7 green building terms

The green building movement doesn’t seem so green anymore. What was once considered simply the newest environmentally friendly trend has matured into a respected way of thinking about how we construct homes, schools, offices and other buildings. The idea that we should increase the efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of our buildings appears to have been adopted for the long term, so it’s worthwhile to learn the lingo. We’ve pulled together just a few of our favorite green building terms here:

1. AFUE
AFUE (Gesundheit!) is actually an acronym for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or the percentage of fuel a furnace uses that actually gets delivered as heat into your house. Every furnace sold in the US now must have an AFUE of at least 78 percent.

2. Cool roof
Any roof made to reflect sunlight to minimize temperature and therefore reduce interior cooling costs. We’ll use it in a sentence: “Your cool roof is totally awesome, man!”

3. ENERGY STAR
Not the title of the latest reality show, ENERGY STAR is a government program that seeks to help consumers save money and protect the environment through energy efficiency.

4. Heat island effect
You know that relaxed feeling you get when you first arrive at a tropical vacation destination? That’s not the heat island effect. The heat island effect is typically seen in urban areas, where the temperature can be several degrees hotter than it is in surrounding, less developed areas. It is believed that the heat island effect can be mitigated through several green building measures, including cool roofs (see #2 above).

5. Graywater
The media’s moniker for the latest political scandal? No. Graywater is wastewater generated by dishwashing, laundering, bathing and other household activities. It isn’t as heavily polluted as “blackwater,” and some believe it should be reused for processes such as lawn watering.

6. LEED
GBPs (Green Building Proponents) really like acronyms. Here’s one you might be seeing a lot: LEED. It stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it’s a program created by the USGBC (United States Green Building Council) to rate new buildings on their environmental friendliness. More and more builders are seeking LEED certification for their projects.

7. Low-VOC
Many manufacturers now offer low-VOC paints, adhesives and coatings that have had most of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) removed to reduce indoor air pollution.

 

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