Green Glossary


Here are some common terms and their definitions that are often encountered when talking about the environment:

Adaptive Reuse: The process of adapting old structures for purposes other than those initially intended. This saves on new material needed. For example, a warehouse turned into condos.

Biodiversity: The variety of life on Earth, including the number of species, their genetic diversity, and the diversity of ecosystems.

Brownfields: Previously used or redeveloped land that may be contaminated with hazardous waste or pollution.

Carbon Footprint: Refers to the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere as a result of human activities. Your carbon footprint is determined by activities such as driving your car, heating and cooling your home, and consuming goods and services. 

Carbon Neutral: A state of having zero net greenhouse gas emissions. This is achieved by balancing the amount of carbon created by an activity with an equal amount of carbon being removed from the atmosphere through carbon sequestration or other means. 

Carbon Sequestration: The process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere or other sources and preventing it from being released back into the atmosphere. 

Climate Change: A long-term change in global weather patterns, including rising temperatures, more frequent extreme weather events, and changing precipitation patterns, caused by increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Circular Economy: An economic model that aims to eliminate waste and pollution by keeping resources in use for as long as possible, through recycling, reuse, and repurposing.

Conservation: The protection and management of natural resources to prevent their degradation or loss.

Energy Efficiency: The use of technology and practices that reduce the amount of energy needed to provide goods and services.

Green Building: Buildings that are designed, constructed, and operated with sustainable principles, such as energy efficiency and water conservation, in mind. 

Greenfield: a site that is undeveloped and in a natural state or has been used for agriculture.

Greenhouse Gases: Gases in the atmosphere that trap heat and cause the Earth's temperature to rise, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.

Green Infrastructure: Infrastructure that is environmentally friendly and helps to manage stormwater, improve air quality, reduce heat indexes, and helps to promote healthier living. 

LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. A Global Standard that acts as a benchmark for building design, construction, maintenance and operation of high-performance green buildings and homes. 

Net-zero: The state of having zero net greenhouse gas emissions. Achieving net zero requires reducing greenhouse emissions as much as possible and then offsetting any remaining emissions through carbon sequestration, tree planting, or other measures. 

Renewable Energy: Energy from sources that can be replenished naturally and quickly, including solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy.

Sustainability: The ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable Development: Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

USGBC: The United States Green Building Council is a nonprofit organization that supports the development of healthy, resilient, and sustainable communities through the transformation of the built environment. 

Vegetated (Green) Roof: A roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil that helps with capturing stormwater and reducing heating and cooling energy for a building.

Watershed: An area of land that collects and channels water, and the boundaries of a watershed are determined by the topography of the land. It is important to understand the health of a watershed due to its importance in supporting plant and animal life, as well as human. 

Wetland: An area of land where the soil is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands tend to be environmentally sensitive areas due to the type of habitat provided for unique vegetation and other living things.