Green Terms

Alternative Energy
Usually environmentally friendly, this is energy from uncommon sources such as wind power or solar energy, not fossil fuels.

Alternative Fuels
Similar to alternative energy. Not fossil fuels, but different transportation fuels like natural gas, methanol, bio fuels and electricity.

Substances which, when left alone, break down and are absorbed into the eco-system.

Carbon emissions
Refers to polluting carbon compounds that are released into the atmosphere, usually as a result of human activity such as burning fossil fuels.

Carbon Footprint
A measure of the impact on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide.

Carbon Neutral
A company, person, or action either not producing any carbon emissions or, if it does, having been offset elsewhere.

Carbon offsetting
The act of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions by funding projects that reduce their impact, such as sustainable power generation, changes in land use and forestry.

Compact Fluorescent Lamp
A compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), also known as a compact fluorescent light bulb is a type of fluorescent lamp designed to replace an incandescent lamp. Compared to incandescent lamps of the same luminous flux, CFLs use less energy and have a longer rated life. In the United States, a CFL can save over $30 in electricity costs over the lamp’s lifetime compared to an incandescent lamp and save 2000 times their own weight in greenhouse gases.

A process whereby organic wastes, including food and paper, decompose naturally, resulting in a produce rich in minerals and ideal for gardening and farming as a soil conditioner, mulch, resurfacing material, or landfill cover.

Preserving and renewing, when possible, human and natural resources.

Conventional Power
Power that is produced from non-renewable fuels, such as coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear material. Conventional fuels are finite resources that cannot be replenished once they are extracted and used.

Corporate social responsibility
A concept whereby an organization considers the welfare and interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their operations on their customers, community, stakeholders and the environment.

Cotton paper
Cotton papers are superior in both strength and durability to wood pulp-based papers, which often contain high concentrations of destructive acids.

An evaluation of your home or workplace with the aim of cutting your energy and water usage.

Energy Star
A joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

Energy Efficiency
Refers to products or systems using less energy to do the same or better job than conventional products or systems. Energy efficiency saves energy, saves money on utility bills, and helps protect the environment by reducing the demand for electricity.

Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF)
Paper made from virgin or recycled fiber that is bleached using alternative Chlorine compounds as a substitute for elemental Chlorine.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
An international organization that has developed standards emphasizing environmentally- and socially-responsible criteria to certify and label wood products from well-managed forests.

Fossil Fuels
Fossil fuels are the nation’s principal source of electricity. The popularity of these fuels is largely due to their low costs. Fossil fuels come in three major forms— coal, oil, and natural gas. Because fossil fuels are a finite resource and cannot be replenished once they are extracted and burned, they are not considered renewable.

Fuel Cell
A technology that uses an electrochemical process to convert energy into electrical power. Often powered by natural gas, fuel cell power is cleaner than grid-connected power sources. In addition, hot water is produced as a by-product.

Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)
An organism whose genetic material has been altered using the genetic engineering techniques generally known as Recombinant DNA technology. Sustainable soy ink uses non-GMO soybean oil.

Global Climate Change
Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer).

Green Tags
(See Renewable Energy Certificates.)

Greenhouse Effect
The process whereby greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun, keeping the Earth’s surface and atmosphere warmer than it should be.

Greenhouse Gases
The gases in the atmosphere that absorb and emit radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect.  Greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

The practice of making misleading or unsubstantiated claims about the environmental benefits of a product or service. This term is commonly used when describing what corporations do when they try to make themselves look more environmentally friendly than they really are.

Gray Water
Residential wastewater — from household processes such as dish washing, bathing, and laundry — that does not contain serious pollutants and can be recycled to water plants or wash cars.

Hybrid Car
A car that uses two forms of power — an internal combustion engine and an electric motor.

Energy generated by moving water. Typically refers to dams but can also mean harnessing ocean waves.

An Indian plant with long fibers in its bark suitable for papermaking.

Kyoto Protocol
An agreement made under the United Nations Framework on Climate Change. Countries that ratify this protocol commit to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases, or engage in emissions trading if they maintain or increase emissions of these gases.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

Life Cycle Assessment
A methodology developed to assess a product’s full environmental costs, from raw material to final disposal.

Ozone Layer
In the upper atmosphere about 15 miles above sea level, it forms a protective layer which shields the earth from excessive ultraviolet radiation and occurs naturally.

Peak Demand
The maximum power consumption for a facility, measured over a short time period such as 15 minutes or an hour.

Post-Consumer Waste (PCW)
Waste collected after the consumer has used and disposed of it.

Processed Chlorine Free (PCF)
Paper is made from fiber recycled from post-consumer waste (PCW) and unbleached or bleached without Chlorine compounds. PCF paper is the most environmentally friendly type.

Recycled paper
Paper made from old paper that has been de-inked and processed chemically.

The process of collecting, sorting, and reprocessing old material into usable raw materials.

Renewable Energy Certificates
Also known as RECs, green tags, green energy certificates, or tradable renewable certificates, certificates represent the technology and environmental attributes of electricity generated from renewable sources. Renewable energy credits are usually sold in 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) units. A certificate can be sold separately from the mega-watt hour of generic electricity it is associated with. This flexibility enables customers to offset a percentage of their annual electricity use with certificates generated elsewhere.

Renewable Energy Resources
Energy sources that can keep producing energy indefinitely without being used up. To be considered renewable energy, a resource must rely on naturally existing energy flows such as sunshine, wind and water flowing. The energy source, or “fuel”, must be replaced by natural processes at a rate that is equal to, or faster than, the rate at which the energy source is consumed.

Soy ink
An alternative to petroleum based ink that contains lower levels of VOCs and is biodegradable. Sustainable soy ink consists of non-GMO soybean oil.

The use of natural resources to meet present needs, without compromising those of future generations.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
An independent, international non-profit organization responsible for maintaining, overseeing and improving a sustainable forestry certification program that is internationally recognized and among the largest in the world. The standard is based on principles and measures that promote sustainable forest management and consider all forest values. It includes unique fiber sourcing requirements promoting responsible forest management on all suppliers’ lands.

Totally Chlorine Free (TCF)
Paper made from 100% virgin fiber (including alternative fiber from sources other than trees) that is unbleached or bleached with non-Chlorine compounds. TCF cannot apply to recycled papers, because the source fiber cannot be determined.

The practice of converting waste materials into products of greater value – beer bottles into building materials, for example.

Vegetable-based inks
Inks made from vegetable byproducts, including soy.

Virgin fiber
Wood fiber, or Paper pulp, that has never been recycled.

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)
A highly evaporative, carbon-based chemical substance, which produces noxious fumes; found in many paints, caulks, stains, and adhesives.