Green Lexicon


In the context of green building, the term refers to the Earth’s ability to sustain its ecological processes. To be sustainable, the Earth’s resources must be used at a rate at which they can be replenished. Sustainable buildings strive to meet the present needs without compromising the ability to meet those needs in the future.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Indoor air pollution in homes or commercial buildings usually comes from sources that release gasses or chemicals inside the building. Inadequate ventilation can increase pollutant levels to the point where both short-term irritation and long-term symptoms may develop.

Carbon Footprint

A measure of the impact our activities have on climate change. A building’s carbon footprint measures the amount of greenhouse gases produced through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating, etc

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

The evaluation of the environmental impact of a particular product that takes into account its entire life cycle, from raw material extraction through production, operation, and demolition.

Renewable Energy

Energy generated from resources that are naturally replenished, such as solar, wind, tides, and geothermal energy.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects.

HERS Index

A scoring system established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) in which a home 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. The lower a home’s HERS Index, the more energy-efficient it is.

International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)

Building code established by the International Code Council (ICC) that gives minimum design and construction requirements for energy efficiency. The IECC is a model code that is used by many local code jurisdictions.


ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to promote energy-efficient homes to potential home buyers through the recognizable ENERGY STAR label. All ENERGY STAR homes have third party verification that demonstrates a minimum of 15% energy savings over the 2004 IECC.