Talkin’ Green


Originally, eco friendly building meant less impact on our Earth and its resources. Today, it’s about state-of-the-art construction and best practices, and there’s an ever-increasing economy geared toward rewarding those who meet these high standards.

A Few Terms To Know
CERTIFICATION is a way of establishing the Earth-friendly nature or “greenness” of projects, builders and products. These are designated by NAHB’s National Ecology Conscious Building Standard, NARI’s Ecology Conscious Certified Professionals and EPA’s Energy Star ratings.

EMBODIED ENERGY refers to the initial energy cost of building as opposed to the ongoing energy cost of operating it. For example, a home built of natural materials, made on-site and sun-fired has a very low embodied energy cost, a process including the energy used in mining or harvesting, transporting the raw materials, making the product and shipping it to market.

CARBON FOOTPRINT is the amount of energy used and its impact on the Earth by any individual or entity. Simply burning fuel and operating vehicles and fuel powered equipment generates gases that can be harmful to the planet.

The smaller the carbon footprint of a person or building, the lower the impact on the planet. By fully offsetting a carbon footprint, a person or project becomes CARBON-NEUTRAL.

ZERO ENERGY refers to a building or housing system which exports as much or more energy than it might use with traditional energy sources to operate it. Conservation through passive design and a tight buildingenvelope (the outer skin) are the cornerstones of a zero-energy home.

ACTIVE SOLAR is a term referring to solar heating systems that use mechanical, moving parts to collect heat from the sun and convert it into power which can be used.

A conventional heating or AC system represents a small amount of embodied energy but uses a lot of wasted energy in the operating mode. Asolar heating system requires less actual operating energy but may have a higher amount of embodied energy, which will normally be quickly offset.

PASSIVE SOLAR is used to mean a unique building method which makes the building adapt to the climate by design. Buildings “capture” solar heat and store the energy in liquid (water and other) then release that energy on demand. Natural lighting replacing light fixtures is also a form of passive solar.

Tight building envelopes (the outer skin) greatly reduce the need for other types of heating and cooling. If well designed, a passive home will even have less embodied energy than a similar conventional house.

LIFE CYCLE COSTING estimates the total costs of materials, construction, operation and maintenance of the structure over its projected life. Buildings and personal homes that use less energy will have a better life cycle costing (LCC) than others using conventional methods.

For more information on how you can build more responsibly, searchenvironmental construction or green building using the Bing Custom Search Box over to the right. For more terms and definitions, search new environmental building terms or ecological dictionary.

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Updated: September 28, 2013 — 1:17 pm

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