To be an environmentalist, it all starts with educating yourself on the ideas and techniques associated with carbon neutrality, green building and sustainability. You will soon find out that there is a lot more to “being green” than just supporting alternative energies, in fact true sustainability deals much more with low tech applications that harmonize with nature and the natural order of things.
So, in order to help you understand the depth of this field, I decided to put together a small list of terms and their respective definitions.
Bioremediation: The use of living organisms (eg, bacteria & plants) to clean up oil spills or remove other pollutants from soil, water, and wastewater, use of organisms such as non-harmful insects to remove agricultural pests or counteract diseases of trees, plants, and garden soil.
Black Water: Waste water generated by toilets, kitchen sinks, and dishwashers.
Carbon Neutrality: The state of being carbon neutral where an effective means of offsetting greenhouse gases has been implemented. It establishes that the claimed reductions in emissions, or carbon sequestration, has actually occurred and is stable.
Carbon Offsets: The process of reducing the net carbon emissions of an individual or organization, either by their own actions, or through arrangements with a carbon offset provider.
Climate Change:The variation in the Earth’s global climate or in regional climates over time. It describes changes in the average state of the atmosphere over time scales ranging from decades to millions of years. These changes can be caused by processes internal to the Earth, external forces or, more recently, human activities.
Global Warming: The observed increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation.
Gray Water: Wastewater produced from baths and showers, clothes washers, and lavatories: In Green buildings, it can be used for irrigation and flushing toilets.
Green Building: The practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use and harvest energy, water, and materials, and reducing building impacts on human health and the environment, through better site placement, design, construction, operation and maintenance.
Hydro-Electricity: The production of electricity by harnessing the power of flowing water, usually through the use of a waterwheel
Hydronic Heating: In-floor hot water heating system where hot water is pumped through a thermal mass floor which absorbs the heat and evenly radiates the over an extended period of time.
Passive Solar: The technology of heating and cooling a building naturally, through the use of energy efficient materials, and proper site placement of the structure.
Permaculture: The design of sustainable human habitats. It is based on the observation of natural systems and uses ecological principles to increase diversity and productivity of local human ecosystems. Permaculture designs incorporate food, energy, and shelter for people and animals while linking the needs and outputs of each element of the system. The result is a dynamic yet stable system that sustains itself.
Photovoltaics: The solar panels used to harness the suns energy, and turn it electricity that can be stored in batteries and used to power a homes electrical systems.
Rainwater Harvesting: The act of capturing and using rainwater for indoor needs, irrigation, or both.
Renewable: When a resource comes into being through a relatively fast-acting natural processes (rain is an example).
Sustainable: Land management practices that provide goods and services from an ecosystem without degradation of the site quality, and without a decline in the yield of goods and services over time.
Wind Turbine: A tower mounted alternator that collects wind energy and converts it to electricity which is transferred to your houses breaker panel, allowing you to rely on your existing utility power supply as only a backup.