Design strategy that allows for multiple future uses in a space as needs evolve and change. Adaptable design is considered a sustainable building strategy as it reduces the need to resort to major renovations or tearing down a structure to meet future needs.
Any substance that is used to bond one surface to another surface by attachment. Adhesives include adhesive bonding primers, adhesive primers, adhesive primers for plastics, and any other primer.
An adhesive packaged as an aerosol product in which the spray mechanism is permanently housed in a non-refillable can designed for hand-held application without the need for ancillary hoses or spray equipment. Aerosol adhesives include special purpose spray adhesives, mist spray adhesives and web spray adhesives.
A composite panel product derived from recovered agricultural waste fiber from sources including, but not limited to, cereal straw, sugarcane bagasse, sunflower husk, walnut shells, coconut husks, and agricultural prunings. The raw fibers are processed and mixed with resins to produce panel products with characteristics similar to those derived from wood fiber. The products must comply with the following requirements:
- The product is inside of the buildings waterproofing system.
- Composite components used in assemblies are to be included (e.g., door cores, panel substrates, etc.)
- The product is part of the base building systems.
Includes the percentages of post-consumer and pre-consumer content. The determination is made by dividing the weight of the recycled content by the overall weight of the assembly.
Basis of Design (BOD)
Includes design information necessary to accomplish the owner’s project requirements, including system descriptions, indoor environmental quality criteria, other pertinent design assumptions (such as weather data), and references to applicable codes, standards, regulations and guidelines.
Products that use biological, agricultural or renewable materials such as soy, wheat, bamboo, biodiesel, etc.
Something when left alone, breaks down and can be absorbed into the eco-system.
A scenario where the net discharge of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is zero. Carbon neutrality can be achieved by planting enough trees so that CO2 emissions as a result of combustion would be offset by CO2 absorption by the plants. In the presence of water and light, trees convert CO2 into sugar and oxygen thru the process of photosynthesis. The average tree absorbs 10 kg (22 lbs) of CO2 per year. Carbon neutral is also referred to as “net zero carbon”.
A measure of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted through the combustion of fossil fuels. A carbon footprint is often expressed as tons of carbon dioxide or tons of carbon emitted, usually on an annual.
Wood originating from forests with audited and certified sustainable forestry practices such as protecting trees for future needs as well as wildlife habitat, streams and soil.
The process or actual document tracking a wood product from the forest through processing and manufacture to a vendor or consumer, verifying that the wood is from a certified forest.
A process that occurs prior to building occupancy during which the performance of the building systems are checked and adjusted if necessary, in order to ensure that they are operating as intended by the design and that the owner’s operational needs are met. Cradle to Cradle—Refers to the closed loop cycle of products that have a perpetual life through their ability to be completely recycled or decomposed without environmental degradation at the end of their initial use life.
A product consisting or wood or plant particles or fibers bonded together by a synthetic resin or binder (i.e., plywood, particle-board, OSB, MDF, composite door cores). For the purposes of LEED requirements, products must comply with the following conditions:
- The product is inside of the building’s waterproofing system.
- Composite wood components used in assemblies are included (e.g., door cores, panel substrates, plywood sections of I-beams).
- The product is part of the base building systems.
Refers to the life cycle of a product – the materials, energy and environmental impact involved -- from its beginnings (extraction) through the end of its usefulness (disposal). Sometimes applied specifically to hazardous waste.
Little or no impact on the native eco-system.
The area of land and water needed to produce the resources to entirely sustain a human population and absorb its waste products with prevailing technology. The concept of an ecological footprint is used as a resource management and community-planning tool.
Total energy used to create a product, including the energy used in mining or harvesting, processing, fabricating, and transporting the product.
Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs)
Installation or modification of equipment or systems for the purpose of reducing energy use and/or costs. (LEED definition).
Ratio of energy output of a conversion process or of a system to its energy input.
Composite wood products made from lumber, fiber or veneer, and glue. Engineered wood products can be environmentally preferable to dimensional lumber, as they allow the use of waste wood and small diameter trees to produce structural building materials. Engineered wood products distribute the natural imperfections in wood fiber over the product, making them stronger than dimensional lumber. This allows for less material to be used in each piece, another environmental benefit. Potential environmental drawbacks with engineered wood include impacts on indoor environmental quality due to offgassing of chemicals present in binders and glues, and air and water pollution related to production.
For an industrial setting, this is a company's environmental impact determined by the amount of depletable raw materials and nonrenewable resources it consumes to make its products, and the quantity of wastes and emissions that are generated in the process. Traditionally, for a company to grow, the footprint had to get larger. Today, finding ways to reduce the environmental footprint is a priority for leading companies.  An environmental footprint can be determined for a building, city, or nation as well, and gives an indication of the sustainability of the unit.
Environmental Impact Statement
A document required of federal agencies by the National Environmental Policy Act for major projects or legislative proposals significantly affecting the environment. A tool for decision making, it describes the positive and negative effects of the undertaking and cites alternative actions.
Products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on the environment.
Stands for the Forest Stewardship Council, see sustainable forestry.
It is a flammable, poisonous, colorless gas with a suffocating odor. Formaldehyde is prepared commercially by passing methanol vapor mixed with air over a catalyst, e.g., hot copper, to cause oxidation of the methanol; it is also prepared by the oxidation of natural gas. It has been identified as a carcinogen.
The intent to use holistic design strategies and environmentally friendly products and practices in building construction (including demolition and construction waste management), remodeling and repair, to minimize environmental impact.
A term that is widely used to describe a building and site that is designed in an environmentally sensitive manner, i.e. with minimal impact to the environment.
A building that minimizes impact on the environment through resource (energy, water, etc.) conservation and contributes to the health of its occupants. Comfortable, aesthetically pleasing and healthful environments characterize green buildings.
A design, usually architectural, conforming to environmentally sound principles of building, material and energy use. A green building, for example, might make use of solar panels, skylights and recycled building materials.
A sustainable approach to real estate development that incorporates such environmental issues as: efficient and appropriate use of land, energy, water, and other resources; protection of significant habitats, endangered species, archeological treasures and cultural resources; and integration of work, habitat and agriculture. Green development supports human and natural communities and cultural development while remaining economically viable for owners and tenants.
Greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere permit solar radiation to pass through but prevent most of the reflected infrared radiation from the earth’s surface and lower atmosphere from escaping into outer space. This process occurs naturally and has kept the earth’s average surface temperature at approximately 60°F. Life on earth would not be possible without the natural greenhouse effect, but environmental scientists are concerned about the increased emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities, leading to climate change and its consequential adverse effects.
Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the earth’s atmosphere. Common greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ozone (O3), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halogenated fluorocarbons (HCFCs), perfluorinated carbons (PFCs), hydrofluoro-carbons (HFCs) and Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6). Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxides are of particular concern due to their long residence time in the atmosphere.
Electricity generated from renewable energy sources (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and hydroelectricGreen Design - a design, usually architectural, conforming to environmentally sound principles of building, material and energy use. A green building, for example, might make use of solar panels, skylights, and recycled building materials.
The act of overstating one’s commitment to environmental activity or making misleading claims about the environmental aspects of products, services or technology to garner good publicity.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Indoor air that contains no known contaminants at harmful concentrations and with which a substantial majority of the people exposed to the air do not express dissatisfaction. Good indoor air quality inside a building results from:
- Introducing an appropriate amount of outside air into the building through the HVAC systems
- locating outside air intakes so that the outside air introduced into the HVAC systems is of the best possible quality
- proper filtration
- proper air distribution
- proper removal of indoor pollutants
- proper commissioning of the building and its building systems.
Refers to the quality of indoor air for occupants as influenced by the exchange rate of fresh air, off-gassing of interior products, efficiency and design of HVAC systems.
A holistic process that considers the many disparate parts of a building project, and examines the interaction between design, construction, and operations to optimize the energy and environmental performance of the project. The strength of this process is that all relevant issues are considered simultaneously in order to “solve for pattern” or solve many problems with one solution. The goal of integrated design is developments that have the potential to heal damages environments and become net producers of energy, healthy food, clean water and air, and healthy human and biological communities.
An essential concept in sustainable building. Viewing a building as a system allows the discovery of synergies and potential tradeoffs or pitfalls with design choices. An integrated design approach helps maximize synergies and minimize unintended consequences.
Life Cycle Assessment
An objective process of determining the impact of a product or activity on the environment through analyzing the entire cycle of a product, technology, service, etc. For products, it would include extraction, manufacture, transportation, installation, maintenance, use and ultimate disposal or recycle.
An acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is a point-based rating system developed by the US Green Building Council that evaluates the environmental performance from a “whole building” perspective over its life cycle, providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a green building according to six categories:
- Sustainable Sites
- Water Efficiency
- Energy and Atmosphere
- Material Resources
- Indoor Environmental Quality
- Innovation and Design Process
Life-Cycle Cost (LCC)
The total cost of acquiring, owning, operating and disposing of a building or building system over its entire useful life. LCC includes the cost of land acquisition, construction costs, energy costs, the cost to maintain, service and repair the building and its systems, costs of system replacement, financing costs, and residual or salvage value at the end of the building’s useful life.
Building products manufactured and/or extracted within a defined radius of the building site. For example, the US Green Building Council defines local materials as those that are manufactured, processed and/or extracted within a 500-mile radius of the site. Use of regional materials is considered a sustainable building strategy due to the fact that these materials require less transport, reducing transportation-related environmental impacts. Additionally, regional materials support local economies, supporting the community goal of sustainable building.
Building materials and finishes that exhibit low levels of "offgassing," the process by which VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are released from the material, impacting health and comfort indoors and producing smog outdoors. Low (or zero) VOC is an attribute to look for in an environmentally preferable building material or finish. See "Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)" for more information.
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)
A compilation of information required under the OSHA Communication Standard on the identity of hazardous chemicals, health, and physical hazards, exposure limits, and precautions. Section 311 of SARA requires facilities to submit MSDSs under certain circumstances.
MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)
A composite wood fiberboard, used for cabinetry and other interior applications. MDF containing urea formaldehyde can contribute to poor indoor air quality.
The industry designation for No added urea formaldehyde, referring to adhesives used in the manufacturing process of composite panels and plywood
The concept or goal of to have a carbon neutral building—one with a net energy consumption of zero—producing no carbon dioxide emissions and thus no negative impact on the environment.
Release of volatile chemicals from a product or assembly. Many chemicals released from materials impact indoor air quality and occupant health and comfort. Offgassing can be reduced by specifying materials that are low- or no-VOC and by avoiding certain chemicals (e.g., urea formaldehyde) entirely. Controlling indoor moisture, and specifying pre-finished materials, can also reduce offgas potential.
Post-consumer Recycled Content
Use of materials discarded by households, commercial or industrial facilities, and thereby diverted from the waste stream.
Pre-consumer Recycled Content
Use of materials that have been diverted from the waste stream during the manufacturing process.
Materials are considered to be an agricultural product, both fiber and animal, that takes 10 years or less to grow or raise. And to harvest in an ongoing and sustainable fashion. (MR 6)
Term used by the LEED rating system to reference materials that contain pre- and post-consumer recovered material introduced as a feed stock in a material production process, usually expressed as a percentage.
Regionally Extracted Materials
Term used by the LEED rating system to reference materials sourced from within 500 miles of a project site (thereby reducing environmental impact from transportation of materials). for use in this credit, must have their source as a raw material from within a 500-mile radius of the project site. (MR 5.2)
Regionally Manufactured Materials
For use in credit MR 5.1 and MR 5.2, must be assembled as finished product within a 500-mile radius of the project site. Assembly, as used for this credit definition, does not include on-site assembly, erection or installation of finished components, as in structural steel, miscellaneous iron or systems furniture. (MR 5.1) (MR 5.2)
Sick Building Syndrome
Indoor air quality is compromised because of inadequate ventilation or because of chemical or biological contaminants. Building occupants experience negative health or comfort effects.
Meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. (Definition from the Bruntland Commission Report, UN, 1987.) SUSTAINABILITY refers to the concept that new development must meet the needs of the present without compromising those of the future. Sustainability is measured in three interdependent dimensions: the environment, economics, and society—often referred to as the triple bottom line.
An integrated, whole building design approach that reduces negative impact on the environment. It strives to use resources wisely and minimize waste while improving the indoor air quality for the comfort and health of building occupants.
The practice of managing forest resources to meet the long-term forest product needs of humans while maintaining the biodiversity of forested landscapes. The primary goal is to restore, enhance and sustain a full range of forest values- economic, social, and ecological. (MR 7)
Triple Bottom Line
According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, “Sustainable development involves the simultaneous pursuit of economic prosperity, environmental quality and social equity. Companies aiming for sustainability need to perform not against a single, financial bottom line, but against [this] triple bottom line.”
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Carbon compounds emitted as gases from some solids or liquids, containing chemicals with adverse health effects. Concentrations are up to ten times higher indoors than outdoors.