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Guide to Green Building Terms

Q: How do I know if something is green?

A: Look for these green building terms:

ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy in 2010 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars — all while saving nearly $18 billion on their utility bills.

GREEN LABEL is a Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) designation for carpets, cushions, and adhesives that meet high standards for low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. Green Label Plus products are the lowest emitting on the market.  Today, indoor air quality (IAQ) is an important environmental consideration, especially since we spend approximately 90 percent of our time indoors.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

PASSIVE SOLAR HEATING AND COOLING uses the sun’s energy to heat and cool your home by taking advantage of natural energy efficiencies. One example of passive solar heating and cooling is an overhang designed to block summer sun while letting in winter sun. Using several passive heating and cooling techniques can cut heating/cooling bills by as much as 50%.

SEER (Seasonal energy-efficiency ratio) rates air conditioners or heat pumps. All residential air conditioners sold in the United States today must have a SEER of at least 13. ENERGY STAR qualified central air conditioners must have a SEER of at least 14.

SUSTAINABILITY consists of making responsible choices that meet society’s present needs without compromising the long-term wellbeing of the Earth so future generations can meet their needs.  Sustainable buildings and building products are produced with a minimal amount of energy and packaging, function well over a long period of time, and can be repaired or recycled after use.

Just because someone says it’s green doesn’t mean it is green.


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2 Comments for Guide to Green Building Terms

  1. That’s way more clever than I was exgcteinp. Thanks!

  2. Hi Pepe – I’m glad you found this information helpful!

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