GLOSSARY OF SUSTAINABLE GREEN CERTIFIED BUSINESS TERMS
The following terms are based on the current Sustainable Green Certified Business Industry. We are providing these terms as a reference guide for you and your employees during your SGCB process. The glossary will be updated regularly as the SGCB Industry evolves.
Absorption Process, either chemical or physical, by which a substance or particle, gas or liquid, is drawn into the structure of another.
Acid A material with pH of less than 7.0.
Acid Rain Rain or any form of precipitation of dilute solutions of strong mineral acids, created by the mixing in the atmosphere of pollutants, typically sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides compounds, with naturally occurring oxygen and water vapor.
Acute Exposure A single exposure via oral, dermal or inhalation to a toxic substance that may result in harm or death. Acute exposures are usually characterized as lasting no longer than a day, as compared to longer, continuing exposure over a longer period of time.
Acute Toxicity The ability of a substance to cause severe biological harm or death soon after a single exposure. Also, any poisonous effect that results from a single short-term exposure to a toxic substance.
Air Pollution - Airborne contaminants or pollutants that adversely affect the environment or human health.
Adaptive Reuse The process of renovating a building or site to include elements that allow a particular use or uses to occupy a space for purposes other than those initially intended.
Adsorbent Material that is capable of the binding and collecting gas or liquids on its surface without chemically altering them.
Aerobic Treatment Process by which microbes decompose complex organic compounds in the presence of oxygen and use the liberated energy for reproduction and growth.
Aerosol Suspended droplets of liquid or fine solid particles in air.
Air Changes Per Hour (ACH) Number of times, per hour, an enclosure’s total volume of air, equivalent to the volume of space, enters that space is exchanged.
Air Exchange Rate The rate at which outside air replaces indoor air in a given space.
Air Handling Unit Equipment that includes a fan or blower, heating and/or cooling coils, regulator controls, condensate drain pans, and air filters.
Air Plenum Any space used to convey air in a building, furnace or structure. The space above a suspended ceiling is often used as an air plenum.
Air Pollutant: Any substance in air that could, in high enough concentration, be harmful. Pollutants may include solids, liquids, gases or any combination thereof. Air pollutants are often grouped in categories for ease in classification. Some of these categories are solids, sulfur compounds, volatile organic chemicals, particulate matter, nitrogen compounds, oxygen compounds, halogen compounds, radioactive compounds and odors.
Air Pollution Contaminants in the air that interfere with human health or welfare, or produce other harmful environmental effects such as acid rain.
Air Toxics Any air pollutant for which a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) does not exist that may reasonably be anticipated to cause serious or irreversible chronic or acute health effects in humans.
Airborne Particulates Total suspended particulate matter found in the atmosphere as solid particles or liquid droplets.
Alternative Energy Typically environmentally friendly energy from a source other than the conventional fossil-fuel sources of oil, natural gas and coal. These include wind, water and sun.
Alternative fuels Fuels such as natural gas, methanol , bio fuels and electricity.
Ambient Air The surrounding air.
Aromatic A type of hydrocarbon, such as benzene or toluene, added to gasoline in order to increase octane. Some aromatics are toxic.
ASHRAE American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers.
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BACT -Best Available Control Technology An emission limitation based on the maximum degree of emission reduction (considering energy, environmental and economic impacts) achievable through application of production processes and available methods, systems and techniques mandated by the United States Clean Air Act. BACT does not permit emissions in excess of those allowed under any applicable Clean Air Act provisions.
Bake-out Process utilized in technology, fabrication and building construction using heat in an attempt to accelerate VOC emissions from materials.
Benefit/Cost Analysis An informal approach in assisting to assess the benefits and costs of achieving alternative standards at given levels of health protection.
Bioaccumulants Substances that increase in concentration in living organisms as they take in contaminated air, water or food because the substances are very slowly metabolized or excreted even if the concentration level of the toxic contaminant is very low.
Biocide Product typically used to kill microorganisms. Utilized in mold clean-up.
Biodegradable Material’s or substance’s which, when left exposed to nature, are broken down by the enzynes produced by living organisms without harmful effects on the environment.
Biodiversity A variation of life forms to include animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms. Is conducive to the development of all species.
Biofuel A solid, liquid or gaseous fuel such as methane produced from renewable biological resources such as plant biomass and treated municipal and industrial waste.
Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) A measure of the amount of oxygen consumed in the biological processes that break down organic matter in water. BOD is used as an indirect measure of the concentration of biologically degradable material present in organic wastes.
Biomass – A renewable energy source to include plant materials and animal waste used as a source of fuel.
Biosphere The ecosystem in which living organisms exist or that is capable of supporting life.
Blackwater Waste water containing urine and fecal matter.
Brownfields The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) designation for existing industrial and commercial facilities or sites that have been abandoned. These sites are typically contaminated with hazardous waste. Redevelopment is complicated due to the environmental contamination.
Building Envelope The exterior surface of a building's construction to include the walls, windows, roof and floor. Protects the indoor environment and climate.
Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) Energy conducive building materials incorporated into the design of a building or structure typically producing electricity.
Building-related Illness Diagnosable illness, typically of the respiratory system, whose cause and symptoms can be directly attributed to a specific pollutant source within a building. Sicknesses can include Legionnaire's disease, hypersensitivity, and pneumonitis
By-product Material, other than the principal product, generated as a consequence of an industrial process or as a breakdown product in a living system. Solid, liquid and gaseous waste are included.
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Carbon dioxide CO2 is a naturally occurring greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. However the amount of it increases when we burn fossil fuels, leading to global warming. Used widely as a measure of the ventilation adequacy of a space.
Carbon Footprint A measure of a particular item’s impact on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide.
Carbon Monoxide A colorless, odorless and toxic gas typically created during combustion of various materials.
Carbon neutral a company, person or action either not producing any carbon emissions or if it does they have been off-sett by another means.
Carbon offsetting The reduction of carbon emissions created by transportation and manufacturing. Offsetting is typically performed by purchasing carbon offsets. Examples include going to the open market. Paying to have trees planted, etc.
Carbon rationing Limiting the amount of carbon created annually.
Carbon sink Both natural and man-made. Accumulates carbon-containing products. Examples include the oceans, plants and landfills.
Carbon Tax A tax on emissions of coal, oil and natural gas. Its intent is to reduce the amount of emissions produced annually.
Carcinogen Any substance known to promote cancer.
Carrying Capacity: The amount of use an environmental area can sustain long-term without loss of quality.
Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) A measure of the oxygen required to oxidize all compounds, both organic and inorganic, in water.
Chlorinated Hydrocarbons These include a class of persistent, broad-spectrum insecticides that linger in the environment and accumulate in the food chain. Among them are DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, heptachlor, chlordane, lindane, endrin, mirex, hexachloride, and toxaphene. Other examples include TCE, used as an industrial solvent.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): Stable, man-made chemical compounds containing carbon, chlorine, fluorine and sometimes hydrogen. Chlorofluorocarbons, used primarily to facilitate cooling in refrigerators and air conditioners, have been found to deplete the stratospheric ozone layer which protects the earth and its inhabitants from excessive ultraviolet radiation.
Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) Created as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, CREBs are “tax credit bonds” in which interest is paid for by the Federal Government in the form of tax credit.
Climate Change The term "climate change" is sometimes used to refer to all forms of climatic inconsistency, but because the earth's climate is never static, the term is more properly used to imply a significant change from one climatic condition to another. In some cases, "climate change" has been used synonymously with the term "global warming"; scientists, however, tend to use the term in the wider sense to also include natural changes in climate.
Closed-loop Recycling When a used product is recycled into a similar product. Typical products consist of glass, metal and plastic.
Cogeneration The simultaneous generation of usable electricity and heat from the same fuel and/or energy source such as oil, coal, gas, biomass or solar.
Combustible A material having a flashpoint higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Comparative Risk Analysis An environmental decision-making tool used to systematically measure, compare and rank environmental problems or issue areas. The process typically focuses on the risks a problem poses to human health, the natural environment and quality of life, and results in a list (or lists) of issue areas ranked in terms of relative risk.
Composting A process whereby organic wastes, including food and paper, decompose naturally, resulting in a product rich in minerals and ideal for gardening and farming as a soil conditioner, mulch , resurfacing material, or landfill cover.
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) In 1980, CERCLA established a $1.6 billion fund, derived primarily from feedstock taxes on industry, to implement a massive environmental cleanup program over a five-year period. Generators were required to report to the EPA any facility at which hazardous wastes are, or have been, treated, stored, or disposed. The intent was to identify and clean up hazardous waste sites first, and then to litigate to recover costs. This law gave EPA strong powers to encourage private parties (PRPs) to clean up sites.
Concentration Amount of a material per unit volume.
Conservation Preserving and renewing, when possible, human and natural resources. The use, protection and improvement of natural resources according to principles that will ensure their highest economic or social benefits.
Contaminant A substance or matter that has an adverse effect on air, water or soil.
Contamination Introduction into water, air and soil of microorganisms, chemicals, toxic substances, wastes, or wastewater in a concentration that makes the medium unfit for its next intended use. Also applies to surfaces or objects and buildings, and various household and agricultural use products.
Co-products Materials that are intentionally, or incidentally, produced when producing a product.
Cradle-to-Cradle A term used in life-cycle analysis to describe a material or product that is recycled into a new product at the end of its defined life
Cradle-to-Grave or Manifest System A procedure in which hazardous materials are identified and followed as they are produced, treated, transported, and disposed of by a series of permanent, linkable, descriptive documents (e.g., manifests). Commonly referred to as the cradle-to-grave system.
Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM): A common measure of airflow.
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Deconstruction A process to carefully dismantle or remove useable materials from structures, as an alternative to demolition. It maximizes the recovery of valuable building materials for reuse and recycling and minimizes the amount of waste land-filled.
Deep-well Injection Deposition of raw or treated, filtered hazardous waste by pumping it into deep wells, where it is contained in the pores of permeable subsurface rock.
Demand-side Waste Management Process whereby consumers use purchasing decisions to communicate to product manufacturers that they prefer environmentally sound products packaged with the least amount of waste, made from recycled or recyclable materials, and containing no hazardous substances
Detergent Synthetic washing agent that helps to remove dirt and oil. Some contain compounds which kill useful bacteria and encourage algae growth when they are in wastewater that reaches receiving waters.
Disinfectant A chemical or physical process that kills pathogenic organisms in water. Chlorine is often used to disinfect sewage treatment effluent, water supplies, wells, and swimming pools.
Disposal Final placement or destruction of solid, liquid and hazardous wastes. Disposal may be accomplished through use of approved secure landfills, surface impoundments, land farming, deep-well injection, ocean dumping or incineration.
Dynamic Environmental Chamber Well-controlled system that utilizes realistic air flows for the assessment of chemical emissions from products and materials.
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Ecology A branch of science concerned with the interrelationship of organisms and their environment.
Ecosystem An interconnected and symbiotic grouping of animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms that sustains life through biological, geological and chemical activity.
Emissions cap A limit placed on companies regarding the amount of greenhouse gases they are permitted emit (see Carbon Offsetting).
Emission Controls Any measure that reduces emissions into air, water or soil. The most effective emission controls involve the redesign of the process so less waste is produced at the source.
Emission Factor Quantity of a substance released from a given area or mass of a material at a set point in time.
Emissions The release of gases, liquids and/or solids from any process or industry.
Energy Assessment An evaluation of your home or workplace with the aim of cutting your energy and water usage.
Enforcement EPA, state, or local legal actions to obtain compliance with environmental laws, rules, regulations, or agreements and/or obtain penalties or criminal sanctions for violations. Enforcement procedures may vary, depending on the requirements of different environmental laws and related implementing regulations. Under CERCLA, for example, EPA will seek to require potentially responsible parties to clean up a Superfund site, or pay for the cleanup, whereas under the Clean Air Act the agency may invoke sanctions against the cities failing to meet ambient air quality standards that could prevent certain types of construction or federal funding. In other situations, if investigations by EPA and state agencies uncover willful violations, criminal trials and penalties are sought.
Environment The sum of all external conditions affecting the life, development and survival of an organism.
Environmental Footprint 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.
Environmental Impact Any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from human activity, industry or natural disasters.
Environmentally Conscious Bag A multiple use carrier made from organic materials in order to substitute one time use bags.
Environmental Restoration The act of repairing damage to a site caused by human activity, industry or natural disasters.
Environmentally Preferable Product Products that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment. The product comparison may consider raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, or disposal. Environmentally Preferable Purchasing is a United States federal-wide program (Executive Order 13101) that encourages and assists Executive agencies in the purchasing of Environmentally Preferable Products and services.
Energy efficiency Technology that can reduce the amount of electricity or fuel used to do the same work.
Energy Efficient - Products and systems that reduce the amount of energy to perform as well or better than non-energy efficient products.
Energy saving lighting Lighting that utilizes far less energy than conventional lighting.
Energy Star Rating The label given by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to appliances and products that exceed federal energy efficiency standards. This label helps consumers identify products that will save energy and money.
Environmentally Friendly A term that refers to the degree to which a product may harm the environment, including the biosphere, soil, water and air.
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing The federal government requires the purchase of products or services that have the least negative effect on the environment and human health in consideration of the acquisition of raw materials, manufacturing methods, packaging, distribution, recyclability, operation, maintenance and final disposal.
Estuary A marine environment. A bay or inlet, often at the mouth of a river, in which large quantities of freshwater and seawater mix together. These areas are unique habitats for many marine fishes and shellfishes
Exposure Amount of pollution present in a given environment that represents a potential health threat to living organisms.
Extremely Hazardous Substances - Any of 406 chemicals identified by EPA as toxic, and listed under SARA Title III. The list is subject to periodic revision.
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Flammable A material having a flashpoint lower than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fly Ash A fine, glass-powder recovered from the gases of burning coal during the production of electricity. These micron-sized earth elements consist primarily of silica, alumina and iron. When mixed with lime and water the fly ash forms a cementitious compound with properties very similar to that of portland cement. Because of this similarity, fly ash can be used to replace a portion of cement in the concrete, providing some distinct quality advantages. The concrete is denser resulting in a tighter, smoother surface with less bleeding.
Fossil Fuel A fuel, such as coal, crude oil and natural gas, produced by the decomposition of ancient (fossilized) plants and animals.
Fuel cell A technology utilizing an electrochemical process to convert energy into electrical power.
Fungicide Pesticides that are used to control, deter or destroy fungi.
Fungus (Fungi) Molds, mildews, yeasts, mushrooms and puffballs; a group of organisms that are lacking in chlorophyll and usually non-mobile, filamentous and multicellular.
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Gas Chromatography Analytical process by which chemical mixtures are separated into individual components for quantitative and perhaps qualitative analysis.
Geothermal Energy Utilizing heat that is generated from the earth’s interior.
Global Warming A process that raises the air temperature in the lower atmosphere due to heat trapped by greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, CFCs and ozone. It can occur as the result of natural influences, but the term is most often applied to the warming predicted to occur as a result of human activities (i.e., emissions of greenhouse gases).
Green Architecture Green Architecture is a term used to describe economical, energy-saving, environmentally-friendly, sustainable development.
Green Building The practice of increasing the efficiency during the complete building life cycle. Focuses on how buildings use resources to include energy, water, and materials. Also reduces building impacts on the environment, through better sighting, design, construction, operation, and maintenance.
Green Business – A business or entity preparing a plan and taking action to reduce its environmental impact on its immediate area of concern.
Green Computing is the practice of developing techniques and systems for utilizing computing resources efficiently
Green Design Applying to sound principles of building, material and energy use in benefit of the environment.
Greenhouse Effect The warming of earth's surface and lower atmosphere as a result of carbon dioxide and water vapor in the atmosphere, which absorb and reradiate infrared radiation. An intensification of this warming effect brought about by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, resulting from the burning of fossil fuels.
Greenwash False information created by advertising, marketing and sales by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.
Greywater Non-industrial waste water that does not contain sewage or fecal contamination and typically generated from sinks, showers, dishwashers and laundry. Typically can be reused for irrigation after being run through a filtration system.
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Habitat The sum of the environmental conditions that determine the existence of a community in a specific place.
Halon Bromine-containing compounds with long atmospheric lifetimes whose breakdown in the stratosphere causes depletion of ozone. Halons are used in firefighting.
Hazard Evaluation A component of risk evaluation that involves gathering and evaluating data on the types of health injury or disease that may be produced by a chemical and on the conditions of exposure under which such health effects are produced.
Hazardous Air Pollutants Air pollutants which are not covered by ambient air quality standards but which, as defined in the Clean Air Act, may reasonably be expected to cause or contribute to irreversible illness or death. Such pollutants include asbestos, beryllium, mercury, benzene, coke oven emissions, radionuclides, and vinyl chloride.
Hazardous Chemical An EPA designation for any hazardous material requiring an MSDS under OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard. Such substances are capable of producing fires and explosions or adverse health effects like cancer and dermatitis. Hazardous chemicals are distinct from hazardous waste
Hazardous Waste By-products of society that can pose a substantial or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly managed. Possesses at least one of four characteristics (ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity), or appears on special EPA lists. Hazardous waste, because of its quantity, concentration, or physical, chemical, or infections characteristics may (1) cause or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible illness; or (2) pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, or disposed of, or otherwise managed. The EPA is responsible for regularly updating the lists of hazardous wastes.
Heavy Metals Metallic elements with high atomic weights, e.g., mercury, chromium, cadmium, arsenic, and lead; can damage living things at low concentrations and tend to accumulate in the food chain.
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) A wide range of household products, including pesticides and herbicides, oil-based paints and stains, automobile fluids (antifreeze, motor oil, transmission, steering and brake fluids, gasoline), batteries (automotive and household), pool chemicals, hobby chemicals, darkroom chemicals, and small quantities of asbestos, which have the characteristics of hazardous waste when discarded. Federal law specifically exempts household hazardous waste from regulation. Nevertheless, some local and state governments have implemented programs to educate the public about household hazardous waste and to operate waste collection programs.
Hydrocarbons (HC) Chemical compounds that consist entirely of carbon and hydrogen.
Hydroelectric energy Electric energy produced by the gravitational force of moving water.
Hydrofluorocarbons Utilized as solvents and cleaners in the manufacturing industry. Experts say they possess global warming potentials that are thousands of times greater than CO2.
Hydrophilic Having a strong affinity for water; attracting, dissolving in or absorbing water.
Hydrophobic Having a strong aversion to water; repelling water.
Hypersensitivity Exaggerated immune system response to an allergen.
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Ignitable Wastes - Liquids with a flashpoint below 60 degrees Centigrade, or solids capable of causing fire under standard temperature and pressure. Ignitable wastes are assigned an EPA Hazardous Waste No. D001.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) ASHRAE defines acceptable indoor air quality as air in which there are no known contaminants at harmful concentrations as determined by cognizant authorities and with which 80% or more people exposed do not express dissatisfaction
Industrial Source Reduction - Practices that reduce the amount of any hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant entering any waste stream or otherwise released into the environment. Also reduces the threat to public health and the environment associated with such releases. The term includes equipment or technology modifications, substitution of raw materials, and improvements in housekeeping, maintenance, training or inventory control.
Inorganics Being, or composed of matter other than plant or animal.
Integrated Waste Management The complementary use of a variety of practices to handle solid waste safely and effectively. Techniques include source reduction, recycling, composting, combustion and landfilling.
IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A scientific, intergovernmental UN-commissioned international working group. It assesses climate change and its human causes.
Irritant A substance that causes irritation of the skin, eyes, and/or respiratory system. Effects may be acute from a single high-level exposure, or chronic from repeated low-level exposures.
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Kilowatt-hours (kWH) - used to measure electricity and natural gas usage. Kyoto Protocol More than 160 nations met in Kyoto, Japan, to negotiate binding limitations on greenhouse gases for the developed nations, pursuant to the objectives of the Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992. The outcome of the meeting was the Kyoto Protocol, in which the developed nations agreed to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, relative to the levels emitted in 1990. The United States’ target is to reduce emissions from 1990 levels by 7 percent during the period 2008 to 2012.
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Landfill An area of land utilized for dumping both hazardous and nonhazardous wastes depending on type of permits obtained from regulatory agencies. Typically no liquids are allowed to be disposed of at landfills. Waste is typically disposed of in cells and covered with top cover in predetermined sections.
Large Quantity Generator -Person or facility generating more than 2200 pounds of hazardous waste per month. Such generators produce about 90 percent of the nation’s hazardous waste, and are subject to all RCRA requirements.
Leachate - Water that collects contaminants as it trickles through wastes, pesticides or fertilizers. Leaching may occur in farming areas, feed lots, and landfills, and may result in hazardous substances entering surface water, ground water, or soil.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Process developed to assess a product’s environmental costs, all encompassing starting with raw material up to the final disposal.
Life Cycle of a Product All stages of a product's development, from extraction of fuel for power to production, marketing, use and disposal method.
Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) An accounting of the energy and waste associated with the creation of a new product through use and disposal.
Lead (Pb) A heavy metal that is hazardous to health if inhaled and/or ingested. Its use in gasoline, paints, and plumbing compounds has been sharply restricted or eliminated by federal laws and regulations.
Life-Cycle Cost (LCC) The amortized annual cost of a product that includes first costs, but also extends to include installation, operating, maintenance and disposal costs over the product's lifetime.
Light Pollution - also known as photopollution or luminous pollution, is excessive or obtrusive artificial light.
Low Emission Vehicles Cars, light trucks and delivery vehicles designed to emit little pollution compared to conventional vehicles.
Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level (LOAEL) The lowest level of a stressor that causes statistically and biologically significant differences in test samples as compared to other samples subjected to no stressor.
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Mass Spectrum Characteristic fingerprint of a substance, which makes its identification possible.
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.
Medical Waste - Any solid waste generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in the production or testing of biologicals, excluding hazardous waste identified or listed under 40 CFR Part 261 or any household waste as defined in 40 CFR Subsection 261.4(b)(1).
Methane A colorless, nonpoisonous, flammable gas created by anaerobic decomposition of organic compounds.
Microbial Growth The amplification or multiplication of microorganisms such as bacteria, algae, diatoms, plankton and fungi.
Microbiological Organism Broad range of living organisms, which typically can be viewed only through a microscope.
Micron A measure of length; one millionth of a meter.
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National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) Standards established by the EPA that apply to outdoor air throughout the country.
Natural Building Places major emphasis on sustainability. It tends to focus on the use of natural, renewable resources and materials that are available locally.
Nitric Oxide (NO) A gas formed by combustion under high temperature and high pressure in an internal combustion engine, and then converted by sunlight and photochemical processes in ambient air to nitrogen oxide. Nitric oxide is a precursor of ground-level ozone pollution, or smog.
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) The result of photochemical reactions of nitric oxide in ambient air. It is a major component of photochemical smog, a product of combustion from transportation and stationary sources, and a major contributor to the formation of ozone in the lower atmosphere and to acid deposition.
No Observable Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) An exposure level at which there are no statistically or biologically significant increases in the frequency or severity of adverse effects between the exposed population and its appropriate control; some effects may be produced at this level, but they are not considered as adverse, or as precursors to adverse effects.
Nonrenewable A finite resource.
Nonrenewable Energy Energy derived from depletable fuels such as oil, gas and coal created through lengthy geological processes and existing in limited quantities on the earth.
Nonrenewable Resource A resource such as oil, gas and coal that cannot be replaced in the environment because it forms at a rate far slower than its consumption.
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Odor Threshold The minimum odor of a water or air sample that can just be detected after successive dilutions with odorless water. Also referred to as "threshold odor."
Oil Spill - An accidental or intentional discharge of oil which reaches bodies of water. Can be controlled by chemical dispersion, combustion, mechanical containment, and/or adsorption. Spills from tanks and pipelines can also occur away from water bodies, contaminating the soil, getting into sewer systems and threatening underground water sources.
Open-loop Recycling A recycling system in which a product made from one type of material is recycled into a different type of product such as used newspapers into toilet paper.
Organic Compound Vast array of substances typically characterized as principally carbon and hydrogen, but that may also contain oxygen, nitrogen and a variety of other elements as structural building blocks.
OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Ozone (O3) A naturally occurring, highly reactive, irritating gas comprising triatomic oxygen formed by recombination of oxygen in the presence of ultraviolet radiation. This gas builds up in the lower atmosphere as smog pollution, while in the upper atmosphere it forms a protective layer that shields the earth and its inhabitants from excessive exposure to damaging ultraviolet radiation.
Ozone Depletion Destruction of the earth's ozone layer, which can be caused by the photolytic breakdown of certain chlorine- and/or bromine-containing compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons,which catalytically decompose ozone molecules.
Ozone Hole A thinning break in the ozone layer. Designation of amount of such depletion as an "ozone hole" is made when the detected amount of depletion exceeds 50 percent. Seasonal ozone holes have been observed over the Antarctic and arctic regions, part of Canada, and the extreme northeastern United States.
Ozone Layer The protective layer in the atmosphere, about 12-15 miles above sea level, that absorbs some of the sun's ultraviolet rays, thereby reducing the amount of potentially harmful radiation that reaches the earth's surface.
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Particulate Fine dust or particles (i.e., smoke). Of or relating to minute discrete particles. A particulate substance.
Particulate Pollution Pollution made up of small liquid or solid particles suspended in the atmosphere or water supply.
Pathogens Microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses or parasites that can cause disease in humans, animals and plants.
Petroleum Crude oil or any fraction thereof that is liquid under normal conditions of temperature and pressure. The term includes petroleum-based substances comprising a complex blend of hydrocarbons derived from crude oil through the process of separation, conversion, upgrading and finishing, such as motor fuel, jet oil, lubricants, petroleum solvents and used oil.
Photochemical Oxidants Air pollutants formed by the action of sunlight on oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons.
Photochemical Smog Air pollution caused by chemical reactions of various pollutants emitted in the presence of sunlight.
Photovoltaic Panels Solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity. Power is produced when sunlight strikes the semiconductor material and creates an electrical current.
Plastic A wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic amorphous solid materials suitable for the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular weight, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce costs.
Plastic Recycling is the process of recovering scrap or waste plastics and reprocessing the material into useful products, sometimes completely different in form from their original state. For instance, this could mean melting down soft drink bottles then casting them as plastic chairs and tables.
Point Source - A stationary location or fixed facility from which pollutants are discharged; any single identifiable source of pollution, e.g., a pipe, ditch, ship, ore pit, factory smokestack.
Pollution Generally, the presence of a substance in the environment that, because of its chemical composition or quantity, prevents the functioning of natural processes and produces undesirable environmental and health effects.
Pollution Prevention Techniques that eliminate waste prior to treatment, such as changing ingredients in a chemical reaction. Identifying areas, processes and activities that create excessive waste products or pollutants in order to reduce or prevent them through alteration or elimination of a process.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) - A tough, environmetally indestructible plastic that releases hydrochloric acid when burned.
Post-Consumer - A material or finished product that served its intended use as a consumer item.
Post-consumer Material Any household or commercial product that has served its original, intended use. It may be recycled and incorporated into building materials.
Post-consumer Recycle Content A product composition that contains some percentage of material that has been reclaimed from the same or another end use at the end of its former, useful life.
Post Consumer Waste Waste collected after the consumer has used and disposed of it.
Post-industrial Material Industrial manufacturing scrap or waste produced during the manufacturing process. Also called pre-consumer material
ppb Parts per billion.
ppm Parts per million.
Pre-consumer Recycle Content A product composition that contains some percentage of manufacturing waste material that has been reclaimed from a process generating the same or a similar product.
Pyrolysis Chemical decomposition of a chemical by extreme heat.
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Rapidly Renewable Materials that are not depleted when used, but are typically harvested from fast growing sources and do not require unnecessary chemical support. Examples include bamboo, flax, wheat, wool and certain types of wood.
Reclamation Restoration and separation of materials found in waste. Utilized as a beneficial product that may be other than the original use.
Recycling Symbol An internationally-recognized symbol used to designate recyclable materials. It is composed of three chasing arrows. The three arrows on the symbol represent different components of the recycling process. The top arrow represents the collection of recyclable materials. The second arrow (bottom right) represents the recyclables being processed into recycled products and the third arrow on the bottom left represents when the consumer actually buys a product with recycled content.
Recyclability The ability of a product or material to be recovered or otherwise diverted from the solid waste stream for the purpose of recycling.
Recycled/Recovered Materials - Waste materials and by-products that have been recovered or diverted from solid waste but do not include those materials and by-products generated from and commonly reused within an original manufacturing process.
Recycling Process by which materials that would otherwise become solid or liquid waste are collected, separated or processed and returned to the economic mainstream to be reused in the form of raw materials or finished goods.
Recycling Processing used materials into new products in order to prevent waste of potentially useful materials,
Refuse Derived Fuel Fuel produced by shredding municipal solid waste (MSW) or steam pressure treating in an autoclave. RDF consists largely of organic components of municipal waste such as plastics and biodegradable waste.
Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Database of toxicity information.
Relative Humidity Ratio of the amount of water vapor in air at a specific temperature to the maximum capacity of the air at that temperature.
Release - Any spilling, leaking, pumping, pouring, emitting, emptying, discharging, injecting, escaping, leaching, dumping, or disposing into the environment of a hazardous or toxic chemical or extremely hazardous substance.
Renewable Energy Energy harvested from sources that are not depleted when used, typically causing very low environmental impact. Examples include solar energy, hydroelectric power and wind power.
Renewable Resources A resource that can be replenished at a rate equal to or greater than its rate of depletion; i.e., solar, wind, geothermal and biomass resources.
Remanufacturing - A recycling concept by which an existing product can have its useful life extended through a secondary manufacturing or refurbishing process. It requires the repair or replacement of worn out or obsolete components and modules.
Remediation - Cleanup or other methods used to remove or contain a toxic spill or hazardous material from a Superfund site; 2. For the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response program, abatement methods including evaluation, repair, enclosure, encapsulation, or removal of greater than 3 linear feet or square feet of asbestos-containing materials from a building.
Resource Conservation Practices that protect, preserve or renew natural resources in a manner that will ensure their highest economic or social benefits.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) - The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 provided for a significant federal role in the management of hazardous waste. Adopted as a series of amendments to the Solid Waste Act of 1965, RCRA set up a separate Office of Solid Waste within the EPA. This office was charged with establishing a comprehensive regulatory program ranging from identifying which wastes are hazardous to establishing a manifest system for tracking wastes. A major consequence of RCRA was to hold generators responsible for the wastes they produced from "cradle to grave." Under the cradle-to-grave concept, a generator of hazardous waste could no longer avoid liability by contracting with a third party to dispose of the waste. Even if it could be shown that the waste was mishandled through the actions of a third party, the original generator would remain liable for improper disposal. This forced generators to be very careful in the selection of the disposal companies they utilize.
Respirable Particles or aerosols capable of being inhaled into the deep lung, < 3 microns in diameter.
Reuse Using a product or component of municipal solid waste in its original form more than once or until it is time to recycle.
Risk A measure of the probability of an adverse effect on a population under a well-defined exposure scenario.
Risk Factor Characteristics (i.e., race, sex, age, obesity) or variables (i.e., smoking, occupational exposure level) associated with increased probability of a toxic effect.
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Sanitary Sewers Underground pipes that carry off only domestic or industrial waste, but not storm water.
Sanitary Survey An on-site review of the water sources, facilities, equipment, operation and maintenance of a public water system to evaluate the adequacy of those elements for producing and distributing safe drinking water.
Sanitary Water Water discharged from sinks, showers, kitchens or other nonindustrial operations, but not from commodes.
Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) An independent testing and certification organization who evaluates a wide variety of food safety and environmental claims. The company's environmental division certifies a wide variety of claims related to environmental achievement in the product manufacturing and natural resource extraction sectors. Specific product attributes, such as recycled content and biodegradability, may be certified under the environmental claims certification program. SCS can also certify more holistic claims of environmental preferability considering the full product life-cycle.
Sharps - Hypodermic needles, syringes (with or without the attached needle), Pasteur pipettes, scalpel blades, blood vials, needles with attached tubing, and culture dishes used in animal or human patient care or treatment, or in medical, research or industrial laboratories. Also included are other types of broken or unbroken glassware that were in contact with infectious agents, such as used slides and cover slips, and unused hypodermic and suture needles, syringes, and scalpel blades.
Sick Building Syndrome A building whose occupants experience acute health and/or comfort affects that appear to be linked to time spent therein, but where no specific illness or cause can be identified. Complaints may be localized in a particular room or zone, or may spread throughout the building and may abate on leaving the building.
Small Quantity Generator (SQG -- sometimes referred to as "Squeegee") - Persons or enterprises that produce 220 - 2200 pounds per month of hazardous waste; are required to keep more records than conditionally exempt generators. The largest category of hazardous waste generators, SQGs include automotive shops, dry cleaners, photographic developers, and a host of other small businesses. (See: Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators).
Solar Energy - Is one the most resourceful sources of energy for the future. One of the reasons for this is that the total energy we receive each year from the sun is around 35,000 times the total energy used by man. However, about 1/3 of this energy is either absorbed by the outer atmosphere or reflected back into space.
Solar Heating Heat from the sun is absorbed by collectors and transferred by pumps or fans to a storage unit for later use or to the house interior directly. Controls regulating the operation are needed. The heat can be transferred to water pumps for hot water.
Solid Waste - Non-liquid, non-soluble materials ranging from municipal garbage to industrial wastes that contain complex and sometimes hazardous substances. Solid wastes also include sewage sludge, agricultural refuse, demolition wastes, and mining residues. Technically, solid waste also refers to liquids and gases in containers.
Source Reduction The design, manufacture, purchase or use of materials to reduce the amount or toxicity of waste in an effort to reduce pollution and conserve resources (i.e., reusing items, minimizing the use of products containing hazardous compounds, extending the useful life of a product and reducing unneeded packaging). Practices that reduce the amount of any hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant entering any waste stream or otherwise being released into the environment. Such practices also reduce the risk to public health and the environment associated with such releases. Term includes equipment or technology modifications, substitution of raw materials, and improvements in housekeeping, maintenance, training or inventory control.
Special Waste - Items such as household hazardous waste, bulky wastes (refrigerators, pieces of furniture, etc.), tires, and used oil.
Stack Effect Flow of air resulting from warm air rising, creating a positive pressure area at the top of a building and negative pressure area at the bottom. This effect can overpower the mechanical system and disrupt building ventilation and air circulation.
Sterilizer One of three groups of antimicrobials registered by the EPA for public health uses. The EPA considers an antimicrobial to be a sterilizer when it destroys or eliminates all forms of bacteria, viruses, and fungi and their spores. Because spores are considered the most difficult form of microorganism to destroy, the EPA considers the term "sporicide" to be synonymous with "sterilizer."
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2 ) A heavy, smelly gas that can be condensed into a clear liquid; used to make sulfuric acid, bleaching agents, preservatives and refrigerants; a major source of air pollution in industrial areas.
Sustainability Practices that would ensure the continued viability of a product or practice well into the future.
Sustainable Design – Art of designing physical objects and the built environment to comply with the economic, environmental, and social principles. Sustainable Development An approach to progress that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Sustainable Green Certified Business – A business or entity adhering to a third party program developed to reduce their environmental impact.
Switchgrass Warm season grass and is one of the dominant species of the central North American tall grass prairie. Switchgrass can be found in remnant prairies, along roadsides, pastures and as an ornamental plant in gardens.
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Thermal Pollution The addition of heat to a body of water that may change the ecological balance
Threshold Limit Value (TLV) The concentration of an airborne substance to which an average person can be repeatedly exposed without adverse effects. TLVs may be expressed in three ways: TLV-TWA-Time-weighted average, based on an allowable exposure averaged over a normal 8-hour workday or 40-hour workweek. TLV-STEL-Short-term exposure limit, or maximum concentration for a brief specified period of time, depending on a specific chemical (TWA must still be met). TLV-C-Ceiling exposure limit, or maximum exposure concentration not to be exceeded under any circumstances (TWA must still be met).
Tipping Fee Charge for the unloading or dumping of waste at a recycling facility, composting facility, landfill, transfer station or waste-to-energy facility.
Total Environmental Impact (TEI) Index A tool developed and used by INVISTA Antron. Much broader than the traditional industrial measures of raw material consumption and emissions, the Total Environmental Impact (TEI) Index includes value recovery of waste materials, and has a measure of societal impact: e.g., injuries and illnesses to employees and contractors; incidents like fires, explosions, accidental releases to the environment, and transportation incidents; global waste and emissions; and use of depletable raw materials and energy. The TEI Index was created using internal INVISTA studies in North America rationalized with published studies done by Boustead in Brussels and Potting & Blok in the Netherlands.
Total Volatile Organic Compounds The total mass, typically in milligrams per cubic meter, of the organic compounds collected in air.
Toxic Capable of having an adverse effect on an organism; poisonous; harmful or deadly
Toxic Chemical - Any chemical listed in EPA rules as "Toxic Chemicals Subject to Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986."
Toxic Chemical Use Substitution - Replacing toxic chemicals with less harmful chemicals in industrial processes.
Tire Derived Fuel Burning tires for use as energy at a fully licensed and permitted tire incineration facility.
Total Environmental Impact (TEI) The total change on the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from human activity, industry or natural disasters.
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Upcycling A term coined to describe the creation of a product with higher intrinsic value, manufactured from a material at the end of its service life, which had a lower initial end use value. It is important to note that the term as currently used, does not provide insight into environmental benefit (e.g. there may actually be less environmental benefit to upcycling if energy used to upcycle is more than recycling back to the same product).
U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) The United States foremost coalition of leaders from across the building industry working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work.
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Ventilation Process by which outside air is conveyed to an indoor space.
Vermicompost, or Vcompost, is the heterogenous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and pure vermicast produced during the course of normal vermiculture operations. Vermicast, similarly known as worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by some species of earthworm.
Volatile - Any substance that evaporates readily.
Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Organic substances capable of entering the gas phase from either a liquid or solid form.
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Waste to Energy Burning of industrial waste to provide steam, heat or electricity. Sometimes referred to as waste-to-fuel process.
Wind Power Is another alternative energy source that could be used without producing by-products that are harmful to nature. Like solar power, harnessing the wind is highly dependent upon weather and location. The average wind velocity of Earth is around 9 m/sec. And the power that could be produced when a wind mill is facing the wind of 10 mi/hr. is around 50 watts.
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