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GLOSSARY OF ECOLOGICAL DESIGN TERMS

"In its broadest scope, sustainability refers to the ability of a society, ecosystem, or any such on-going system to continue functioning into the indefinite future without being forced into decline through the exhaustion or overloading of key resources on which that system depends."

Robert Gilman

Active Solar uses mechanical devices to transfer collected heat from the sun to storage mediums and/or end use.

Bamboo is a fast-growing, very strong, and beautiful building material. Bamboo flooring is harder and more stable then maple. 

Buildings Reborn is the adaptation of old buildings for uses different from their original purpose. See "Buildings Reborn: New Uses, Old Places," by Barbaralee Diamonstein.

Constructed Wetland is a human-made habitat for waterfowl and other life, often using greywater or rainwater catchment overflow. 

Composting allows vegetable material to decompose into clean, organic fertilizer. 

Ecological Design minimizes the environmental destructive impact by integrating itself with living processes. 

Engineered Lumber uses small pieces of wood and glue to create strong dimensional pieces that are often used instead of cut wood.

Grade Beam is a concrete footing poured on top of the ground, usually over a Rubble Trench or between concrete pilings. 

Green is a way of doing business that works with nature instead of against it. 

Green Roofs use a lightweight medium to support low-growing plants. They provide evaporative cooling, convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, and reduce stormwater runoff. 

Greywater is waste water from sinks and washing machines, used to flush toilets or irrigate landscaping. 

Heat Recovery Ventilation reclaims the heat from warm exhaust air exiting a building, and pre-heats entering fresh air.

Historic Image Restoration is the renovation of a building or community that saves and restores the historic image and energy of a place. 

Holistic Design is a comprehensive and highly-integrated approach toward the making of places. It recognizes that the built environment has a powerful and pervasive influence upon us, and effects us physically, emotionally, and spiritually in uncounted ways.

Hydronic Heating is a radiant heat system that distributes hot water through pipes, either to radiators or through a thermal mass floor. The floor absorbs heat and evenly radiates it to the living space. 

Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) are a leave-in-place system built from insulating materials. They can be used for basements or above-grade walls. For more information visit Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs).

Oriented Strand Board (OSB) uses small chips of wood scraps and glue to create strong sheet material that is often used in place of plywood. 

Passive Solar uses the sun to directly heat water, or the interior of a building, using natural heat-transfer mechanisms such as conduction and air convention currents. 

Permaculture Design is a system of assembling conceptual, material, and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all forms.

Photovoltaics (PVs) are solid-state cells (typically made from silicon) that directly convert sunlight into electricity.

Rainwater Catchment is a method of collecting rain and snow melt in a cistern for use during the dry season. 

Recycled Wall Systems are walls or wall forms made from previously-used materials. 

Reused Components are quality structural or finish materials removed from old buildings and reused in new or remodeled buildings. 

Rubble Trench is a base of compacted stone, on which a grade beam is placed, that extends below the frost line. 

Straw-Bale Construction uses an annually renewable agricultural waste product to build thick, super-insulated walls. Bales can be taken directly from a baling machine or can be re-compressed for higher density. For more information visit Straw Bale.

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are made from solid foam insulation sandwiched between two sheets of oriented strand board. SIPs are used for roof, wall, and floor structure, use less wood, and have high insulation value. For more information visit Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs).

Sustainable means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are highly evaporative chemical substances that produce noxious fumes. VOCs are found in many paints, caulks, stains, vinyl products, and adhesives. 

Xeriscaping uses native, drought-tolerant plants to create low-maintenance landscaping.

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