Green Building Terms

In this chapter, we present the guts of the book, a brief explanation of 108 of the most important (and up-and-coming) terms used in green building discussions. These terms are typically used by architects, engineers, builders, developers, local officials and building managers to describe the green building attributes of a specific development. Our intention here is not to present a complete description of each topic, but to give you a brief, technically accurate introduction, so that you'll have a better understanding of what people are talking about when the subject of green buildings comes up. At the end of the book, there is a resource section with access to further information, so that you can investigate each topic as much as you please.

Architects and engineers often lapse into techno-speak, using acronyms and terms that even the intelligent and well-informed non-professional can't understand. Stripped of jargon, most green building concepts are understandable to anyone who paid attention in high-school physics and chemistry classes or has ever worked around their own home. Certain terms have been appropriated from general use and have acquired their own specialized meanings, such as "building envelope," a term used to denote the exterior of a building, including the type and amount of glazing (glass) and insulation used.

I have personally trained more than 3,000 building industry professionals through these workshops and given many dozens of speeches and presentations over the past five years. From these, I have garnered an idea of the terminology and concepts that I found initially difficult to understand and that I've seen my audiences struggle with. I've also included some terms that are not in general use but are at the leading edge of sus-tainability thinking and practice.

So, let's get started!

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