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Acid rain
Rain with increased acidity due to absorption of airborne pollutants such as
C02 and  sulphur dioxide.

Precipitation, as rain, snow, or sleet, containing relatively high
concentrations  of acid-forming chemicals, such as the pollutants from coal
smoke, chemical  manufacturing, and smelting, which have been released
into the atmosphere and combined with water vapour.

Active Solar Design
Uses mechanical devices such as pumps and fans to move heat  between
collectors, storage, and use. Solar panels that collect solar energy and
convert it  to electricity are considered an active solar design.

Air Pollution
Airborne contaminants or pollutants that adversely affect the environment
or  human health. A byproduct of the manufacturing process and
transportation of goods.  Buying eco-friendly products indirectly reduces air

Contamination of air by smoke and harmful gases, mainly oxides of
carbon,  sulfur, and nitrogen.

Alternative Energy
Energy derived from sources that do not use up natural resources or harm
the environment, such as solar, wind, or nuclear energy, that can replace or  
supplement traditional fossil-fuel sources, as coal, oil, and natural gas. Also,
green power.

Energy from a source other than fossil fuel sources, like natural gas  or coal,
such as wind, sun or running water. To take advantage of alternative
energy,  consider installing solar tubes, panels or solar electricity generation

Alternative Fuels
A fuel other than gasoline or diesel for powering motor vehicles, often with
improved energy efficiency and pollution reduction features, including
electricity, natural gas, methanol, ethanol, and fuel cells.

A material or substance which will decompose quickly and without  harmful
effects to the environment, when left exposed to nature.

Any material that can be broken down by living things including micro-
organisms such as  bacteria.

The variety of different species within a set habitat. For example, the
biodiversity of the  Amazon Rainforest is greater than that of the Gobi desert.

A derivative of biological material, such as food waste, used oil from fast-
food fryers or poultry litter, that can be converted to fuel and be both
sustainable and carbon neutral. One way to take advantage of biofuels is to
drive a car that runs on it.

In energy terms, biomass refers to the use of organic material for the
generation of heat,  electricity or motive power. Biomass is produced from
organic materials, either directly  from plants or indirectly from industrial,
commercial, domestic or agricultural products. It  is carbon neutral as the
CO2 released when energy is generated from biomass is balanced  by that
absorbed during the fuel's production.

Brown Power
Power generated from environmentally hostile technology, such as coal,
nuclear, large hydro, and natural gas plants.

Carbon capture
New technology can now capture large amounts of carbon emissions and
store them in  isolated areas. This means they do not float into our
atmosphere and speed up climate  change.

Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a gas that is made when fossil fuels are burnt to provide
power for  everything from driving your car to boiling the kettle. It is also
made when organic things  like trees are burnt. It is then released into the
earth’s atmosphere and is one of the harmful gases known as
Greenhouse Gases.

Carbon footprint
We all have a carbon footprint; it’s the amount of CO2 each of us
produces in our daily  lives (for example through using electricity in our
homes or driving) and the impact that has on the environment. Other gases
like methane (produced by cows) also contribute to a carbon footprint, for
example consuming meat and dairy products adds to our 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. Greenhouse gases contribute to global warming and climate
change, so reducing carbon footprints is desirable for a healthier earth.

Carbon negative
Any process or product that removes carbon from the atmosphere. Growing
trees are carbon negative.

Carbon neutral
Because so many of the things we do involve burning carbon at some stage
(for example,  though riding a bike does not produce emissions,
manufacturing the bike did) it has so far  been difficult to say what being
carbon neutral really is. But many people agree that it is all  about cutting
down carbon emissions as much as possible by doing things like switching
to  renewable energy.

A process that doesn't add to the net amount of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere. Look for ways you can reduce carbon emissions, such as
maintaining your car, reducing travel miles and conserving energy in the

Carbon offset
Carbon offsetting is a way of balancing your carbon emissions. There are a
number   from fossil fuels with renewable energy such as wind or solar
power. It can help to reduce your carbon footprint but is best viewed as a
last resort once actual energy use has been reduced as much as possible.

Carbon offsetting is the act of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through
emissions trading. For example, a factory or production facility may not be
able to reduce its own carbon footprint any further through its own actions,
so it may voluntarily  purchase credits for another party to offset their
actions. The goal of carbon offsets is to attain a carbon neutral overall effect.

Acknowledging that a product is genuine to what it claims, typically having
gone through a process similar to obtaining a license.

Used in refrigeration, insulation and aerosol propellants, these chemicals
drift into the upper atmosphere and destroy the ozone layer. Look for
products  that are CFC free.

Climate change
Over the years our climate has changed. Climate change can be due to
natural causes,  but most scientists agree that the rises in the earth’s
temperature are linked to the way  we live and activities like burning fossil
fuels. This means that the temperature of the earth is getting hotter,
causing ice caps to melt and sea levels to rise. According to the  World
Wildlife Fund, climate change could cause a global, humanitarian and
environmental  disaster.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)
These bulbs contain a gas that produces invisible  ultraviolet light when the
gas is stimulated by electricity. Illumination is a result of the light  reflecting
off a white coating inside the bulb. The bulbs use less energy because the  
process doesn't require heating a filament to produce light. They also last
longer than  traditional incandescent bulbs.

A mixture of various decaying organic substances, such as dead leaves,  
manure, or kitchen scraps, used for fertilizing soil, improve soil structure,
and add  nutrients.

The careful utilization, preservation, and renewal of a natural resource in  
order to prevent depletion.

Construction Waste Management Plan (CWMP)
A plan that diverts construction debris  from landfills through conscientious
plans to recycle, salvage, and reuse. For best results,  this type of plan
should also eliminate packaging of materials when possible and be carefully
monitored or audited by the contractor.

Cottage Industry
An industry in which the creation and services of products is home  based
and not factory based. The products produced are often independent, and
one of a  kind and not mass produced.

Cradle to cradle
This is a construction and production ethos proposed by Walter R. Stahel
that aims to  make all components of a made object reusable or disposable
with no negative ecological  effects.

The breakdown or decay of organic materials by bacteria and fungi.

To make safe by eliminating poisonous or otherwise harmful  substances,
such as noxious chemicals or radioactive material.

Deforestation is simply the process of removing trees from land. Trees help
absorb CO2, one of the main gases that contribute to climate change, so
the more trees get chopped down, the less carbon is absorbed.
Deforestation now contributes to nearly 20% of global carbon emissions,
according to the Forestry Commission.

This is the process of removing salt from the sea and other salt water. It is a
way of  increasing the water supply for humans and farm animals.

A group of chemicals, some of which are highly toxic, which can be formed by
incomplete  combustion (such as you may find in incinerators) and are
believed to contribute to  pollution and climate change.

DIY: Do-It-Yourself
Creating things yourself without the help of professionals. A mentality that
often goes hand-in-hand with recycling and conserving resources.

Dual-flush toilets
Dual-flush toilets are designed to conserve water and allow consumers  to
choose either a low- or full-flush capacity.

Related to the quality of an item, durability indicated how well a product
stands  up after a sustained period of use.

Not harmful to the environment.

Products are made with ecology and the environment in mind.

Ecological Footprint
The impact of humans on ecosystems created by their use of land, water,
and other natural resources, usually calculated in terms of area of planet
needed to  sustain consumption.

The Ecological Footprint measures how our lifestyles affect other people as
well as the  planet. It works out how much land and sea is needed to feed
everyone and to provide all  the energy, water and raw materials like wood
we use in our everyday lives.

Ecological Impact
The effect that a man-caused or natural activity has on living organisms and
their environment.

Ecological (Environmental) Sustainability
The maintenance of ecosystem components and  functions for future

The relationship between organisms and their environment.

A collection of living things and the environment in which they live.

A system made up of a community of living organisms.  You might talk
about the ecosystem of a local area or the whole country.

The interconnectedness of organisms (plants, animals, microbes) with each
other and their environment.

The release of any gas, liquid or solid.

Emissions are 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

Emission Controls
Any measure that limits and reduces the release of emissions.

Energy Efficient
Products and systems that use less energy to perform as well or better  than
standard products. While energy-efficient products sometimes have higher
up-front  costs, they tend to cost less over their lifetime when the cost of
energy consumed is  factored in. An example of this is fluorescent light
bulbs vs. incandescent bulbs.

Energy efficient products use less energy, but work just as well, if not better,
than  standard products. Energy efficient light bulbs use up to 80% less
energy and last much  longer than standard light bulbs. Find out more here.
There are lots of other energy  efficient products available from fridges to
computers, so look out for them next time you  buy.

The air, water, minerals, organisms, and all other external factors  
surrounding and affecting a given organism at any time.

Environmental Impact
Any change to the environment whether it harmful or helpful.

The wearing away of land surface by wind or water, intensified by land-
clearing  practices related to farming, residential or industrial development,
road building, or  logging.

An alternative automotive fuel derived from grain and corn; usually blended
with gasoline.

Refers to furniture that is designed to pack flat, thereby reducing shipping
costs  and fuel used in transportation. Flat-pak designs are ready to
assemble by the customer,  right out of the box.

Food Chain
A series of organisms interrelated in their feeding habits, the lowest being  
fed upon by a higher one, which in turn feeds a still higher organism, etc.

Fossil fuels
Oil, natural gas and coal are all fossil fuels. They are formed in the ground
from the  remains of dead plants and animals over millions of years.

Any combustible organic material, as oil, coal, or natural gas, derived from  
the remains of former life.

Any fuel that was created by decomposed plants and animals. Burning fossil  
fuels creates carbon dioxide and is a large contributor to pollution.

Permitted to graze or forage for grain, etc., rather than being confined to a  
feedlot or a small enclosure. A labeling term that has come under some
scrutiny due to interpretation of standards.

Fuel Efficiency
The proportion of energy released by fuel combustion that is converted into
useful energy.
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