Green Industry Glossary
This basic Green glossary will get you started. For more specialized knowledge about a specific green industry or field, see the links to specialized glossaries at the bottom of this page.
- Acid Rain:
- Precipitation that has become acidic (low pH) due to the emission of sulfur oxides from fossil fuel-burning power plants. Source: U.S. Department of Energy / Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- Fuels derived from resources other than petroleum. Some are produced domestically, reducing dependence on foreign oil, and some are derived from renewable sources. Often, they produce less pollution than gasoline or diesel. Source: U.S. Department of Energy / Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- Alternative fuel made from virgin vegetable oil or used vegetable oil. Some animal fats like beef tallow and fish oil can be used to make biodiesel fuel. May be blended with conventional diesel to get different blends such as B2 (2 percent biodiesel and 98 percent conventional diesel) or B20 (20 percent biodiesel) or it can be used as 100 percent biodiesel (B100). Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- The variability among organisms on Earth and within an ecosystem. Maintaining biodiversity is necessary to preserve the health and survival of an ecosystem.
- Bioenergy is renewable energy made from any organic material from plants or animals. Sources of bioenergy are called "biomass," and include agricultural and forestry residues, municipal solid wastes, industrial wastes, and terrestrial and aquatic crops grown solely for energy purposes. Source: U.S. Department of Energy.
BRITISH THERMAL UNIT (Btu):
- The standard measure of heat energy. It takes one Btu to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit at sea level.
- Cap and Trade
- Large-scale emitter's of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions will have a limit ("cap") on the amount of emisisons they are permitted. Emitters who reduce their emissions below their allowed limits can sell ('trade") their extra emitting capacity to the less efficient emitters.
- Carbon Footprint:
- The total amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted over the full lifecycle of a product or service, expressed as grams of CO2 equivalents.
- The act of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through emissions trading. Individuals or companies voluntarily purchase credits for another party to offset their actions. The goal of carbon offsets is to attain an overall effect of carbon neutrality.
- Any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). Climate change may result from:
- Natural factors, such as changes in the sun's intensity or slow changes in the Earth's orbit around the sun
- Natural processes within the climate system (e.g., changes in ocean circulation)
- Human activities that change the atmosphere's composition (e.g., through burning fossil fuels) and the land surface (e.g., deforestation, reforestation, urbanization and desertification)
- The use of direct, diffused or reflected sunlight to provide supplemental lighting for building interiors. Source: U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- Under the First Law of Thermodynamics, efficiency is the ratio of work or energy output to work or energy input, and cannot exceed 100 percent. Efficiency under the Second Law of Thermodynamics is determined by the ratio of the theoretical minimum energy that is required to accomplish a task relative to the energy actually consumed to accomplish the task. Source: U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- Particles and gases released into the air as byproducts. There are many types of emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions, for example, contribute to global warming and is not sustainable to the health of the earth.
- Geothermal energy is heat from within the earth. We can use the steam and hot water produced inside the earth to heat buildings or generate electricity. Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source because the water is replenished by rainfall and the heat is continuously produced inside the earth. Source: U.S. Department of Energy
Greenhouse Gases (GHGs):
- Gases in the Earth's atmosphere that produce the greenhouse effect. Changes in the concentration of certain greenhouse gases, due to human activity such as fossil fuel burning, increase the risk of global climate change. Greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, halogenated fluorocarbons, ozone, perfluorinated carbons, and hydro fluorocarbons. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- A building designed to conserve resources and reduce negative impacts on the environment - whether it is energy, water, building materials or land. May use one or more renewable energy systems for heating and cooling, such as solar electric, solar hot water, geothermal, biomass, or any combination of these.
- A light-weight attempt by marketing and management departments of companies to seemingly care about environmental concerns.
- Vehicle that runs on both electric battery and fuel, improving mileage efficiency and producing fewer toxic emissions.
- Generating electricity using water. Source: U.S. Department of Energy
- Refers to reduced amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paints and finishes. Low-VOC paints contain fewer harmful toxins and emit fewe roff-gases.
- Made from materials and ingredients found in nature, with little or no human intervention. For example, wood is a natural material while plastic is not.
- Refers to a product that is made from plants or insects. Organic materials and products often carry certifications according to industry, for example organic fruits and vegetables.
- The heating and cooling of a building naturally through the use of efficient site placement and energy efficient materials.
- Silicon-based solar-energy cells are used to harness the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity that can be stored in batteries and/or used in conjunction with grid-based electrical systems.
- Material that can be used again in manufacturing new goods. Recyclable materials (aluminum, steel, paper, etc.) must usually remain in their pure form, rather than as a composite or glued material.
- Energy forms that typically have low environmental impact; harvested from sources that are not depleted when used. For example: solar energy, hydroelectric power, and wind power. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Solar energy is energy from the sun. This energy can be converted into electricity in 2 ways -
- Photovoltaic - defined above.
- Solar Power Plants - indirectly generate electricity when the heat from solar thermal collectors is used to heat a fluid which produces steam that is used to power generator.
- The concept that new development must meet the needs of the present without compromising those of the future. Sustainability is measured in three interdependent dimensions: the environment, economics, and society—often referred to as the triple bottom line.
- Energy generated through the use of a turbine that collects wind energy and converts it to electricity.
- A building that generates as much, or more, energy than it consumes.
See Guide to Green Job Terminology for a list of common acronyms.
- Environment – Toxic Substances
- Environmental Economics
- Environmental Health & Safety
- Garden/Landscape Ecology
- Green Building
- Smart Growth
- Solar Thermal
- Supply Chain
- Other useful Glossaries
© Copyright, 2009, Kathleen Lyons. Job-Hunt's Green Jobs Job Search expert, Kathleen Lyons, is a workforce training and performance support specialist. She believes that the emerging green economy offers huge opportunities for both white- and blue-collar job seekers to find satisfying and meaningful work. Kathleen holds membership in the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), Co-op America, The International EcoTourism Club and the Cape & Islands Renewable Energy Collaborative.