Resources

GREEN BUILDING GLOSSARY

Air sealing

The steps taken to prevent uncontrolled inward and outward air leakage in the building envelope.

AIR BARRIER

A material installed around the home’s frame to prevent or reduce the infiltration of air into the interior that may be too hot, cold or moist for comfort.

BUILDING ENVELOPE

Building elements (e.g., walls, roofs, floors, windows, etc.) that enclose conditioned (heated and cooled) spaces and through which energy and pollution may be transferred to and from the outdoors.

CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLY MANAGED FOREST

Forest harvesting practices that have been certified as sustainable by a qualified entity. The underlying guideline is preservation of a diverse forest that exhibits the same ecological characteristics as a healthy natural forest.

DAYLIGHTING

The use of controlled natural lighting methods indoors through skylights, windows, and reflected light.

ENERGY STAR CERTIFICATION

ENERGY STAR qualified equipment is independently verified to meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

GEOTHERMAL/GEOEXCHANGE/HEAT PUMP

A highly efficient method for heating and cooling a home using the constant year-round temperature of the earth (about 54 degrees) and a compressed refrigerant to transfer heat into the home during the winter and a reverse process to remove heat during the summer. Heat pumps can draw heat from air, water or earth.

HEAT PUMP

A mechanical device used for heating and cooling which operates by pumping heat from a cooler to a warmer location. Heat pumps can draw heat from a number of sources, e.g., air, water or earth and are classified as either air source or water source units.

HEAT RECOVERY VENTILATOR/EXCHANGERS

Exhaust fans that warm the incoming air with the heat from the outgoing air, recovering about 50-70% of the energy.

HIGH PERFORMANCE INSULATION

Blown-in cellulose, icynene or closed cell foam insulation that has a very high R-value and that creates a complete air barrier.

HVAC

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning system

IMPERVIOUS COVER

A ground cover that does not allow water to pass through it to the soil below such as blacktop, brick, cobble, or bluestone, increasing stormwater runoff and resulting non-point source pollution.

INTEGRATED DESIGN

A process that considers the many disparate parts of a home building project, and examines the interaction between design, construction, and operations to optimize the health, energy and environmental performance of the home. The strength of this process is that all relevant issues are considered simultaneously in order to solve many problems with one solution.

LEED CERTIFICATION

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design national rating system that defines specific benchmarks for a green home to receive certification.

LIFECYCLE

The consecutive, interlinked stages of a product, beginning with raw materials acquisition and manufacture, continuing with its fabrication, manufacture, construction and use, and concluding with ultimate disposal methods.

LOW-EMISSIVITY WINDOWS

Glazing that has special coatings to permit most of the sun’s light radiation to enter the building, but prevents heat radiation from passing through.

OFF-GAS

The emitting of fumes into the air. Most new paints, carpeting, and many other building materials typically off-gas chemical compounds which are unpleasant to breathe and may be hazardous to occupant health.

PASSIVE BUILDING DESIGN

Building configurations that take advantage of natural, renewable resources (like sunlight, cooling breezes, etc.) and typically do not involve any moving parts or mechanical processes.

R-VALUE

A unit of thermal resistance used for comparing insulating values of different materials; the higher the R-value of a material, the greater its insulating properties.

SOLAR THERMAL/SOLAR PV

In solar thermal, the energy of the sun is used to pre-heat water before sending it to a hot water heater; in solar PV, photovoltaic panels convert the sun’s energy directly into electricity.

STORMWATER MANAGEMENT/RUN-OFF

Efficient management of water from rainfall that would otherwise flow off of land instead of soaking in.

THERMAL BRIDGING

An element in a building envelope which is a poor insulator and compromises the insulating value of the envelope by allowing heat to move through it, e.g., wood studs without exterior insulation.

U-VALUE

The measure of the rate of non-solar heat loss or gain through a material. The reciprocal of R-value. The lower the U-value, the greater the material’s resistance to heat flow and the better its insulating value.

VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS (VOC)

Chemical compounds that can be emitted by oil-based paints, solvent-based finishes, adhesives, and other products on/in construction materials that can cause nausea, headaches, etc.

XERISCAPING™

A creative landscaping design for conserving water that uses drought-resistant or drought-tolerant plants.


FUTURE READING

The articles, books and guides listed here, not affiliated with Green Home Consulting, provide helpful information about building green. Topics cover a wide range of areas related to green homes, including solar energy, geothermal systems, incentive programs, and guidelines for hiring an architect or contractor.

BOOKS