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Eco buzzwords - A

Air Pollution
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.

Eco buzzwords - B

Biodegradable
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.

Eco buzzwords - C

Carbon Capture
A process to trap and hold carbon dioxide as it is being produced before it reaches the atmosphere, as a method to reduce damaging emissions.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
A colourless chemical compound gas released into the atmosphere as a by product of burning carbon and when vegetable and animal matter composes. CO2 is one of the many greenhouse gases.

Carbon footprint
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.
 

Carbon Neutral
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.

Carbon-Neutral Design
A process to design buildings, products and services which minimise CO2 emissions through careful planning. The surplus can be off-set against eco project investments.

Carbon Offsetting
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.

Climate Change
A recorded and prominent change in the earth’s temperature over a long period of time, which changes local weather conditions. It is linked to global warming and human activities such as manufacture and transportation.
 

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.

Conservation
To prevent natural living resources from being used up through protection, preservation and limited use. Natural resources such as water, vegetation, animals, minerals and nutrients. This applies to non living resources such as old buildings and antiques.

Eco buzzwords - D

Daylighting
Integrated design and use of natural daylight at the beginning of the build process. This optimises the position of a building and allows as much light into the interior as possible to reduce energy costs and encourage resource reduction.

Disposable
A product or material which is to be used only once before discarding.

Eco buzzwords - E

Eco (Ecology)
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 'green’ products.

Eco-consumer
A environmentally conscious person who buys products that are 'green'.

Eco-consumerism / Green Consumerism
Environmentally conscious people buying 'green' products and manufacturers producing them for that demand.
 

Eco-design
Design which uses natural resources and integrates energy efficiency in a way that is balanced with the earth, climate and natural environment.

Eco-elite
A person who is environmentally conscious and who has the finances to support their environmental preferences.
 

Eco-friendly / Environmentally Friendly / Planet-Friendly
A broad term used for products and materials which are made specifically to reduce the negative effects on the environment. Also reducing the use of non renewable resources in sourcing, manufacture, packaging, use and disposal. This term applies to activities and services.

Ecological Footprint
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 earth’s ability to generate these resources.
 

Ecological Rucksack
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.

Energy Efficient
Methods and products which use a lower amount of energy to operate than their counterparts. Although initially more expensive, over the product lifetime they are typically more durable and cost less to use.

Energy Efficiency
Achieving the same outcome, such as light from a 60 watt bulb with less energy than counterpart bulbs. This reduces an unnecessary waste of energy and resources.

Energy Conservation
The reduction and limited use of non renewable energy such as electricity. This is achieved by using alternative renewable energy sources such as solar energy and daylighting.

Environment
Our natural or man-made surroundings both internal and external.

Emissions
Gases and vapours released into the atmosphere as a by product of another process e.g. manufacture, combustion, transportation etc.

Embodied Energy
The total amount of energy used by a process e.g. the total energy for a building begins with sourcing and manufacturing raw materials through to ongoing maintenance as the building ages. Embodied energy looks at the whole lifecycle.

Ethical Goods & Services
Companies who make sure that their suppliers uphold employee conditions and allow employees standard rights.

Eco buzzwords - F

Fossil Fuel
Coal, oil and natural gases are created from condensed fossil remains of vegetation and animal/human life over the earth’s history. These fossils are a non-renewable natural energy resource when burnt.

Eco buzzwords - G

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.

Global Warming
The progressive increase in the earth’s surface and atmospheric temperature over a long period of time. This is linked to climate change, man-made human activities and the ongoing increase of greenhouse gases.

To go Green
To make both a conscious and active decision to reduce the negative effect on the environment through your own lifestyle choices.

Green Building / Sustainable Building Design
Building
design and construction which uses methods, systems and materials that have a lower negative effect on the environment than conventional building design. Typical features are energy efficiency, daylighting, renewable energy, water conservation, waste management, eco building materials and brown land use.

Greenhouse Effect
The continual increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere destroys the ozone layer which allows radiation from the sun to reach our atmosphere. The sun’s 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.

Greenhouse Gases
Gases present in the atmosphere which absorb the sun’s energy and heat; water vapour, carbon dioxide CO2, methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), halogenated fluorocarbons (HCFCs), ozone (O3), perfluorinated carbons (PFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Green Washing
Manufacturers who make false claims that their products are eco friendly, sustainable or organic etc.

Eco buzzwords - H

Handmade
A product crafted by hand rather than by mechanic production. The product is unique and is not for mass production.

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)
A product thrown away at home which is harmful to humans, animals and eco-systems; toxic, irritants, reactive, corrosive or ignitable.

Eco buzzwords - I

Incineration
To burn waste instead of putting it into landfill sites. This creates energy which can be used as power, however it also releases greenhouse gases as a by product.

Eco buzzwords - L

Landfill site
An area of land where solid waste can be disposed of.

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.

Eco buzzwords - N

Natural
A product or material which does not come from man-made origins e.g. timber, leather, beeswax etc.

Non-toxic
A substance which is not poisonous or hazardous to a living organism’s health, well being and survival.

Non-Renewable Resource
A resource such as a raw material which cannot be regenerated, replaced or restored within human lifetime. One example of this is fossil fuels.

Eco buzzwords - O

Off-Gassing
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.

Organic
An alternative farming method for crops, dairy foods and livestock which removes toxins, manufactured chemicals, synthetic additives, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and provides products which are biodegradable.


Eco buzzwords - P

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.

Pollution
Particles in water, air or earth which have a negative affect on human health and the environment.

Pollution Prevention
Methods to help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere through man-made human activities. Relating to the use of energy, production processes, transportation etc.

Post-Consumer
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 “made with 95% post-consumer waste”.

Pre-Consumer
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.

Product Take-Back
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.

Eco buzzwords - R

Recycle
The process of changing consumer waste into new materials, products and packaging.

Recyclable
A material, product or piece of packaging which can be recycled when the end of its lifecycle has been reached. An example would be aluminium cans which can be broken down into their pure form to be made into new aluminium cans.

Recycle Symbol
A symbol used on labels which shows that the materials, product or piece of packaging can be recycled if there is a suitable recycling service in the local area. The symbol is made up of three chasing arrows.

Recycled
A material, product or piece of packaging which has been remanufactured into a new material, product or piece of packaging.

Recycled Content
The total amount described in percent of recycled and reused materials used in the manufacture of a new material, product or piece of packaging. This includes both pre and post consumer use of waste.

Recycling
A human activity which involves sorting and taking old products and materials such as glass, plastic, paper etc to be recycled rather than throwing them away as waste, which would increase the volume in landfill sites.
 

Renewable Materials
Natural raw materials such as timber and grasses, which can be grown or restored over time. Care must be given in the plantation management so that replanting and felling are in harmony.

Renewable Energy / Technology
Using natural resources such as water, wind and sun for an ever lasting energy source. Resources which have a much lower negative effect on the environment and do not produce greenhouse gases.

Remanufacture
When a product reaches the end of its lifecycle, it can be manufactured for a second time using the parts which remain functional. An example of this is printer cartridges which can be refilled once empty.

Repurpose
A product or material which is used for another purpose once its original purpose has completed.

Reuse
A product or material which is used again and again for the same purpose, such as milk bottles.

Eco buzzwords - S

Solar Energy / Power
The sun is used as a renewable energy resource, an example of this is solar panels for electricity generation.
 

Sustainable
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.
 

Sustainable Design / Design for Sustainability (DfS) and Design for Environment (DfE)
A design using resources that have as little negative effect on the natural, economic and social environment as possible, which will not have any impact on future generations.

Eco buzzwords - T

Triple Bottom Line, People/Planet/Profit, TBL, 3BL
Companies who add environmental and social standards into their concerns for profit and performance.

Eco buzzwords - W

Waste Management
A manufacturing and construction term for managing waste; reduction, prevention, disposal and collection.

Waste Reduction / Waste Minimisation
An effort to limit the amount of waste created from the beginning to the end of a product lifecycle to reduce the environmental impact from continual filling landfill sites.

Eco buzzwords - V

Virgin Product
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. These vapours have a negative affect on the environment and human health.

Eco buzzwords - Z

Zero-VOCs
Materials and products which do not contain volatile organic compounds.
 
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