Green Words for the 21st Century


Radiactive Forcings:  Climate influences that drive temperatures up or down. An example of a cooling force would be the addition of black aerosols into the atmosphere.
Radon: (Rn)  An odorless radioactive gas formed during the decay of uranium. It is abundant in certain hard rock and soil. Radon is a leading cause of lung cancer.
Rankine cycle: A power plant steam engine consisting of a closed series of four processes: (1) liquid pressurization (2) heating/evaporation (3) vapor expansion which generates power (4) condensation/cooling. This type of turbine produces about 80% of all the electric power used throughout the world.
Recycling:  The process of collecting discarded materials, sorting, processing and then converting the discarded materials into raw materials and reusing them in the production of new products.
Renewable Energy:  Energy obtained from inexhaustible sources, like the sun and wind.
Renewable Energy Certificate: Certifies the generation of one MW hour of electricity from a clean energy source.
Renewable Portfolio Standards:  Require utilities to generate or purchase a certain percentage of their energy from renewable resources.
Rotor Diameter: The diameter of the circle swept by the rotor, which is the rotating part of a wind turbine.
RSS: Really Simple Syndication is an XML-based format for content distribution. RSS feeds supply news content as it becomes available.
R-Value: A measure of insulating ability. The higher the R-value the less heat loss.


Second Generation Biofuels:  Biofuels extracted from biomass or non-edible plants.  Third generation biofuel is sourced from algae.
Semantic Web: An 'intelligent' extension of the Web that will allow the user to access, share, and combine information more easily.
Silvopasture:  The integration of trees, forage and livestock.
Sick Building Syndrome: A term used to define particular symptoms that affect a percentage of building occupants during the time they are in the building- but diminish or go away  when they leave the building.
Slimes (subsurface lithoautotrophic microbial ecosystems): Subsurface microorganisms that occupy pores in rock (lithoautotrophic means 'gets all its energy from rocks') and derive their energy from chemical synthesis and not from photosynthesis. Those slimes found so far on Earth, (in the Indian Ocean) use hydrogen generated by the rocks as food.
Smog: A dense and visible haze caused primarily by particulate matter and ozone.
Snow Line:  A line above which snow and ice cover the ground throughout the whole year.
Socioenvironmental: When social systems and their energy mechanizations are in harmony with the environment.
Solar Thermal Power: The focusing of sunlight to heat a fluid,  which in turn makes steam, which then runs a turbine generator.
Sox and Nox:  Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
Specific Absorption Rate (SAR): is a measure of how much radiation is absorbed by the body when a mobile phone is sending a signal to its network.
SRES Scenarios -Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES):  Scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to explore a range of potential future greenhouse gas emissions projections over the 21st century and their subsequent implications for global climate change.
Stakeholder:  All parties that have a direct or indirect interest, financial or otherwise, in an entity or company and its activities, decisions or policies.
STARS:  Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Stratosphere:  The region of the Earth's atmosphere 10-50 km above the surface of the planet.
Sulfate Particles: Polluting particulate matter which is light in color and therefore reflects heat.
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2):  Is produced when fossil fuels high in sulfur are burned during industrial processes.
After traveling in the atmosphere it returns to earth with precipitation as acid rain.
Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6): A synthetic industrial gas and one of the six types of greenhouse gases to be curbed under the Kyoto Protocol.  Emission sources include heavy industry uses such as high-voltage equipment insulation and the manufacturing of cable-cooling systems.  SF6's Global Warming Potential is estimated to be 22,200 times that of CO2, and has an atmospheric lifetime of 3,200 years.
Surging Glacier:  A short-lived periodic hastening of a glacier at rates as fast as 100 times the norm
Sustainable Packaging: One or preferably all of the following; biodegradable, compostable and made from renewable resources.
Sustainability Reporting:  Is the practice of measuring, being accountable for, and the disclosing of organizational performance, with a goal of sustainable development.
Sustainable Development (SD): Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising future generations.
Swamp Gas: When water cuts off the oxygen supply to soil, such as in peat bogs, mud flats, marshes, wetlands and swamps, this leads to anaerobic digestion or fermentation of organic matter, which creates methane.
Syngas:  A synthetically produced  mixture of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2) which is the product of high temperature gasification processes. Used in cleaner coal technologies.
Synthetic Biology: Genome nanotechnology combined with genetically modified engineering which has the potential to design and build  modified or completely new forms of life.


Techno Utopianism:  The belief that science and technology will solve all problems and bring about an ideal world.
A terawatt (TW) is a unit of power equivalent to 1 trillion Watts (1,000,000,000,000 or 1012).
Terra Nullius: An inhabitable no-man's land.
Theoretical Potential: The highest level of potential.
Thermal Power Plant:  A facility that uses heat to power an electric generator. The heat may be supplied by fossil fuels, biomass or other fuel, by nuclear fission, or by solar or geothermal sources.
Thermal Solar Power: The use of solar energy to heat liquid. There are low, medium, and high temperature collectors. Low and medium temperature flat panel collectors are used residentially and commercially to heat water. There are currently three major types of high temperature collectors (tower power, parabolic dish, and parabolic trough) these use lenses and reflectors to concentrate the sun's energy to heat water and thereby run a turbine which generates electricity. Unlike PV solar cells that use silicon and chemicals to convert solar energy directly into electricity, high-temperature thermal solar uses heat to power an electric generator.
Thermohaline Circulation: Water put into motion by differences in temperature (thermo-) and salinity (haline).
Third Generation Biofuel:  Biofuel sourced from algae.
Thirty-year time lag: The climate takes 30 years to respond to emitted carbon.
Toxicokinetics: The tracking of the intake of toxic substances, the changes they make, their distribution into the tissues, and the elimination of the toxins and their metabolites from the body.
Tracer Gases: Gases which are used to identify suspected pollutant pathways.
Transfer Emissions:  The environmental costs of products produced in one country and then exported to another.
Trichloroethylene: From the Department of Health and Human Services ToxFAQs:
A highly toxic chlorinated hydrocarbon today mainly used as a solvent and degreaser. In the past it has been used as an anesthetic, as an extractor of vegetable oils, a decaffeinater of coffee and as a dry cleaning agent.
From the Department of Health and Human Services ToxFAQs:
"Drinking or breathing high levels of trichloroethylene may cause nervous system effects, liver and lung damage, abnormal heartbeat, coma, and possibly death. Trichloroethylene has been found in at least 852 of the 1,430 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Trichloroethylene is not thought to occur naturally in the environment. However, it has been found in underground water sources and many surface waters as a result of the manufacture, use, and disposal of the chemical."
Triple Bottom Line: A companies responsibility to its social and environmental performance added to its economic bottom line. The gestalt of "people, planet, profit".  
Tropospheric Ozone (or ground-level ozone): Creates smog. It is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs), oxygen and nitrogen oxides react in the presence of sunlight. Though ozone is beneficial in the stratosphere, ground-level ozone is a respiratory irritant and air pollutant.
Turbine:  A motor whose blades are rotated by the forced movement of a liquid, such as water, or a gas, such as steam.


Ultracapacitors: Electrochemical polarized capacitors that store energy and are capable of never ending cycles of charge and discharge. Currently being developed as an energy devise in numerous motor vehicle applications such as recovery of braking energy.
Ultrafine Aerosols. Particles smaller than 100 nanometers- easily find a home deep in the lungs.
Ultra fine aerosols also form a core upon which cloud droplets form affecting density of cloud cover.
U-Value: The measurement of heat loss through a wall, ceiling or floor. The lower number the better, as the lower the U-Value, the slower the heat loss.


Vampire Energy: The energy used by electronics when supposedly turned off or not in use. Today's TVs, DVD players, computers/printers, stereos, microwaves, coffee machines, etc...all draw energy, when in off mode or stand-by, unless unplugged or switched of via a power strip.
Virtual Water: The measurement of water that is integral in the production and trade of food and consumer products.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Are chemical compounds that vaporize (become a gas) at room temperature and enter the atmosphere. Formaldehyde, benzenes, ketones, alcohols and hydrocarbons are just a few of the thousands of common VOC's. VOCs are found in building materials, furnishings, cleaning products, gasoline, newspaper, air fresheners,  cosmetics, tobacco smoke etc. VOCs are also produced during the combustion of fuel and react with NOx in the presence of sunlight and form ground level ozone. Many VOCs are cancer causing.


Walkable Urbanism: Car-less recreation and living. Environments with a mixture of offerings, such as parks, schools and entertainment are all in close proximity.
Waste Reduction: Decreasing the amount of waste at its source.
Water and Diamonds Paradox: We cannot live without water- it is extremely valuable, but its monetary value is low. For diamonds the opposite is true.
Water Mass: A distinguishable body of water with certain characteristics distinct from its surrounding water. Its measured characteristics could be temperature, salinity, chemicals, etc
Some major water masses in the oceans are: Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW), North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW), Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW), etc.
Web 2.0: Interactive multi-media software using the network as platform.  It consumes and remixes data from multiple sources and then allows remixing by others. It becomes richer as more people use it. Web 2.0 has been called an "architecture of participation" or domain of 'Mass amatuerization".
Wind-Driven Circulation: Large-scale ocean circulation resulting from the movement of winds.
Whole building Design: A way of building that considers the gestalt of architecture, eco-engineering and the buildings environment from day one of the design phase.
World Ecological Footprint: The use of natural resources as expressed in planets needed to fulfill humankind's demands.


Xenoestrogens:  Chemicals that mimic estrogen.
Xylene: An aromatic hydrocarbon used to increase octane. After making its way out of the tailpipe it reacts with sunshine and causes smog
Zero Emissions:  Aims for maximal utilization of materials and zero emissions of harmful substances.




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