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Green construction - Sustainable development terms
Category: Earth and Environment > Sustainable development
Date & country: 10/11/2007, UK
Words: 350

Earth Berming
See – Earth sheltering

Earth construction
Construction incorporating earth as a material. See - Adobe and Rammed earth.

Earth sheltering
Building below ground level; an earth-sheltered structure provides an interior climate which is generally closer to comfort level than a conventional interior space. Savings on heating and cooling bills are often in the range of 40-60%.

Earth Summit
International meetings, every 5 years, organised by United Nations to discuss and try to offer solutions to the problems of development and environmental issues, beginning 1992 in Rio de Janeiro.

Being centred on the natural environment as a starting point for understanding.

The delivery of competitively priced goods and services while, at the same time, reducing ecological impacts and resource use throughout the product life cycle.

A development or decision which results in a beneficial effect on the environment or at least not causing environmental damage.

Information (typically provided on a label attached to a product) informing a potential consumer of a product's characteristics, or of the production or processing method(s) used in its production.

The system of interactions between living organisms and their environment.

A tax on pollution, eg. the Swedish Carbon Tax on the use of fossil fuels to help reduce carbon emissions.

Design philosophy and methodologies that promote a material and social ethic of care for the products and processes which are designed, so that full life cycle considerations and social impacts are integrated into the design of the product or process.

A house which has systems attempting to minimise negative effects on the environment such as insulation, solar panels, recycled rain water.

Ecological cost
The total impact on the environment including source depletion, pollution and degradation of habitats.

Ecological deficit
The amount by which the ecological footprint of a country or region exceeds the biological capacity of the space available

Ecological footprint
See – Environmental footprint

The study of how living things affect each other, and how they are affected by their environment.

Economies of Density
Generally, economies wherein unit costs are lower in relation to population density. The higher the population density, the lower the likely costs of infrastructure required to provide a service. One example would be the costs associated with providing electricity networks to urban vs rural areas.

Economies of Scale
In many cases, the bigger a company gets, the cheaper it is able to produce or distribute each additional unit. Generally, this is because some costs of production do not increase with each unit. These fixed costs are effectively averaged out over the cost of each unit, so that each unit produced reduces the average.

Economies of Scope
A situation in which one company can produce or distribute two or more different goods more cheaply than if the goods were made by different companies.

A dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment, interacting as a functional unit.

Edible landscaping
Landscaping containing vegetation which is cultivated for its ability to be eaten and digested by humans, for example, fruit trees.

The amount of light output (lumen) per watt of input electricity to a lamp.

Embedded Generation
See - Distributed generation.

Embodied energy
All the energy required to grow, harvest, extract, manufacture, refine, process, package, transport, install and dispose of a particular product or building material. The energy used during the entire life cycle of a commodity i.e. manufacture, transportation and disposal.

End-of-pipe technology
A technology designed to control pollution from another node or geographical point, generally installed at the point of emission.

Energy Conservation
Using less energy, irrespective of whether the benefits increase, decrease or stay the same.

Energy efficiency
The more efficient use of energy in order to reduce economic costs and environmental impacts. Using less energy/electricity to perform the same function

Energy efficiency ratio (EER)
Ratio of net cooling capacity of an air conditioner per hour to total rate of electric input under designated operating conditions.

Energy recovery ventilator (ERV)
An air to air heat exchanger or preconditioner, designed to reduce the energy required to heat or cool required outdoor air in mechanical ventilation systems by as much as 80%. These products exchange temperature and moisture properties from one air stream to another. The result is capturing the cooling or heating energy from the exhaust air before it leaves the building.

Energy Services
The provision of energy supply and measures concerned with end-use in a single package.

Energy services company (ESCO)
Companies concerned with maximising efficient and cost-effective supply and end-use of energy for their customers. This can encompass a mixture of the following as appropriate; competitive purchasing of various fuels; CHP; end-use efficiency measures; consumption monitoring and management and others.

Engineered wood
Reconstituted wood products that result in strength appropriate for a given use and consistent quality with less material.

Environmantal tax
A tax that is of major relevance for the environment, regardless of its specific purpose or name.

Environmental education
The process of recognising values and clarifying concepts in order to develop the skills and attitudes necessary to understand and appreciate the inter-relatedness among people, their culture and biological and physical surroundings.

Environmental footprint
A measure of environmental impact based on thee distance that resources for a development are transported.

Environmental impact
The environmental consequences of land or site development.

Environmental sustainability
Satisfying the needs of the present without diminishing the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

The process by which a body of water accumulates nutrients, particularly nitrates and phosphates. This process can be accelerated by nutrient-rich runoff or seepage from agricultural land or from sewage outfalls, leading to rapid and excessive growth of algae and aquatic plants and undesirable changes in water quality.

Evaporative cooling
A physical phenomenon in which evaporation of a liquid, typically into surrounding air, cools an object or a liquid in contact with it. Latent heat describes the amount of heat that is needed to evaporate the liquid; this heat comes from the liquid itself and the surrounding gas and surfaces. The greater the difference between the wet and dry bulb temperature, the greater the evaporative cooling effect.

The process by which the Earth's surface or soil loses moisture by evaporation of water, and by uptake and then transpiration from plants.

Existence value
The value to an individual of knowing that a particular environmental or cultural asset exists, independent of any use that the person may make of the asset.

Extended detention basin
A detention basin in which the runoff is stored beyond the time normally required for attenuation. This provides extra time for natural processes to remove some of the pollutants in the water.

Extended producer responsibility
An approach to reconcile economic growth with greater business responsibility for conserving resources and energy, and reducing pollution and waste. An obligation placed on one or more producers of a product to take back the product for recycling or safe disposal.

Factor Four
The idea that resource productivity should be quadrupled so that wealth is doubled, and resource use is halved.

Factor Ten
The idea that per capita material flows from rich countries need to be reduced by 90% to hit the Factor Four target because they are responsible for five times as much resource use as Southern countries.

Fair Trade
Occurs when manufacturers agree to fair return to raw material producers; a return above that which the market would normally impose, and above poverty levels.

Architectural term for windows and their placement.

Filter drain
A linear drain consisting of a trench filled with a permeable material, often with a perforated pipe in the base of the trench to assist drainage, to store and conduct water, but may also be designed to permit infiltration.

Filter strip
A vegetated area of gently sloping ground designed to drain water evenly off impermeable areas and filter out silt and other particulates.

The act of removing sediment or other particles from a fluid by passing it through a filter.

First flush
The initial runoff from a site or catchment following the start of a rainfall event. As runoff travels over a catchment it will pick up or dissolve pollutants and the first flush portion of the flow may be the most contaminated as a result.

Flood estimation handbook (FEH)
Produced by Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford (formerly the Institute of Hydrology)

Flood frequency
The probability of a flowrate being equalled or exceeded in any year.

Flood routeing
Design and consideration of above-ground areas that act as pathways permitting water to run safely over land to minimise the adverse effect of flooding. This is required when the design capacity of the drainage system has been exceeded.

Land adjacent to a watercourse that would be subject to repeated flooding under natural conditions.

Flow control device
A device used to manage the movement of surface water into and out of an attenuation facility, eg a weir.

Fly ash
Ash residue from high-temperature combustion processes; can be used for fill material, soil stabilisation and waste remediation. Electric power plants using western coal produce a non-toxic fly ash which can substitute for a portion of portland cement in concrete, to produce a strong, durable concrete. See - Pozzolan

Food Miles
The number of miles food produce travels from ‘plough to plate`, that is from the place of production to consumption.

Footprint of cities
The amount of land and/or resources used by a city, increasingly considered on a global rather than local or national scale.

Fossil fuel
A naturally occurring fuel rich in carbon and hydrogen formed by the decomposition of prehistoric organisms.

Created in 2001, FTSE4GOOD indexes are a range of socially responsible stock exchange indexes included in the FTSE index

Genuine progress indicator
This measures real personal consumption spending, adjusts for income distribution, then adds or subtracts to reflect ecological and social benefits or costs.

A variety of fabrics made from recycled materials used in soil containment and stabilisation.

Geothermal energy
Literally, the heat of the earth. Where this heat occurs close to the earth's surface, and is able to maintain a temperature in the surrounding rock or water at or above 150 degrees C, it may be tapped to drive steam turbines.

Global economy
Refers to the emerging international economy characterised by free trade in goods and services, unrestricted capital flows and weakened national powers to control domestic economies.

Global hectare
One hectare of biologically productive space adjusted to world average biomass productivity allowing meaningful comparisons across regions to be made.

Global warming
An increase in the near surface temperature of the earth; global warming is most often used to refer to the warming predicted to occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases.

Global Warming Potential (GWP)
Anumerical index that allows effects on global warming of various greenhouse gases to be compared, using the 100 year GWP of carbon dioxide as a reference point. Carbon dioxide has a GWP of 1, methane has a GWP of 21; the GWP`s of various hydrofluorocarbons range from 140 - 11,700.

The process enabling financial and investment markets to operate internationally, largely as a result of deregulation and improved communications. Transnational companies have both helped the process and benefited from it.

Granting an existing firm a legal exemption from a new or changed policy. In the case of tradable permits, it refers to the common practice of allocating permits to existing polluters or users of natural resources at no direct cost to them.

Green roof
A roof with plants growing on its surface contributing to local biodiversity. The vegetated surface provides a degree of retention, attenuation and treatment of rainwater, and promotes evapotranspiration.

Area of land often encircling a city, with extra planning restraints on development; undeveloped land. The term was first used in London in the 1940s.

Greenfield runoff
This is the surface water runoff regime from a site before development, or the existing site conditions for brownfield redevelopment sites.

Greenhouse effect
The roles of water vapour, carbon dioxide, and other trace gases in keeping the Earth's surface warmer than it would be otherwise; they trap long wave radiation, which would otherwise escape to space, within the lower levels of the atmosphere; the subsequent reradiation of some of the energy back to the surface maintains surface temperatures higher than they would be if the gases were absent. This process occurs naturally and has kept the earth's temperature about 12oC warmer than it would otherwise be; current life on earth could not be sustained without the natural greenhouse effect. However, increased emissions of greenhouse gases may increase the surface temperature of the earth with potentially serious consequences.

Greenhouse gases
Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxides, halogenated fluorocarbons (HCFCs), ozone (O3), perfluorinated carbons (PFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

To falsely claim a product is environmentally sound, or to unfoundedly bolster a product, or structures, environmental credentials. Also known as faux greening.

Water from sinks and baths that may be reused for watering, landscaping and other domestic purposes, before it reaches the sewer (or septic tank system); usually water that has been used for showering, clothes washing, and bathing.

GRI (Global Reporting Initiative)
A multi-stakeholder process and independent institution whose mission is to develop and disseminate globally applicable Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.

Ground source heat pump
See – Heat pumpS

Water that is below the surface of ground in the saturation zone.

Habitat II
United Nations Conference to discuss issues and problems faced by cities, the first being 1996 in Istanbul

Hazardous waste
A substance that is potentially damaging to the environment and harmful to humans and other living organisms.

Heat island effect
The rise in ambient temperature that occurs over large built up and paved areas. Strategic placement of trees can reduce this effect and reduce energy consumption for cooling by 15-30%.

Heat pump
A mechanical device used for heating and cooling which operates by pumping heat from a cooler to a warmer location. Heat pumps can draw heat from a number of sources, e.g., air water or earth and are classified as either air, water or ground source units.

Heat recovery ventilator
Exhaust fans that warm the incoming air with the heat from the outgoing air, recovering about 50-70% of the energy. In hot climates the function is reversed so that the cooler inside air passes by the incoming hot air and reduces its temperature.

Heat transfer
The transfer of heat is normally from a high temperature object to a lower temperature object. Heat transfer changes the internal energy of both systems involved according to the First Law of Thermodynamics.

Heavy metal
A high-atomic-weight metal such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, mercury and uranium. Heavy metals can be toxic to plants or animals in relatively low concentrations and tend to accumulate in living tissue.

High density housing
Accommodation housing a large number of people in a small spatial area; often high rise to maximise ground space.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
See - polyethylene.

Highway drain
A conduit draining the highway. On a highways maintainable at the public expense it is vested in the highway authority.

Holistic education
Education that seeks to develop the whole person and which promotes active global citizenship and environmental responsibility.

Human capital<-a>
The knowledge, skills, competence and attributes embodied in individuals that facilitate the attainment of personal well-being

Hydrochlorfluorocarbon (HCFC)
Hydrochlorfluorocarbons or hydrogenated chlorofluorocarbons are used as a substitute for CFCs, as they are less destructive to ozone, although less efficient as refrigerants and sometimes quite toxic.

Hydroflourocarbon (HFC)
A compound consisting of hydrogen, fluorine and carbon. HFCs do not deplete stratospheric ozone, but they have global warming potentials anywhere from 90 to 12 000 times that of carbon dioxide.

A graph illustrating changes in the rate of flow from a catchment with time

The study of water and its properties, including its distribution and movement in and through the land areas.

Hydrology of soil types (HOST)
A classification used to indicate the permeability of the soil and the percentage runoff from a particular area.

Impermeable surface
An artificial non-porous surface that generates a surface water runoff after rainfall.

A summary measure that provides information on the state of, or change in, a system.

Indoor air quality (IAQ)
The cleanliness or health effects of air in a building is affected by the amount of compounds released into the space by various materials, carbon dioxide levels, and microbial contaminants. IAQ is heavily influenced by both choice of building materials and ventilation rates.