - is an environmental ethic for people to live by: that their own impact on the Earth’s biosphere be limited to no more than their own fair ecoshare.

Energy Neutral Design - an Energy Neutral Design is a design of any type (Website, Multi-media, Architecture, Art, Music, Entertainment, etc) that has the environment and low energy consumption practices in mind during all stages of planning and production.

Energy Policy - The manner in which a given entity (often governmental) has decided to address issues of energy development including energy production, distribution and consumption. The attributes of energy policy may include legislation, international treaties, incentives to investment, guidelines for energy conservation, taxation and other public policy techniques.

Energy Star (www.energystar.gov) - An energy-efficiency rating system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency. A high Energy Star rating means that the product — from small household appliances to entire homes — is designed to minimize its energy consumption. The theory being, using as little energy as possible helps protect the environment, conserves fossil fuels and saves you money on the electric bill.

Forest Stewardship Council  (www.fsc.org) - A third-party certification for wood, wood products and forests. The FSC tracks the wood from its forest of origin all the way through the chain of custody to where the product is sold. If a product is FSC certified, you can count on its having been harvested and produced in a stringently eco-sensitive manner.

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Formaldehyde - A toxin found in many adhesives, such as those in plywood and panel board; it also can be found in paints, caulks and other building materials. The World Health Organization recently upgraded it from a possible carcinogen to a known one. When present in the home, it tends to “off-gas” and pollute the indoor environment.

Global Warming - The increase in the average measured temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century, and its projected continuation. In media, it is synonymous with the term “climate change.”

Greenhouse Debt - The measure to which an individual person, incorporated association, business enterprise, government instrumentality or geographic community exceeds its permitted greenhouse footprint and contributes greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and climate change.

Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (www.usgbc.org/leed) - Developed and administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED rating is the most widely known and accepted green certification program.

Life Cycle Analysis - The process of tracing a product, material or practice from its origin through its final disposal or reuse, from factory to landfill or recycling plant.

Linoleum - A natural and eco-sensitive alternative to petrochemical-based vinyl. Linoleum is typically made from the renewable materials jute (used for backing), linseed oil, pine resin and sawdust. Eclipsed by vinyl in the 1960s and ’70s, it’s now experiencing a revival; it comes in both sheets and tiles, in a wide variety of colors.

Low Carbon Diet - A low carbon diet refers to making lifestyle choices to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from energy use.[1] More specifically, a low carbon diet refers to making choices about eating that reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) as a response to estimates that the U.S. food system is responsible for at least 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases.

Low-flow faucets and shower heads - Installing low-flow fixtures is a simple and cheap way to conserve water. If you’re in love with your current faucets and shower heads, you can instead choose to amend them by installing aerators, which slow the flow and disperse water. These simple steps can reduce water use by about 10%.

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Off-gassing - Also known as outgassing, this is the emission of chemicals from building materials, furniture, textiles, bedding or other products in the home. Many of those “new house” smells that we’ve come to enjoy are actually hazardous to our health — they accumulate in the bloodstream and have been linked by some scientists to the increasing rates of asthma and some cancers, particularly in children. The best way to avoid off-gassing is to look for natural products that don’t contain toxins such as formaldehyde.

Recycled content - Refers to the amount of recycled (reused) material in a given product. There is post-industrial recycled content, which refers to the use of scraps from industrial manufacturing, and post-consumer content, which is the reuse of products that consumers have and thrown away

Solar - Simply put, solar processes harness energy from the sun. The solar panels that most of us associate with solar energy are called photovoltaic panels; they transform the sun’s rays into usable electricity. Solar thermal processes can be used to heat our hot water. Technological advances in recent years have made both photovoltaic and solar thermal systems amazingly effective. And prices are more affordable nowadays, in part because many utility companies and local governments offer rebate programs that lower the initial costs of purchase and installation.

Water Footprint - an indicator of water use that includes both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business. Water use is measured in water volume consumed (evaporated) and/or polluted per unit of time. A water footprint can be calculated for any well-defined group of consumers (e.g. an individual, family, village, city, province, state or nation) or producers (e.g. a public organization, private enterprise or economic sector). The water footprint is a geographically explicit indicator, not only showing volumes of water use and pollution, but also the locations.

Weighted Average Cost of Carbon - A term used in finance to measure a firm’s specific cost of carbon. It expresses how much an organization is expending to either reduce carbon emissions internally (abatement) or offsetting externally (carbon offset). As such, the weighted average cost of carbon is the cost a company incurs to balance its carbon liability (carbon footprint).

Volatile Organic Compounds - The toxic or noxious chemicals that are found in or released from paints, stains, adhesives and sealants. Whenever possible, look for products labeled as having low, no or zero VOCs.

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