Important Glossary of Terms for Green Homes in Maine
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Green Home Glossary

Breaking Down What Green Means

Eco-Terms

 

We understand the science and terminology related to sustainable homes can be overwhelming at times. To help, please check out our green term cheat sheet below.

 

Active Solar Heating
Systems that collect and absorb solar radiation, then transfer the solar heat directly to the interior space or to a storage system, from which the heat is distributed. There are two types of systems: liquid-based systems and air-based systems. If a system cannot provide adequate space heating, an auxiliary or back-up system provides the additional heat. Both air and liquid systems can supplement forced air systems.

Active Solar Power
A solar electric (photovoltaic or "PV") system, not passive solar design, that converts the sun's energy into electricity for the home. It is usually done with PV panels installed on the roof.

Blower Door Test
A test that measures the air tightness of a building.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
The most prevalent of the greenhouse gases. Emitted by burning fossil fuels. Naturally occurring from sources such as human and animal respiration, ocean-atmosphere exchange, and volcanic eruptions.

Carbon Footprint
A calculation of the amount of greenhouse gases produced as a result of commercial, industrial, and individual activities.

Cellulose Insulation - Post consumer Recycled Content
Plant fiber that is used in wall and roof cavities to separate the inside and outside of the building thermally and acoustically. Typical materials used to manufacture the product include old newspapers, and telephone directories and borates and ammonium sulfate are included to retard fire and pests. Four major types of loose-fill cellulose products have been developed under a variety of brand names and are generally characterized as dry cellulose, spray applied cellulose, stabilized cellulose and low dust cellulose.

Double Pane Windows
Double or triple pane glass windows often contain argon, krypton, or other gases between panes to reduce heat flow and improve insulation.

Dual Flush Toilets
Toilets with two buttons for two flush options, one for liquid and another for solid waste. The button for liquid waste uses less water per flush.

Energy Thought CloudEnergy Efficent Appliance
Products that use less energy than conventional models. The ENERGY STAR® label is a credible third-party certification of a product's energy efficiency. Consumers can also refer to the FTC's Energy Guide label, a yellow label affixed to most appliances today.

Clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, water heaters, window air conditioners, central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, and pool heaters can get the label. Televisions, ranges, ovens, clothes dryers, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers do not receive such labels.

Energy Star®
A certification granted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for household appliances and buildings that perform at specified levels of energy efficiency.

Fresh Air Ventilation
A mechanical ventilation component of the HVAC system that draws in fresh air rather than recirculating and filtering air within a home.

Home Energy Rating System (HERS)
A scoring system established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET). Homes built to the specifications of the HERS Reference Home (based on the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code) scores a HERS Index of 100, while a net zero energy home scores a HERS Index of 0. Each 1-point decrease in the HERS Index corresponds to a 1% reduction in energy consumption compared to the HERS Reference Home. Thus, a home with a HERS Index of 85 is 15% more energy efficient than the HERS Reference Home, and a home with a HERS Index of 80 is 20% more energy efficient.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
A measurement of the overall cleanliness of the air within a building or home. The EPA has a builder program called Indoor airPLUS.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
The green building certification program created by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The comprehensive rating system (based on prerequisites and points) takes a whole building approach factoring in community resources & public transit, site characteristics, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials & resources, indoor environmental quality, awareness & education, and innovation.

Passive Solar
A type of design which takes maximum advantage of the sun's energy to help warm the home in winter and helps to redirect or block that energy to reduce cooling needs in the summer.

Radon
A naturally occurring gas, colorless and odorless, that has been shown to cause adverse health effects. Radon gas often enters a structure by seeping through cellar walls and floors.

Southern Exposure
In northern latitudes, a home exposed to the south can take advantage of collecting the sun's energy either for production of electricity (photovoltaic), heating water, or as part of a passive solar design. The approach collects the sun's energy in winter and offers natural lighting during the summer.

Sustainable
Renewable sources such as building materials, utilities, and resources that have increased environmental benefits.

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)
An organic gas with harmful effects on air quality. VOCs are frequently associated with paint, pesticides, carpet, and adhesives.

Zoned Heating
Heating systems with separate thermostat controls in different parts of a structure to allow for independent temperature control in each area.

 
Green Building Glossary created by The Green Resource Council.

 

   
   


 
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