Glossary

A

aerobic
Living or occurring only in the presence of oxygen: aerobic bacteria. 2. Of or relating to aerobes, organisms that require and utilize oxygen. 3. Involving or improving oxygen consumption by the body: aerobic exercise.

alternative energy
Usually environmentally friendly, this is energy from uncommon sources such as
wind power or solar energy, not fossil fuels.

alternative fuels
similar to alternative energy. Not fossil fuels, but different transportation fuels like natural gas, methanol, bio fuels and electricity.

annual consumption
Annual consumption refers to the amount of electricity used by a consumer in one year and is typically measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). This information is available on your electricity bill or by contacting your energy provider.

anaerobic
1: Lacking or seriously depleted of oxygen. Opposite of aerobic. 2: Of or relating to organisms, such as certain bacteria, that can live in the absence of atmospheric oxygen (indeed, for most anaerobic bacteria, oxygen is toxic).

atmosphere
The air surrounding the Earth, described as a series of shells or layers of different characteristics. The atmosphere, composed mainly of nitrogen and oxygen with traces of carbon dioxide, water vapor, and other gases, acts as a buffer between Earth and the sun. The layers, troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and the exosphere, vary around the globe and in response to seasonal changes.

B

biodegradable
Able to be broken down into simpler substances (elements and compounds) by naturally occuring decomposers. Essentially, anything that can be ingested by an organism without causing that organism harm. 2. Nontoxic and able to be decomposed in relatively short period even on a human time scale .

bio-fuel

A form of renewable fuel that’s derived from biomass, which includes organic materials produced by plants, animals or microorganisms

biomass

Depending on free oxygen or air

bioplastic

plastic suitable for use as a biomaterial

C

carbon Dioxide (CO2)
A heavy, odorless, colorless gas that is made from carbon and oxygen. Carbon dioxide is also known as CO2. Plants need carbon dioxide to survive.

carbon footprint
A measure of the your impact on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide.

carbon monoxide
A colorless, odorless, and highly toxic gas commonly created during combustion.

carbon neutral
A company, person, or action either not producing any carbon emissions or, if it does, having been offset elsewhere. Carbon Rationing – Limiting the amount of carbon you introduce into the environment each year. Carbon rationing action groups (crags) help you reduce your carbon footprint.

carbon Sink
Carbon dioxide is naturally absorbed by things such as oceans, forests, and peat bogs. These are called carbon sinks.

chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)
A family of compounds of chlorine, fluorine, and carbon, entirely of industrial origin. CFCs include refrigerants, propellants for spray cans (this usage is banned in the U.S., although some other countries permit it) and for blowing plastic-foam insulation, styrofoam packaging, and solvents for cleaning electronic circuit boards.

commodity Electricity*
Physical electricity in the absence of the technological, environmental, social, and economic benefits associated with a specific generation source.

composting, compost
A process whereby organic wastes, including food and paper, decompose naturally, resulting in a produce rich in minerals and ideal for gardening and farming as a soil conditioner, mulch, resurfacing material, or landfill cover.

conservation
Preserving and renewing, when possible, human and natural resources. Conventional Power* – Power that is produced from non-renewable fuels, such as coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear material.

conventional fuels
are finite resources that cannot be replenished once they are extracted and used.

cost-benefit analysis
Estimates and comparison of short-term and long-term costs (losses) and benefits (gains) from an economic decision. If the estimated benefits exceed the estimated costs, the decision to buy an economic good or provide a public good is considered worthwhile.

D

dioxin
A synthetic, organic chemical of the chlorinated hydrocarbon class. It is one of the most toxic compounds known to humans, having many harmful effects, including induction of cancer and birth defects, even in extremely minute concentrations. It has become a widespread environmental pollutant because of the use of certain herbicides that contain dioxin as a contaminant.

decompose
To rot or decay as a result of being broken down by microorganisms

decomposers
Organisms such as bacteria and fungi that decompose dead plants and animals;

downcycle (down-cycling) is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of lesser quality and reduced functionality.

E

ecosystem
A distinct area that combines biotic communities and the abiotic environments with which they interact

emissions
The release of a substance (usually a gas when referring to the subject of climate change) into the atmosphere.

emissions Cap
A limit placed on companies regarding the amount of greenhouse gases it can emit.

energy efficiency*
Energy efficiency saves energy, saves money on utility bills, and helps protect the environment by reducing the demand for electricity.

F

feedstock

the raw material that is required for some industrial processes

fossil fuel
Any deposit of fossil materials, such as petroleum, natural gas, or coal, that can be burned to produce energy

freecycle( freecycling)
Means give it away free

Fuel Cell
A technology that uses an electrochemical process to convert energy into electrical power. Often powered by natural gas, fuel cell power is cleaner than grid-connected power sources. In addition, hot water is produced as a by-product.

G

geothermal energy
Heat energy from within the earth

geosphere
The soils, sediments, and rock layers of the Earth’s crust, both continental and beneath the ocean floors.

Generation — The process of making electricity. The term may also refer to energy supply.

global warming / climate change
The terms “climate change” and “global warming” are often used to mean the same thing. Global warming emphasises the rise in average temperatures. see global warming

go green
Living a “green” lifestyle and caring for earth. recycle, reuse, reduce.

green design
A design, usually architectural, which conforms to environmental sound principles of building, material and energy use.

greenhouse effect
The effect of certain gasses that trap heat in the atmosphere and raise the temperature of the planet.

greenhouse gases
Atmospheric gases, mostly carbon dioxide and water vapor, that trap the warmth from the sun, just as glass traps warmth in a greenhouse

green Power*
Renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass and lowimpact hydro generate green power.

grid
The network of wires and cables that transport electricity from a power plant to your home or business.

H

halocarbons
Compounds containing either chlorine, bromine or fluorine and carbon.

hydrocarbons
Substances containing only hydrogen and carbon. Fossil fuels are made up of hydrocarbons.

Hydrofluorocarbons
Used as solvents and cleaners in the semiconductor industry, among others; experts say that they possess global warming potentials that are thousands of times greater than CO2.

Hydrogen gas

hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75 % of the Universe’s elemental mass

I

J

K

Kilowatt-hour*
A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a standard metric unit of measurement for electricity.

L

landfill
Land waste disposal site in which waste is generally spread in thin layers, compacted, and covered with a fresh layer of soil each day

leachate
A mixture of rainwater and other liquids that comes from garbage

M

Megawatt-hour*
A megawatthour (MWh) is equal to 1,000 kWh.

methane (CH4)
A hydrocarbon that is a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential most recently estimated at 23 times that of carbon dioxide (CO2).

microorganisms
Living organisms so small they can only be seen through a microscope

municipal solid waste (MSW)
Residential solid waste and some non-hazardous commercial, institutional, and industrial wastes. This material is generally sent to municipal landfills for disposal.

N

natural gas
Underground deposits of gases consisting of 50 to 90 percent methane (CH4) and small amounts of heavier gaseous hydrocarbon compounds such as propane (C3H8) and butane (C4H10).

nitrogen oxides
(NOx)Gases consisting of one molecule of nitrogen and varying numbers of oxygen molecules. Nitrogen oxides are produced in the emissions of vehicle exhausts and from power stations.

nitrous oxide (N2O)
A powerful greenhouse gas with a global warming potential of 320.

nonbiodegradable
Not able to be consumed and/or broken down by biological organisms. Nonbiodegradable substances include plastics, aluminum, and many chemicals used in industry and agriculture.

nonrenewable resource
Resources exist in the earth that are non renewable because we are taking them away and using them at a much faster rate than they were formed. Examples are copper, aluminum, coal, and oil.

O

offsetting
Offsetting involves calculating the total amount of carbon dioxide that will be emitted from a certain activity, for example plane travel or a conference call.

organic
All living things, and products that are uniquely produced by living things, such as wood, leather, and sugar. 2. All chemical compounds or molecules, natural or synthetic, that contain carbon atoms as an integral part of their structure.

organic waste

Organic waste is the term used to describe those wastes that are readily biodegradable, or easily breakdown with the assistance of mirco-organisms

P

Polyvinyl Chloride (pvc)

A tough, environmentally indestructible plastic that releases hydrochloric acid when burned

post consumer waste
Waste collected after the consumer has used and disposed of it.

precycle, precycling
Consciousness about what you buy and use and choosing products based on less waste reduction

pyrolosis (pyrolysis)

The decomposition of a material or compound due to heat in the absence of oxygen or any other reagents

Q

R

renewable
Able to be replaced or replenished, either by the earth’s natural processes or by human action. Air, water, and forests are often considered to be example of renewable resources.

renewable energy
Known as green or environmentally-friendly energy, renewable energy comes from natural sources that won’t run out. These include the wind, the sun, the waves and biofuels such as wood, manure or flaxseed oil

renewable resource
Resources exist in the earth that are non renewable because we are taking them away and using them at a much faster rate than they were formed. Examples are copper, aluminum, coal, and oil.

nonbiodegradable
Not able to be consumed and/or broken down by biological organisms. Such as plastics, aluminum, and many chemicals used in industry and agriculture.

reuse
use something another time

S

Sulfur Dioxide
SO2 is a heavy, smelly gas which can be condensed into a clear liquid. It is used to make sulfuric acid, bleaching agents, preservatives and refrigerants and is a major source of air pollution.

sustainability
To keep in existence; maintain. To supply with necessities or nourishment; provide for earth also “sustainable living”.

Sustainable

able to be sustained; able to be sustained for an indefinite period without damaging the environment, or without depleting a resource; renewable

Sustainable Development

Environmentally friendly forms of economic growth activities (agriculture, logging, manufacturing, etc.) that allow the continued production of a commodity without damage to the ecosystem (soil, water supplies, biodiversity or other surrounding resources)

Syngas

Syngas (from synthesis gas) is the name given to a gas mixture that contains varying amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrogen

T

U

upcycle (up-cycling) The goal of upcycling is to prevent wasting potentially useful materials by making use of existing ones.

urban heat island
Buildup of heat in the atmosphere above an urban area.

V

W

waste
Waste, rubbish, trash, garbage, or junk is unwanted or undesired material.

wastewater
Water that has been used and contains dissolved or suspended waste materials

X

Y

Z

zero waste

Zero waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. Any trash sent to landfills is minimal. The process recommended is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature