Global Green Building
Glossary of Terms

Terms listed below are shortened definitions of terms or phrases you will hear in the green building industry, as well as find on this website.

For more information on these and other terms contact us at 417-725-0111
Active Solar:  Energy that is derived directly from the energy of the suns rays
Air to Air Heat Pump: Transferes heat in the winter from outside air into the structure using a compressor-The process is reversed in the summer.  These systems have upper and lower temperature limits of efficiency.  
Alternate Energy Source:   Any energy source outside the electric grid
Backup Heat:  In a typical heat pump the electrical heating elements that are used when the heat pump cannot take enough heat from the air outside  
British Thermal Unit (BTU):   Factor used to measure the amount of energy used for heating and cooling
Cistern:   Storage for water from runoff, usually found underground
Closed Loop:  A unit that recirculates a substance such as water for heating and cooling in a sealed system 
Coefficient of Performance:  A measure of efficiency in a Heating, Ventilation and Cooling (HVAC) system
Control Dampers:  Valves that control air flow in a typical Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) system
Daylight Analysis:   The amount of  daylight in a given space
Department of Energy (DOE):  The United States agency that deals with policy and research on energy
Department of Natural Resources (DNR):  Governmental agency responsible for regulating and protecting the natural resources held by the United States
Eco Design:  Designs that are environmentally friendly, energy efficient, and sustainable
Energy Efficient:  Any product that uses less energy than the a conventional product that it would replace
Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV's):  A device that uses exhausted air to heat or cool fresh air from outside using a heat exchanger to make ventilation more efficient 
Energy Star Rated:   Department of Energy rating for efficient appliances, building products and homes
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):  The main regulatory agency of the United States government regarding environmental issues
Exchanges:  The number of times the entire volume of air in a structure is replaced with fresh air from outside
Geothermal Energy:  Energy that comes from the stable temperature of the ground 
Green Building:  Building that is aimed at energy conservation, saving natural resources, and preserving the environment
Green Developing:  A building development or built environment that recognizes and utilizes building alternatives which conserve energy and preserve the environment
Ground Source Heat Pump:  Transferes heat in the winter from the ground into a structure using a compressor-The process is reversed in the summer 
Heat Gain: The amount of heat that penitrates a structure and is radiated into the living space-generally considered a cooling problem
Heat Loss: The amount of heat that escapes from a structure-generally considered a heating problem 
Heat Sink:  In thermodynamics, the place where energy is wasted or stored for disposal 
Heat Transfer:  When heat or cool is moved from one substance to another by direct or indirect contact
Hydroelectric:  Electric power generated from moving water
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ):  A department within the EPA that deals with issues related to indoor air quality
Karst Topography:  An area of irregular limestone inwhich errosion has produced fisures, sinkholes, underground streams and caverns
Kilowatts:  An electric unit of measure-one thousand watts
LEED:  Established by the US Green Building Council, a set of building standards aimed to improve energy efficiency, and environmental aspects and sustainability of the built envirnment.  Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)  This process establishes building credits and leads to a certification for the project               
LEED Certified:  The LEED process has been followed and achieved in the building process
Low Head:  The distance or amount of drop that water has to fall in a small hydroelectric generation facility-The distance is typically less than twenty feet
Low Impact Development (LID):  A development that has less impact on the environment than a traditional development
Low Voltage System:  Any electrical system that uses less than the standard 120 volts for power
Low Volume:  Hydoelectric term defining low gallons per minute used
Open Loop:  A unit that uses a substance such as water for heating and cooling and then discards the substance back to the environment
Ozone:  A blue gas formed from oxygen with an odor like clorine formed from an electrical discharge in the air- this forms the protective layer of the atmosphere that block much of the radiation from the sun
Ozone Friendly:  Systems, processes or products that do not deplete the ozone layer
Particulate Matter:  Small parts of matter that are easily made airborne
Passive Solar:  The indirect use of the sun's energy
Payback Period: The period of time required after the purchase of a product to balance the added expense with the potential savings
Perk Test:  A measure of how quickly a fluid moves through the ground
Photovoltaic:  A direct convertion of the suns rays into electric power
Radiant Floor Systems:  A closed loop system which regulates the temperature of a space by radiating thermal energy through the floor
Runoff:  The unabsorbed water that flows with gravity after rain               
Sink Hole:  A feature of Karst topography that causes a surface hole to form from the subsurface due to  cavern collapses, disolved rock, and changing water tables
Solar Energy:  Energy created from the sun
Solar Radiation:  Energy from the sun in the form of light rays and heat
Subsurface Storage:  Underground storage for water or energy
Supplimental Heat:  Backup heat
Supply Air:  The total air that is supplied to the heating and cooling unit from both outside and return air inside the building
Sustainable Building:  A building that is designed to co-exist in the environment, use energy wisely and remain viable
The Grid:  Electrical systems that are interconnected 
Thermal Mass:  The ability to store and radiate thermal energy based on size, area, and weight  
Tight Building:  A Building that has very low outside air infiltration during the normal operation or use
US Green Building Council (USGBC):  A private organization dedicated to promoting green building around the world
Ventilation Rates:  the flow rate of outside air used in a heating and cooling system.  Measured by cubic feet per minute per person or by number of exchanges per hour or per day
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's):  Compounds that are derived from organic and chemical processes which have low vapor pressure and can continue to leach from products for years   
Water Retention Basin:  A place for temporary storage of water from runoff
Water Shed:  The entire drainage area that flows to the lowest point at a single location 
Water Table:  The ground depth where water is present
Watts:  A unit of power that measures electrical current equal to one joule per second
Zero Energy:  A structure or product that generates as much energy to the grid as it uses from the grid
Zero Impact:  A process that has no negative environmental impact
Zoned Systems:  Heating Ventilating and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems which control by area how much conditioned air is provided