Buildings are a main contributor to global warming
generating 30% of U.S. CO2 emissions (the most
significant greenhouse gas pollutant). Minimizing
energy use that requires the burning of fuels for
power generation which causes CO2 emissions can
go a long way to reducing global warming. It is
improbable that one can design a project with zero
carbon emissions, but it is possible that once the
energy footprint is dramatically reduced, the remaining
emissions can be offset through outside sources,
essentially creating carbon-neutral site.There are many
carbon calculators available on-line to estimate the
carbon released for single person or family, but it is
recommended to hire an energy consultant to
determine an accurate amount of carbon emissions
for a large-scale project.
An energy-efficiency rating system sponsored by the
Environmental Protection Agency. A high Energy Star
rating means that the product is designed to minimize
its energy consumption. www.energystar.gov
FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL (FSC)
A third-party certification for wood, wood products
and forests.The FSC tracks the wood from its forest
of origin all the way through the chain of custody to
where the product is sold. An FSC certified product
has been harvested and produced in a stringently
eco-sensitive manner. www.fsc.org
A practice that works with nature
instead of against it.
LEADERSHIP IN ENERGY &
ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN (LEED)
Developed and administered by the U.S. Green
Building Council, the LEED rating system is the most
widely known and accepted green building
certification program. www.usgbc.org/leed
LIFE CYCLE ANALYSIS
The process of tracing a product, material or practice
from its origin through its final disposal or reuse, from
factory to landfill or recycling plant. Looking at the
whole picture is a tenet of green philosophy.
Many of those “new house” smells are actually
hazardous to our health.The emissions from building
materials and other products in the home accumulate
in the bloodstream and have been linked to increasing
rates of asthma and some cancers, particularly in
children.The best way to avoid off-gassing is to look
for natural products that don’t contain toxins such as
The amount of recycled (reused) material in a given
product. Post-industrial recycled content refers to the
use of scraps from industrial manufacturing. Postconsumer
content is the reuse of products that
consumers have used and thrown away.
Energy derived from the sun.The solar panels that
most of us associate with solar energy are called
photovoltaic panels; they transform the sun’s rays into
usable electricity. Solar thermal processes can be used
to heat our hot water.
meeting the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their needs.
VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUND (VOC)
The toxic or noxious chemicals that are found in or
released from paints, stains, adhesives and sealants.
Whenever possible, look for products labeled as
having Low, No or Zero VOCs.