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Whether you are looking at Portland homes built with an Earth Advantage or LEED rating or you are interested in existing homes with sustainable features, it is important to understand the varying degrees of green. From air quality, energy efficiency and water usage to construction materials and environmental responsibility, green can mean a variety of things. Here is a list of terminology that will help you understand the varying degrees of green in your home:
A solar application which uses electrical or mechanical equipment (typically pumps and/or fans) to assist in the collection and storage of solar energy for the purpose of heating, cooling, or making electricity.
Water containing human waste from toilets and urinals. Black water contains pathogens that must be neutralized before the water can be safely reused. Typically black water, after neutralization, is used for non-potable uses such as flushing or irrigation.
Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is a comprehensive tool for analyzing and improving the environmental performance of buildings through design and operations. This methodology has been developed by the UK-based Building Research Establishment.
Elements (walls, windows, roofs, skylights, etc.) and materials (insulation, vapor barriers, siding, etc.) that enclose a building. The building envelope is a thermal barrier between the indoor and outdoor environments and is a key factor in the sustainability of a building. A well-designed building envelope will minimize energy consumption for cooling and heating as well as promote the influx of natural light.
A measure of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted through the combustion of fossil fuels. A carbon footprint is often expressed as tons of carbon dioxide or tons of carbon emitted, usually on an annual basis.
A scenario where the net discharge of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere is zero. Carbon neutrality can be achieved by planting enough trees so that CO2 emissions as a result of combustion would be offset by CO2 absorption by the plants. In the presence of water and light, trees convert CO2 into sugar and oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. The average tree absorbs 10 kg (22 lbs.) of CO2 per year. Carbon neutral is also referred to as net zero carbon.
Minimizing the use of a natural resource, (e.g. water); conservation is an aspect of sustainable resource management.
The area of land and water needed to produce the resources to entirely sustain a human population and absorb its waste products with prevailing technology. The concept of an ecological footprint is used as a resource management and community-planning tool.
Ratio of energy output of a conversion process, or of a system to its energy input.
Recycled or reconstituted wood materials; may employ laminated wood chips or strands and/or finger joints.
Waste water captured from washbasins, bathtubs, showers and clothes washers; can be recycled to flush toilets or for irrigation.
A term now widely used to describe buildings designed and constructed with minimal negative impact to the environment and with an emphasis on conservation of resources, energy efficiency and healthful interior spaces.
A building that minimizes impact on the environment through resource (energy, water, etc.) conservation and contributes to the health of its occupants. Comfortable, aesthetically pleasing and healthful environments characterize green buildings.
Electricity generated from renewable energy sources (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and hydroelectric).
A network of power transmission and distribution facilities used to provide electricity to users (homes, businesses, industry). Large power plants, wind power generating facilities as well as small power producers (such as photovoltaic farms) feed electrical power into the grid for distribution to users. Electrical grids in the USA are both publicly and privately owned.
Rainwater captured and used for indoor needs and/or irrigation.
In-floor heating system; hot water is pumped through a thermal mass floor that absorbs the heat and evenly radiates it over an extended period of time.
Production of electricity by harnessing the power of flowing water, usually through the use of a waterwheel.
Assessment of the indoor air to determine levels of molds, bacteria, viruses and chemicals produced by off-gassing of products used in the building or carried into the building by the HVAC system.
Use of daylight and often direct sunlight in a built environment.
Technology of heating and cooling a building naturally, through the use of energy-efficient materials and proper site placement of the structure.
Solar panels used to harness the sun's energy and convert it to electricity that can be stored in batteries and/or used to power electrical systems.
Chlorinated vinyl plastic; very durable material used for flexible, vinyl flooring, plastic upholstery, and plastic siding. Produced in a closed process using vinyl chloride, a hazardous material. Vapors are toxic during off-gassing and when PVC is burned.
Flexible tubing is installed under flooring, behind walls, or above the ceiling to circulate warm water used as a heat source.
Disassembly of product components so that they can be the raw material for future manufacturing processes.
A resource that is replenished through a relatively fast-acting natural process (e.g. sustainable reforesting for lumber production).
Energy harvested from the sun, wind, or water; materials from renewable sources (e.g. sustainably managed forests) or virtually inexhaustible ones (e.g. mud, clay, sand).
Reusable materials from carefully demolished and deconstructed buildings.
Silicon solar panels that produce electricity that can be immediately used, stored in batteries, or sold back to the utility grid.
Solar collectors used to convert the sun's energy into heat for hot water, space heating, or industrial processes. Collectors use light-absorbing plates made of a dark-colored material (e.g. metal, rubber, or plastic) covered with glass. The plates transfer heat to water circulating above or below the plates. Heated water can be used immediately or stored for later use.
Refers to 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.
Highly evaporative, carbon-based chemical substance that produces noxious fumes; found in many paints, caulks, stains and adhesives.
Energy generated through the use of a turbine that collects wind energy and converts it to electricity.
Low-maintenance landscaping that conserves water and protects the environment by using soil analysis, mulch and appropriate plant selection.
While living green is about conserving the environment, you can also conserve energy and the money in your pocket. Did you know that 20-40% of a home's heat loss occurs through its windows? By focusing on problem areas like windows and doors as well as installing high performance heating and cooling systems, you can reduce excessive energy use, which will help keep your utility bills down and your savings up. Not to mention the fact that you will contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel depletion. Using more energy-efficient materials to insulate your home will also prevent moisture from accumulating and causing mold to grow. This will improve your home's air quality as well as your overall health.
Hasson’s involvement in green real estate isn’t just business; it’s personal. We believe that green living really does make a difference.
Leading a cleaner, greener, more eco-friendly existence doesn't mean you have to move into a yurt and grow your own rutabaga.