We’ve all heard the “buzz words” of the Green Revolution.┬á Most of them are self-explanatory, but I’ve come across some phrases that are either scientifically complex or culturally elite.┬á To avoid any further confusion, here is a list of the lesser known (or just infrequently explained) terms for your general knowledge.┬á If you can think of any I missed here, send them in and I’ll add them.
Particles in the air which have a negative affect on human health and the environment. Air pollution comes from toxic gases released during the manufacturing process, during transportation and from off-gassing.
A product which is made of natural, raw materials that will decompose or rot into the earth without having a negative affect on the environment.
A measured amount of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide which are released into the atmosphere by manufacture, transport, products, materials, activities etc. Footprints are described in CO2 equivalent grams.
Human activities which have reduced the creation of greenhouse gases together with carbon offsetting, which overall do not increase the amount of CO2 already in the atmosphere.
A way to reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere by balancing or cancelling out the amount of these gases through investments made in environmentally friendly projects.
Man-made chemical compounds that contain carbon, fluorine, chlorine and hydrogen. CFCs are found in cooling equipment such as freezers, fridges and air-conditioning units. These compounds damage the earthΓÇÖs stratospheric ozone layer. This layer is the earthΓÇÖs protection from UV rays.
Close the Loop
To buy a recycled product which has been remanufactured / reprocessed / reused on more than one occasion. This eliminates waste and creates a complete product cycle.
Integrated design and use of natural daylight at the beginning of the build process. This optimizes the position of a building and allows as much natural light into the interior as possible to reduce energy costs and encourage resource reduction.
A substance that is created when plastics that contain chlorine (e.g. PVC) are burnt: A highly toxic substance.
The relationship between organisms and their environment. Commonly and informally used as a term for products and materials which are environmentally friendly.
Eco-chic / Green Chic
The trend and fashion of being environmentally conscious and buying sustainable and/or ‘greenΓÇÖ products.
Eco-consumerism / Green Consumerism
Environmentally conscious people buying ‘green’ products and manufacturers producing them for that demand.
A person who is environmentally conscious and who has the finances to support their environmental preferences.
An amount of land needed by a person or population to sustain their lives with the consumption of natural resources including waste. This is then calculated and compared to the earthΓÇÖs ability to generate these resources.
The background historical information on how an end product is generated in materials, manufacture and energy input. Similar in meaning to the Ecological footprint but concentrating on material efficiency over the lifecycle of a product.
Environmental Management System (EMS)
A documented system that companies use internally to look at environmental issues, which highlights the impact of their business actions on the environment. . The standardisat9on systems for Europe are EMAS and ISO14001.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) / Genetically Engineered Organisms (GEOs)
Organisms from bacteria, plants or animals which have been genetically changed in a laboratory through DNA technology.
A natural heat source found underground that can be used by technology for heating systems and energy.
The continual increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere destroys the ozone layer which allows radiation from the sun to reach our atmosphere. The sunΓÇÖs heat cannot escape and becomes trapped as if within a closed greenhouse. This heats the earth and is linked to climate change and negative changes in eco systems.
Gases present in the atmosphere which absorb the sunΓÇÖs energy and heat; water vapour, carbon dioxide CO2, methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), halogenated fluorocarbons (HCFCs), ozone (O3), perfluorinated carbons (PFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
Manufacturers who make false claims that their products are eco friendly, sustainable or organic etc.
Life Cycle Analysis / Life Cycle Design
To look at or design a product or material from the beginning to the end of its life to assess the environmental standards and the impact had on the environment. A typical lifecycle: raw material, manufacture, end product, use, reuse, recycling, disposal.The phrase ΓÇô from the cradle to the grave ΓÇô is commonly used.
Life Cycle Inventory (LCI)
A way to document the amount of energy used and how much waste is created in a product or material.
Gases released from building materials, finishes and products which are inhaled by humans and animals. Off-gassing causes interior air pollution and is connected to poor health and illness.
PETE / PET
Polyethylene terepthalate is a kind of plastic which is found in fabric, soft drinks and hard containers. Made by a chemical process which releases emissions during the production process. This material can be recycled. Read more this type of plastic and others that can be recycled.
A product or material which has been recycled or reused after its original purpose has completed. An example would be PET plastic bottles which have been recycled into new plastic bottles. The label may say ΓÇ£made with 95% post-consumer wasteΓÇ¥.
A product or material which has been recycled or reused before it has become a consumer product. An example would be collected PET plastic bottle waste from a factory floor which is put back into the production process to be used to make new plastic bottles.
A manufacturer who considers their products once they reach the end of their lifecycle; disposal, reuse, recyclable and sustainability. An example from Germany is the extra cost charged on glass bottles, which is then refunded when you return the bottle to the shop for recycling with the manufacturer.
To lead a good quality of like, through a lifestyle which makes as much as possible from what we have as well as making something last indefinitely. Sustainable human activities will not adversely affect generations in the future. An example of a sustainable material is timber supplies, the rate of felling and growing of trees must be balanced so that felling does not outweigh the time needed for growing new trees. Forests which are in balance are called sustainably managed forests. Another aspect of this lifestyle choice is to conserve as much as possible.
Triple Bottom Line, People/Planet/Profit, TBL, 3BL
Companies who add environmental and social standards into their concerns for profit and performance.
Vermicomposting or Vermiculture
A compost system that uses worms to help decompose vegetable and biodegrable household scraps ΓÇô producing soil which is full of nutrients.
Products that do not contain any recycled content, manufactured with 100% new materials.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
A toxic chemical contained within and then released as a gas from materials such as paint, glue, sealant, solvent and petrol over time. Found in most items of furniture and surface finishes.