"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.

Faswall is an Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) for building insulated concrete foundations and walls that are made from recycled wood shipping pallets. For more information see

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

Grass Pervious Paving Block are concrete paving blocks with openings for planting of grass that allow rainwater to penetrate and low site runoff. See for more info here.

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. 

Green Wall is a wall partially or completely covered with vegetation that includes a growing medium, such as soil. Most green walls also feature an integrated water delivery system. Green walls are also known as living walls or vertical gardens. Such walls may be indoors or outside, freestanding or attached to an existing wall, and come in a great variety of sizes.

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).

LED is short for Light-Emitting Diode. It is a two-lead semiconductor light source. It is a pn-junction diode, which emits light when activated. When a suitable voltage is applied to the leads, electrons are able to recombine with electron holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. This effect is called electroluminescence, and the color of the light (corresponding to the energy of the photon) is determined by the energy band gap of the semiconductor. 

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 House - "Passivhaus" in German - refers to a rigorous, voluntary standard for energy efficiency in a building, reducing its ecological footprint. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling.

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. 

Rain Water Garden is a planted depression or a hole that allows rainwater runoff from impervious urban areas, like roofs, driveways, walkways, parking lots, and compacted lawn areas, the opportunity to be absorbed. This reduces rain runoff by allowing stormwater to soak into the ground as opposed to flowing into storm drains and surface waters which causes erosion, water pollution, flooding, and diminished groundwater. The purpose of a rain garden is to improve water quality in nearby bodies of water. 

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. 

SEER is the efficiency of air conditioners, which is often rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and is defined by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute in its 2008 standard AHRI 210/240, Performance Rating of Unitary Air-Conditioning and Air-Source Heat Pump Equipment. The SEER rating of a unit is the cooling output during a typical cooling-season divided by the total electric energy input during the same period. The higher the unit's SEER rating the more energy efficient it is.

Smart Growth covers a range of development and conservation strategies that help protect our health and natural environment and make our communities more attractive, economically stronger, and more socially diverse. In single family housing design, Smart Growth relates to the site planning of the house to the neighborhood, its streetscape, and the transition of design of spaces between public and private spaces, or public outdoor space to private indoor space.

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.

T5 is a low energy fluorescent tube lighting type. See Lighting Research Center for more info.

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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