Green Homes Glossary

Green – A practice that works with nature instead of against it.

Sustainable – meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Energy Star – An energy-efficiency rating system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A high Energy Star rating means that the product is designed to minimize its energy consumption.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – 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. An FSC certified product has been harvested and produced in a stringently eco-sensitive manner which avoids clear-cut harvesting. www.fsc.org

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

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. Looking at the whole picture is a principle of green philosophy.

Off-gassing – Many of those "new house" smells are actually hazardous to our health. The emissions from building materials and other products in the home accumulate in the bloodstream and have been linked to 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 – The amount of recycled (reused) material in a given product. Post-industrial recycled content refers to the use of scraps from industrial manufacturing. Post-consumer content is the reuse of products that consumers have used and thrown away.

Solar Energy – Energy derived 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.

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) – 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.