Glossary of Key Terms


adapted plant

Vegetation that is not native to a particular region but that has characteristics that allow it to live in the area. Adapted plants do not pose the same problems as invasive species.

added antimicrobial treatment

Low-polluting, non-gasoline fuels such as electricity, hydrogen, propane, compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas, methanol, and ethanol

alternative fuel

Low-polluting, non-gasoline fuels such as electricity, hydrogen, propane, compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas, methanol, and ethanol

Alternative water source

Non-potable water from other than public utilities, on-site surface sources, and subsurface natural freshwater sources. Examples include graywater, on-site reclaimed water, collected rainwater, captured condensate, and rejected water from reverse osmosis systems (IgCC).


The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United States.


The American Society of Heating,Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is an organization devoted to the advancement of indoor-environment-control technology in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry.


ASHRAE 189.1 is an ANSI standard developed in model code language designed to provide code-enforceable mandatory minimum requirements for high-performance green buildings.

attendance boundary

The limits used by school districts to determine what school students attend based on where they live.


The Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) is a professional trade association. Member companies are the fabricators of fine finished woodwork, millwork, and furniture.


base building

Materials and products that make up the building or are permanently and semi-permanently installed in the project (e.g., flooring, casework, wall coverings)

baseline building performance

The annual energy cost for a building design, used as a baseline for comparison with above-standard design.

Baseline water consumption

A calculated projection of building water use assuming code-compliant fixtures and fittings with no additional savings compared with the design case or actual water meter data

basis of design (BOD)

The information necessary to accomplish the owner's project requirements, including system descriptions, indoor environmental quality criteria, design assumptions, and references to applicable codes, standards, regulations, and guidelines.

bio-based material

Commercial or industrial products (other than food or feed) that are composed in whole, or in significant part, of biological products, renewable agricultural materials (including plant, animal, and marine materials), or forestry materials. For the purposes of LEED, this excludes leather and other animal hides.


Wastewater containing urine or fecal matter that should be discharged to the sanitary drainage system of the building or premises in accordance with the International Plumbing Code. Wastewater from kitchen sinks (sometimes differentiated by the use of a garbage disposal), showers, or bathtubs is considered blackwater under some state or local codes.

bm trada certification ltd.

The Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) is an internationally recognised certification organization with head quarters located in London. Originally established to develop quality assurance schemes in the construction industry, BM TRADA has since expanded into all other industry sectors except nuclear and pharmaceuticals. BM TRADA has been renamed Exova BM TRADA. (see Exova BM TRADA)


Real property or the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or possible presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

bug rating

gA luminaire classification system that classifies luminaires in terms of backlight, uplight, and glare (taken from IES/IDA Model Lighting Ordinance). BUG ratings supersede the former cutoff ratings.

building exterior

A structure's primary and secondary weatherproofing system, including waterproofing membranes and air- and water-resistant barrier materials, and all building elements outside that system.

building interior

Everything inside a structure's weatherproofing membrane.


carbon offset

A unit of carbon dioxide equivalent that is reduced, avoided, or sequestered to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere (World Resources Institute).

chain of custody (Coc)

A procedure that tracks a product from the point of harvest or extraction to its end use, including all successive stages of processing, transformation, manufacturing, and distribution.


An intensive, multiparty workshop that brings people from different disciplines and backgrounds together to explore, generate, and collaboratively produce design options.

chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-based refrigerant

A fluid, containing hydrocarbons, that absorbs heat from a reservoir at low temperatures and rejects heat at higher temperatures. When emitted into the atmosphere, CFCs cause depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer.

classroom or core learning space

A space that is regularly occupied and used for educational activities. In such space, the primary functions are teaching and learning, and good speech communication is critical to students' academic achievement. (Adapted from ANSI S12.60)

closed-loop cooling

A system that acts as a heat sink for heat-rejecting building and medical equipment by recirculating water. Because the water is sealed within the system, some closed-loop cooling systems use non-potable water (such as recycled process water harvested from an air handler's cooling coil condensate).

construction impact zone

The project's development footprint plus the areas around the improvement where construction crews, equipment, and/or materials are staged and moved during construction

cradle-to-gate assessment

Analysis of a product's partial life cycle, from resource extraction (cradle) to the factory gate (before it is transported for distribution and sale). It omits the use and the disposal phases of the product.

current facilities requirements (CF)

The implementation of the owner's project requirements, developed to confirm the owner's current operational needs and requirements


densely occupied space

An area with a design occupant density of 25 people or more per 1,000 square feet (93 square meters)


A measure of the total building floor area or dwelling units on a parcel of land relative to the buildable land of that parcel. Units for measuring density may differ according to credit requirements. Does not include structured parking.

development footprint

The total land area of a project site covered by buildings, streets, parking areas, and other typically impermeable surfaces constructed as part of the project



A feeling of happiness, joy, exhilaration and euphoria. Often experienced by KR clients as a result of KR's performance, advice or guidance.

energy audit

A systematic analysis of a building’s energy use systems to identify cost effective improvements that will save energy.

environmental product declaration (EPD)

A standardized format document for presenting data from a life-cycle assessment of a particular material. A statement that the item meets the environmental requirements of ISO 14021-1999, ISO 14025-2006 and EN 15804, or ISO 21930-2007


Exova BM TRADA is the Exova Group’s dedicated certification division incorporating former leading global certification body (see BM TRADA Certification Ltd.)

extended producer responsibility

Measures undertaken by the maker of a product to accept its own and sometimes other manufacturers' products as post-consumer waste at the end of the products' useful life. Producers recover and recycle the materials for use in new products of the same type. To count toward credit compliance, a program must be widely available. For carpet, extended producer responsibility must be consistent with NSF/ANSI 140-2007. Also known as closed-loop program or product take-back.

extensive vegetated roof

A roof that is covered with plants and typically not designed for general access. Usually an extensive system is a rugged green roof that requires little maintenance once established. The planting medium in extensive vegetated roofs ranges from 1 to 6 inches in depth. (Adapted from U.S. EPA) exterior vegetated surface area the total area of vegetation on the project site, including vegetated roofs and turf grass.


floor-area ratio (FAR)

The density of nonresidential land use, exclusive of parking, measured as the total nonresidential building floor area divided by the total buildable land area available for nonresidential structures. For example, on a site with 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of buildable land area, an FAR of 1.0 would be 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of building floor area. On the same site, an FAR of 1.5 would be 15,000 square feet (1395 square meters), an FAR of 2.0 would be 20,000 square feet (1860 square meters), and an FAR of 0.5 would be 5,000 square feet (465 square meters).


The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international not-for-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests.

FSC Certified

Certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as harvested with sustainable forestry practices. CoC (Chain of Custody) must be shown. All millworkers using NEW wood must be FSC Certified.



"untreated household waste water which has not come into contact with toilet waste. Graywater includes used water from bathtubs, showers, bathroom wash basins, and water from clothes-washers and laundry tubs. It must not include waste water from kitchen sinks or dishwashers" (Uniform Plumbing Code, Appendix G, Gray Water Systems for Single-Family Dwellings)

"waste water discharged from lavatories, bathtubs, showers, clothes washers and laundry sinks" (International Plumbing Code, Appendix C, Gray Water Recycling Systems).

Some states and local authorities allow kitchen sink wastewater to be included in graywater. Other differences can likely be found in state and local codes. Project teams should comply with the graywater definition established by the authority having jurisdiction in the project area.

green infrastructure

A soil- and vegetation-based approach to wet weather management that is cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. Green infrastructure management approaches and technologies infiltrate, evapotranspire, capture and reuse storm water to maintain or restore natural hydrologies. (Adapted from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)



The inanimate elements of the building landscaping. It includes pavement, roadways, stonewalls, wood and synthetic decking, concrete paths and sidewalks, and concrete, brick, and tile patios.

heat island effect

The thermal absorption by hardscape, such as dark, non-reflective pavement and buildings, and its subsequent radiation to surrounding areas. Other contributing factors may include vehicle exhaust, air-conditioners, and street equipment. Tall buildings and narrow streets reduce airflow and exacerbate the effect.



An abbreviation for 'indoor environmental quality'





LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification.


LEED is the acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and the AP stands for Accredited Professional. The title LEED AP professional designations for those who have demonstrated a thorough understanding of green building techniques, environmental issues, the LEED program, and the certification process.

life-cycle assessment

An evaluation of the environmental effects of a product from cradle to grave, as defined by ISO 14040-2006 and ISO 14044-2006

light pollution

Waste light from building sites that produces glare, is directed upward to the sky, or is directed off the site. Waste light does not increase nighttime safety, utility, or security and needlessly consumes energy.


see Local Law 87

Local Law 87

In December 2009, under New York City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council signed Local Law 87, which requires covered buildings spanning 50,000 square feet or more to audit their energy consumption and conduct retro-commissioning of base building systems (including building envelope, boiler and domestic hot water, ventilation & lighting). It also applies to two or more buildings on the same tax lot or condo board that together exceed 100,000 square feet.


master plan boundary

The limits of a site master plan. The master plan boundary includes the project area and may include all associated buildings and sites outside of the LEED project boundary. The master plan boundary considers future sustainable use, expansion, and contraction.


An abbreviation for 'Minority Business Enterprise'. An MBE is defined as a business concern that is at least 51% owned by one or more individuals who are African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian-Pacific American or Asian-Indian American; and whose management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more of these owners.


native vegetation

A species that originates in, and is characteristic of, a particular region and ecosystem without direct or indirect human actions. Native species have evolved together with other species within the geography, hydrology, and climate of that region.


owner's project requirements (OPR)

A written document that details the ideas, concepts, and criteria determined by the owner to be important to the success of the project


post-consumer recycled content

Waste generated by households or commercial, industrial and institutional facilities in their role as end users of a product that can no longer be used for its intended purpose

pre-consumer recycled content

Matter diverted from the waste stream during the manufacturing process, determined as the percentage of material, by weight. Examples include planer shavings, sawdust, bagasse, walnut shells, culls, trimmed materials, overissue publications, and obsolete inventories. The designation excludes rework, regrind, or scrap materials capable of being reclaimed within the same process that generated them (ISO 14021). Formerly known as postindustrial content.

previously developed

Altered by paving, construction, and/or land use that would typically have required regulatory permitting to have been initiated (alterations may exist now or in the past). Land that is not previously developed and landscapes altered by current or historical clearing or filling, agricultural or forestry use, or preserved natural area use are considered undeveloped land. The date of previous development permit issuance constitutes the date of previous development, but permit issuance in itself does not constitute previous development.

previously developed site

A site that, prior to the project, consisted of at least 75% previously developed land

process water

Water that is used for industrial processes and building systems, such as cooling towers, boilers, and chillers. It can also refer to water used in operational processes, such as dishwashing, clothes washing, and ice making.



rainwater harvesting

The capture, diversion, and storage of rain for future beneficial use. Typically, a rain barrel or cistern stores the water; other components include the catchment surface and conveyance system. The harvested rainwater can be used for irrigation.

raw material

The basic substance from which products are made, such as concrete, glass, gypsum, masonry, metals, recycled materials (e.g., plastics and metals), oil (petroleum, polylactic acid), stone, agrifiber, bamboo, and wood

reclaimed water

Wastewater that has been treated and purified for reuse

renewable energy

Energy sources that are not depleted by use. Examples include energy from the sun, wind, and small (low-impact) hydropower, plus geothermal energy and wave and tidal systems.

renewable energy credit (REC)

A tradable commodity representing proof that a unit of electricity was generated from a renewable resource. RECs are sold separately from electricity itself and thus allow the purchase of green power by a user of conventionally generated electricity.


salvaged material

A construction component recovered from existing buildings or construction sites and reused. Common salvaged materials include structural beams and posts, flooring, doors, cabinetry, brick, and decorative items.

site assessment

An evaluation of an areas above ground and sub-surface characteristics, including its structures, geology, and hydrology. Site assessments typically help determine whether contamination has occurred and the extent and concentration of any release of pollutants. Remediation decisions rely on information generated during site assessments.

site master plan

An overall design or development concept for the project and associated (or potentially associated) buildings and sites. The plan considers future sustainable use, expansion, and contraction. The site master plan is typically illustrated, with building plans (if applicable), site drawings of planned phased development, and narrative descriptions.

solar reflectance (SR)

The fraction of solar energy that is reflected by a surface on a scale of 0 to 1. Black paint has a solar reflectance of 0; white paint (titanium dioxide) has a solar reflectance of 1. The standard technique for its determination uses spectrophotometric measurements, with an integrating sphere to determine the reflectance at each wavelength. Determine the SR of a material by using the Cool Roof Rating Council Standard (CRRC-1).

solar reflectance index (SRI)

A measure of the constructed surface's ability to stay cool in the sun by reflecting solar radiation and emitting thermal radiation. It is defined such that a standard black surface (initial solar reflectance 0.05, initial thermal emittance 0.90) has an initial SRI of 0, and a standard white surface (initial solar reflectance 0.80, initial thermal emittance 0.90) has an initial SRI of 100. To calculate the SRI for a given material, obtain its solar reflectance and thermal emittance via the Cool Roof Rating Council Standard (CRRC-1). SRI is calculated according to ASTM E 1980. Calculation of the aged SRI is based on the aged tested values of solar reflectance and thermal emittance.



The Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) is an internationally recognized center of excellence on the specification and use of timber and wood products. 
TRADA formally became a Research Association in 1962. Prior to this it was simply the Timber Development Association (TDA). TRADA was later named BM TRADA.



United States Green Building Council




An abbreviation for 'Women Business Enterprise'. A WBE is defined as a business concern that is at least 51% owned by one or more women and whose management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more of these owners.


An area that is inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances does support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas, but exclude irrigation ditches unless delineated as part of an adjacent wetland.



Landscaping that does not require routine irrigation



zero lot line project

A plot whose building footprint typically aligns or nearly aligns with the site limits