Adaptation.  Adaptation is the collective set of actions taken to respond to climate change and variability. These actions include alterations in behavior as well as changes in the use of resources and the application of technologies.

Affected community. Any community, in addition to the host community, that may experience positive or negative effects from the project’s design, planning, construction, operation, or demolition.

Aquifer. A formation, group of formations, or part of a formation that contains sufficient saturated, permeable material to yield significant quantities of water to wells and springs. (Source: USGS)

Area of influence. The area surrounding a well within which the potentiometric surface has been lowered due to aquifer pumping. This may be a transient or steady-state condition depending on the volume and duration of pumping. (Source: Hydrology Handbook, ASCE)

ASHRAE. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers.

Backsliding. The process by which sustainability performance of a given system is degraded, resulting from failure to follow the required operations and maintenance procedures needed to maintain performance.

Benchmark. A standard by which something can be measured or judged. In the case of the rating system, it stands for conventional or state of the practice procedures and methodologies used in infrastructure design and construction.

Best Management Practice. A Best Management Practice (BMP) is a technique, process, activity, or structure used to reduce the pollutant content of a storm water discharge. BMPs include simple nonstructural methods, such as good housekeeping and preventive maintenance. BMPs may also include structural modifications, such as the installation of bioretention measures. BMPs are most effective when used in combination with each other, and customized to meet the specific needs (drainage, materials, activities, etc.) of a given operation. The focus of EPA’s general permits is on preventive BMPs, which limit the release of pollutants into storm water discharges. BMPs can also function as treatment controls. (Source: U.S. EPA)

Bioavailability. The fraction of a substance existing in the environment that reaches and can be absorbed by living systems. Bioavailability refers to the difference between the amount of a substance, such as a drug, herb, or chemical, to which a living system is exposed and the actual dose of the substance the living system receives. Bioavailability accounts for the difference between exposure and dose.

Biodiversity. The degree of variation of life forms in an environment, such as an ecosystem or biome. Biodiversity is one measure of health of ecosystems. Biological diversity can include species diversity, ecosystem diversity, and genetic diversity.

Biom. Major regional or global community produced or caused by living organisms., such as a grassland or desert, characterized chiefly by the dominant forms of plant life and the prevailing climate.

Bioretention. It is the process in which contaminants and sedimentation are removed from stormwater runoff. Stormwater is collected into the treatment area which consists of a grass buffer strip, sand bed, ponding area, organic layer or mulch layer, planting soil, and plants. Runoff passes first over or through a sand bed, which slows the runoff’s velocity, distributes it evenly along the length of the ponding area, which consists of a surface organic layer and/or groundcover and the underlying planting soil. The ponding area is graded, its center depressed. Water is ponded to a depth of 15 cm (5.9 in) and gradually infiltrates the bioretention area or is evapotranspired. The bioretention area is graded to divert excess runoff away from itself. Stored water in the bioretention area planting soil exfiltrates over a period of days into the underlying soils.

BMP. See Best Management Practices.

BPS See By-product synergy.

Brownfields. Abandoned or underused industrial and commercial sites usually containing low levels of environmental pollution, such as hazardous waste or industrial by-products. Brownfield sites have the potential to be reused once they are cleaned up, but cleaning the contamination may pose regulatory and monetary challenges. Brownfield sites are typically located in areas with existing infrastructure and/or transportation, which makes them more sustainable sites for development than Greenfield sites.

Buffer zones. A zonal area that lies between two or more other areas to segregate them to enhance the protection of areas under management, typically for their biodiversity importance. Buffer zones may be around the periphery of an area or may connect two or more protected areas. Buffer zones are intended to mitigate negative environmental or human influences in areas of greater ecological value.

By-product synergy. By-Product Synergy (BPS) is the matching of under-valued waste or by-product streams from one facility with potential users at another facility to create new revenues or savings with potential social and environmental benefits. The resulting collaborative network creates new revenues, cost savings, energy conservation, reductions in the need for virgin-source materials, and reductions in waste and pollution, including climate-changing emissions. These are quantifiable benefits to the environment, economy and communities.
The BPS process breaks down the barriers to cross-industry communication, as well as the barriers between government and industry and between small and large companies, by fostering dialogue and working across groups to identify supply chain localization and waste minimization opportunities. (Source: Bridging the Gap®,, accessed on March 7, 2012)

C2C See Cradle to Cradle

Candela. A unit of luminous intensity in a given direction, defined by a physical process that will produce one candela of luminous intensity. The candela is the “luminous intensity of a source that emits monochromatic radiation of frequency 540 x 10^12 hertz and that has a radiant intensity in that direction of 1/683 watt per steradian.”

Carbon dioxide equivalent (expressed as CO2Eq, CO2e, CDE). The measure of how much global warming a given type and amount of greenhouse gas may cause, using the functionally equivalent amount or concentration of carbon dioxide as the reference.

Carbon sequestration. The capture of carbon dioxide, including the removal from the atmosphere and depositing in a reservoir. This long-term storage of carbon dioxide can help mitigate or defer global warming and avoid climate change and slow the atmospheric and marine accumulation of greenhouse gases.

CEEQUAL. The assessment and awards scheme for improving sustainability in civil engineering, infrastructure, landscaping and public realm projects based in the UK. It is promoted by the Institution of Civil Engineers. CEEQUAL is available in three versions – for UK and Ireland projects, for International projects, and for Term Contracts. Projects are awarded points to achieve levels of awards. CEEQUAL covers topics such as project management, ecology and biodiversity, history, nuisances for neighbors, and relationships with the community, as well as typical markers of sustainability such as water and energy use.

Climate. Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The classical period for averaging these variables is 30 years, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization. The relevant quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation and wind. Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate system. In various chapters in this report different averaging periods, such as a period of 20 years, are also used. See: climate system.

Climate Change. Climate change refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g. using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may result from:
• natural factors, such as changes in the sun’s intensity or slow changes in the Earth’s orbit around the sun;
• natural processes within the climate system (e.g. changes in ocean circulation);
• human activities that change the atmosphere’s composition (e.g. through burning fossil fuels) and the land surface (e.g. deforestation, reforestation, urbanization, desertification, etc.)
The Earth’s climate has changed frequently over geological history. But at the present time of particular concern is the issue known as global warming. Global warming is an average increase in the temperature of the atmosphere near the Earth’s surface and in the lowest layer of the atmosphere. Past climate information suggests the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1,300 years in the Northern Hemisphere. Global warming can occur from a variety of causes, both natural and human induced. The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) scientists, U.S. Climate Change Science Program researchers, among other scientists, published findings indicating that there is a greater than 90 percent chance that most of the warming we have experienced since the 1950s is due to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Increases in temperatures in our Earth’s atmosphere can contribute to further changes in global climate patterns. In particular, a considerable number of scientists predict that such an increase in temperature would impact global climate in three key ways: changes in long-term average annual conditions (mean temperature or annual precipitation), increases in climate variability (fluctuations in precipitation), and increases in more extreme weather events (frequency and severity); also that such an increase of temperature would cause polar ice caps and mountain glaciers to melt rapidly, significantly raising the levels of coastal waters. Other scientists maintain that such or some of such predictions are overstated. A considerable number of efforts have been undertaken to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from human activities and to prevent the damaging effects of climate change due to global warming, as for example the 1992 Earth Summit and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Note that the usage of the term Climate Change in this document aligns with the usage of the term by IPCC, USEPA, among others. Alternatively, this usage differs from that in other contexts, as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In particular at UNFCCC, in its Article 1, defines “climate change” as: “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.” The UNFCCC thus makes a distinction between “climate change” attributable to human activities altering the atmospheric composition, and “climate variability” attributable to natural causes.
See: global warming, greenhouse gases, greenhouse effect.

Climate system. The climate system is the highly complex system consisting of five major components: the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the land surface and the biosphere, and the interactions between them. The climate system evolves in time under the influence of its own internal dynamics and because of external forcings such as volcanic eruptions, solar variations and anthropogenic (i.e. relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings on nature) forcings such as the changing composition of the atmosphere and land use change.

CNEL. Community Noise Equivalent Level or CNEL is defined as the average level during a 24-hour day obtained by adding an additional 5 decibels to hourly noise levels in the evening (7 PM to 10 PM) and 10 decibels to hourly noise levels measured during the night (10 pm to 7 am).Noise measurements are taken at the nearest property boundary of the affected land use.

Community. See Host community, Affected community.

Configuration trap. Projects that create configurations highly vulnerable to extreme weather events, natural disasters, economic conditions, and/or actions by others. For example, placing infrastructure in coastal lowlands or in river floodplains places the community at high risk for sea surges or flooding, given changing climate conditions.

Cradle to cradle. Cradle to cradle principles include: (1) keeping harmful materials away from contact with humans or the environment, (2) recycling inorganic or synthetic materials (technical nutrients) in a continuous production-consumption loop without any loss of quality, and recycling organic materials to the extent practical (biological nutrients), then returning them to the natural environment where they can decompose into basic nutrients in the ecological cycle.

Credit. Each credit represents a focused action or series of actions to be taken to pursue points towards a final score. Credits are divided into five sections according to topic, and are worth a varying amount of points. Each credit contains multiple levels of achievement and one or more specific requirements that must be accomplished to meet each level of achievement and gain the specified points.
Credit, Related. Other credits within the Envision system that may have synergies, either in issues considered or actions for achievement. All related credits should be read and considered when pursuing the original credit. This allows for a greater holistic understanding of the sustainability of the entire project, and may make achievement of multiple credits easier.

Dark Sky. The night sky without man-made light pollution. For more information see the International Dark Sky Association’s website at

Deconstruction. Selective dismantling of building components, typically for re-use, recycling, and waste management. Differs from demolition, where a site is cleared by most expedient means, which creates significant waste and does not recapture the value of building components.

Disassembly. Dismantling or taking something apart. In this context, similar to “deconstruction” above, implying the maintenance of subsequent parts for value extraction through reuse or recycling. Differs from deconstruction, where the building or construction was not designed to be taken apart. Disassembly is used when the system, building or construction were designed to be taken apart.

Durability. The ability to resist wear and decay. Implies a longer life cycle, reducing the need for replacement with new goods and waste from worn-out goods.

Ecological aspects. The ecological aspects of the project involve the impacts of the project local wildlife (plants, animals).

Economic development. Efforts that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting or growing incomes and the tax base.

Economic growth. Increase in per capita or total income. Production of more goods and services with the same input of labor, capital, energy and materials.

Embodied energy. The embodied energy of a material or product is the sum of energy that was used in the production of the material or product, including raw material extraction, transport manufacture and all the undertaken processes until the material or product is completed and ready.

EPA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

ESC Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan

Farmland that is of statewide or local importance. Farmland, other than prime or unique farmland, used for the production of food feed, fiber, forage, or oilseed crops, as determined by the appropriate State or unit of local government agency or agencies and that the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture determines should be considered as farmland.

Five Capital model. “The Five Capitals model of Sustainable Development was developed by Forum for the Future in the 1990’s. It provides a way of looking at the various component parts of the development equation in such a way that decision makers, businessmen and developers can form balanced, ‘capital enhancing’ plans. The model describes the five capitals thus:
Natural capital: The natural resources (energy, environment and matter) and processes needed by organizations to produce their products and deliver their services.
Social capital: Any value added to the activities and economic outputs of an organization by human relationships, partnerships and co-operation.
Human capital: Incorporates the health, knowledge, skills, intellectual outputs, motivation and capacity for relationships of the individual.
Manufactured capital: Refers to material goods and infrastructure owned, leased or controlled by an organization such as tools, technology, machines, buildings and all forms of infrastructure.
Financial capital: Reflects the productive power and value of the other four types of capital and includes those assets of an organization that exist in a form of currency that can be owned or traded.
The Five Capitals approach provides a basis for understanding sustainable development in terms of the economic concept of wealth creation or ‘capital’. All organizations utilize these five types of capital to deliver their products or services. A sustainable organization will maintain and, where possible, enhance these stocks of capital assets, including the natural resources and the environment, rather than contribute to their depletion or degradation.”

Flexibility. Ability of a system to adapt itself to new circumstances, enabling easy reconfiguration and refurbishment, increasing the possibilities for alternative future uses and as a result allowing further extend its useful life.

Floodplain. Flat or nearly flat land adjacent to a stream or river that experiences flooding during periods of high discharge. Floodplains are formed by the natural meandering and flooding of streams and rivers and represents areas likely to experience regular flooding.

Forest Stewardship Council. An international not-for-profit organization to promote responsible management of the world’s forests through tools such as a forest management certification and a chain of custody certification, providing third-party verification for consumer products.

FSC. See Forest Stewardship Council.

Greenfields. Undeveloped land in a city or rural area being considered for urban development. This land may contain natural landscape, natural amenities, or agricultural land.

Global Warming. Global warming is an average increase in the temperature of the atmosphere near the Earth’s surface and in the troposphere (lowest layer of the atmosphere). In particular, the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) determined that warming of the Earth’s climate system is now “unequivocal” (i.e., “definite”). The IPCC bases this conclusion on observations of increases in average air and ocean temperatures, melting of snow and ice, and average sea level across the globe. Specifically, the global temperature record shows an average warming of about 1.3°F over the past century. Global warming can occur from a variety of causes, both natural and human induced.
Past climate information suggests the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1,300 years in the Northern Hemisphere. In its 2007 Fourth Assessment, the IPCC stated that it was now 90 percent certain that most of the warming observed over the previous half century could be attributed to greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activities (i.e. industrial processes and transportation). Further scientists, as for example the U.S. Climate Change Science Program researcher, published findings in agreement with this statement.
Global warming is part of climate change. Further increases in temperatures in our Earth’s atmosphere can contribute to further changes in global climate patterns. See: greenhouse gases, greenhouse effect, climate change.

Global Warming Potential (GWP). An index, describing the radiative characteristics of well-mixed greenhouse gases, that represents the combined effect of the differing times these gases remain in the atmosphere and their relative effectiveness in absorbing outgoing infrared radiation. This index approximates the time-integrated warming effect of a unit mass of a given greenhouse gas in today’s atmosphere, relative to that of carbon dioxide. See: greenhouse gas and global warming

Greenfields. Undeveloped land in a city or rural area being considered for urban development. This land may contain natural landscape, natural amenities, or agricultural land.

Greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic (i.e. resulting from the influence of human beings on nature), that absorb and emit radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of infrared radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere, and clouds. This property causes the greenhouse effect, that helps regulate the temperature of the earth. Water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), and ozone (O3) are the primary greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. Moreover there are a number of entirely human-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as the halocarbons and other chlorine- and bromine-containing substances, dealt with under the Montreal Protocol. Besides CO2, N2O, and CH4, the Kyoto Protocol deals with the greenhouse gases sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and perfluorocarbons (PFCs). See greenhouse effect.
Greenhouse effect. The Earth surface absorbs solar radiation, and emits infrared radiation. Some of the infrared radiation passes through the atmosphere and some is absorbed and re-emitted in all directions (including downward to the Earth’s surface) by greenhouse gases. This effect helps to regulate the temperature of the earth’s surface and the lower atmosphere. Increases in these gases, increase the heat trapped in the earth’s surface and atmosphere. (Detailed explanations on the radiative effects that occur in the earth´s surface and atmosphere related to the greenhouse effect can be found in numerous references, as for example IPCC web site:
In particular, human activities have added greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, enhancing the natural greenhouse effect. The enhanced greenhouse effect due to human activities very likely causes the Earth’s surface and lower atmosphere average temperature to rise. Specifically, in 2007 the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that it was now 90 percent certain that most of the warming observed over the previous half century (see global warming) could be attributed to greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activities. These additional greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil to power our cars, factories, power plants, homes, offices, schools, etc. Other human activities as, generating waste also produce greenhouse gases. See greenhouse gases, global warming.

Greyfields. Economically obsolescent, outdated, failing, moribund, and/or underused previously developed land. They are distinct from brownfields in that they typically do not require remediation in order to redevelop, but offer value through existing infrastructure and minimizing environmental impact on greenfields.

Habitat. An ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant, or other organism. It is the natural environment in which an organism lives, or which a species population influences and is utilized by.

HCVF. High conservation value forest is a FSC forest management designation used to describe forests which meet criteria defined by FSC Principles and Criteria of Forest Stewardship.

Heat islands (heat island effects). An urban area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to materials that cause heat accumulation and lack of vegetation, which cools through evapotranspiration. While the heat island effect has not proven to influence Earth´s global temperatures, it can increase the need for air conditioning and other forms of cooling that require energy.

Host community. The community in which the project is located and which it directly affects.

Hydrologic cycle. The continuous movement of water on, above, and below the surface of the earth and throughout various states of liquid, vapor, and solid.

Industry norms. Current industry regulatory standards for a particular activity.

Infrastructure. Infrastructure projects deliver the technical and physical structures (roads, bridges, water supplies and treatment works, dams, and more) required to support the community economy and contribute to the well-being of a community. Typically, they are long-lived, expected to last 30-70 years, depending on the type of structure and how it is maintained. In addition, their performance efficiency and effectiveness depends to a large degree on their fit and harmony with other elements of infrastructure, and their collective ability to adapt to change.

Infrastructure Traps. Characteristics built into an infrastructure project which may create difficult conditions within the life of the infrastructure, such as excess consumption of money, energy, or increased vulnerability to changing conditions. The three types of infrastructure traps are resource traps, configuration traps, or standards traps.

Integrated Pest Management. An effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. The IPM approach can be applied to both agricultural and non-agricultural settings, such as the home, garden, and workplace. IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options including, but not limited to, the judicious use of pesticides. In contrast, organic food production applies many of the same concepts as IPM but limits the use of pesticides to those that are produced from natural sources, as opposed to synthetic chemicals. (Reference: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Principles, )

Integrated project delivery. A project delivery approach that integrates people, systems, business structures, and practices in a way that collaboratively harnesses the talents of all participants at all stages to optimize results and maximize efficiency.

Karst topography. A geologic formation shaped by the dissolution of layers of bedrock, such as limestone or dolomite. Karst regions often display distinctive surface features such as sinkholes or caves, and may have limited surface water due to subterranean drainage.

Key stakeholders. Those people who are directly influential or will be directly influential on the outcome of the project, and whose input must be considered if the process is to be considered complete and transparent.

Knowledge capital. Health, knowledge, skills and motivation required for relationships of the individuals and productive work. Knowledge capital or Human capital is one of the capitals defined by the Five Capital model of sustainable development.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. A suite of rating systems for the design, construction, and operation of sustainable buildings, homes, and neighborhoods developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

LCA. Life Cycle Assessment. A technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all stages of a product’s life from raw material extraction through disposal or recycling.

LEED See Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

Levels of Achievement. Varying steps, increasing in difficulty, scope, effort, and/or complexity, that constitute the ways in which a user can achieve points within each credit. Levels of achievement build upon one another, and each subsequent level assumes the completion of the level below it in addition to the requirements for the higher level. Increasing levels of achievement reward increasing numbers of points.

LID (Low Impact Development). A method for managing stormwater runoff emphasizing conservation and the use of on-site natural features to protect water quality. LID uses small-scale controls to replicate the pre-development hydrologic regime of watersheds through infiltrating, filtering, storing, evaporating, and detaining runoff close to its source.

Net benefit. The sum of both positive benefits and negative aspects of a project, assuming that the value of the positive benefits outweigh the value of the negative aspects, making the project overall beneficial to various social, cultural, and environmental systems.

Night sky. The dark nighttime sky free of excess light pollution. See also dark sky.

Officials with jurisdiction. The official with authority over the location or system which is being affected by the project.

Persistence. The measure of resistance to degradation through chemical, biological, and photolytic processes, in this case in pesticides and other pollutants.

Pest. Organisms are considered to be pests when they cause problems in crops or livestock, compete with humans for food and fiber, or otherwise cause economic or other problems for humans. The range of pests is wide, including insects, nematodes, mites, plant pathogens, vertebrate pests, and weeds. Their distribution and economic effects depend on a wide range of factors that include changes in farming patterns and in agroclimatic and ecological conditions.

Pest management. Pest management should aim to manipulate the pests and their environment in such a way as to maintain populations below levels that cause economic crop losses, thereby protecting crops from pest damage and/or destruction.

Plan-do-check-act PDCA. “Management by fact” or scientific method approach to continuous improvement (the Deming Wheel). PDCA creates a process-centered environment, because it involves studying the current process, collecting and analyzing data to identify causes of problems, planning for improvement, and deciding how to measure improvement (Plan). The plan is then implemented on a small scale if possible (Do). The next step is to determine what happened (Check). If the experiment was successful, the plan is fully implemented (Act). The cycle is then repeated using what was learned from the preceding cycle.

Potentiometric surface. An imaginary surface that represents the static head of groundwater and is defined by the level to which water will rise. Also known as isopotential level; piezometric surface; pressure surface.

Prime farmland. Land that has the best combination of physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, forage, fiber, and oilseed crops and that is available for these uses. It has the combination of soil properties, growing season, and moisture supply needed to produce sustained high yields of crops in an economic manner if it is treated and managed according to acceptable farming methods. In general, prime farmland has an adequate and dependable water supply from precipitation or irrigation, a favorable temperature and growing season, an acceptable level of acidity or alkalinity, an acceptable content of salt or sodium, and few or no rocks. Its soils are permeable to water and air. Prime farmland is not excessively eroded or saturated with water for long periods of time, and it either does not flood frequently during the growing season or is protected from flooding. Users of the lists of prime farmland map units should recognize that soil properties are only one of several criteria that are necessary.

Prime habitat. The most ideal habitats for protecting wildlife biodiversity due to their size, location, diversity of habitat types, or presence of a particular type of habitat for plant or animal species.

Project team. The team involved in the planning, design, and development of a project, including, but not limited to, engineers, designers, biologists, and contractors.

Public space. A social space that is open and accessible to all, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, or socio-economic level, such as a commons, town square, or public park.

Rainwater harvesting. Accumulating and storing rainwater for reuse before it reaches the aquifer. This stormwater can be used for irrigation, flushing toilets, and other uses depending on the level of treatment. Rain collected directly from rooftops is referred to as rainwater harvesting; water collected from the ground is called stormwater harvesting.

RCRA. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Enacted in 1976, the principle Federal law in the United States governing the disposal of solid and hazardous waste.

Reflectance. The fraction of the incident radiation which is reflected by the surface.

Renewable energy. Energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat which are naturally replenished.

Resiliency. The ability to successfully adapt to and/or recover readily from a major disruption.

Resource trap. Projects that increase community dependence on resources that could become very scarce and expensive, for example, adding a highway to a community which already suffers from urban sprawl and in which the automobile is the dominant form of travel puts the community at great economic risk if fuel prices were to increase substantially.

Social capital. Structures, institutions, networks and relationships that enables individuals to maintain and develop human capital. Includes families, communities, businesses, educational and voluntary organizations, legal/political systems. Social capital is one of the capitals defined by the Five Capital model of sustainable development.

Sources. Any external source of information that directly informed the concept, requirements, and/or background text of the credit.

SPCC. Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure. EPA rule that includes requirements for oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response to prevent oil discharges to navigable waters and adjoining shorelines. The rule requires the preparation, amendment, and implementation of SPCC plans.

SRI (Solar Reflectance Index). A measure of a material’s ability to reject solar heat, as shown by a small temperature rise, which incorporates both solar reflectance and emittance in a single value. SRI is defined such that standard black (reflectance 0.05, emittance 0.90) is 0 and standard white (reflectance 0.80, emittance 0.90) is 100.

Stakeholder. A person, group, or organization that has direct or indirect stake in an organization because it can affect or be affected by the organization’s actions, objectives, and policies. Key stakeholders in a business organization include creditors, customers, directors, employees, government (and its agencies), owners (shareholders), suppliers, unions, and the community from which the business draws its resources. Although stakeholding is usually self-legitimizing (those who judge themselves to be stakeholders are stakeholders), all stakeholders are not equal and different stakeholders are entitled to different considerations. For example, a company’s customers are entitled to fair trading practices but they are not entitled to the same consideration as the company’s employees. (Source: Business, )

Standards trap. Projects delivered according to design standards and methodologies that are not in alignment with changing environmental or operating conditions or other concerns. For example, designing stormwater management systems that do not take into account increases in storm frequency and intensity can place the community at high risk for additional flood damage.

Steep slopes. Generally, a steep slope is defined as land with a slope angle of 2-% or greater.

Stormwater. Water that originates during precipitation events. Stormwater that does not soak into the ground becomes surface runoff.

Surface water. Water collecting on the ground or in a stream, river, lake, wetland or ocean, naturally replenished by precipitation and naturally lost through evaporation and sub-surface seepage into the ground.

Sustainability. A set of environmental, economic and social conditions in which all of society has the capacity and opportunity to maintain and improve its quality of life indefinitely without degrading the quantity, quality or the availability of natural resources and ecosystems

Sustainability Management System. A system for managing an organization’s environmental, social and economic issues, priorities and programs in a comprehensive and systematic manner. It serves as a tool for managing and improving sustainable performance. It is also the means by which an organization can address the impacts of its products, processes and services on the environment and on society. Like an environmental management system, the system follows a continuous Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. It first establishes a sustainability policy, followed by the setting of goals and objectives for adhering to that policy along with targets for improvement. Performance is reviewed in an established frequency and corrective actions are taken as needed.

SWPPP. Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan. A plan required by the EPA for major construction projects for stormwater discharge that includes erosion prevention measures and sediment controls that will decrease soil erosion and decrease off-site nonpoint pollution.

Toxicity. The degree to which a substance can damage a living or non-living organisms.

Triple bottom line. A phrase coined by John Elkington in his 1998 book, Cannibals with Forks: the Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business. The concept is that business, traditionally concerned with the financial (economic) bottom line, should also be concerned with other performance metrics: environmental and social. The concept is often referred to as the three pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental and social.

Unique farmland. Land other than prime farmland that is used for production of specific high-value food and fiber crops, as determined by the Secretary. It has the special combination of soil quality, location, growing season, and moisture supply needed to economically produce sustained high quality or high yields of specific crops when treated and managed according to acceptable farming methods. Examples of such crops include citrus, tree nuts, olives, cranberries, fruits, and vegetables.

Upcycling. The process of converting waster materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.

Vegetation and Soil Protection Zone (VSPZ). The ground area that must be protected and incorporated into the overall landscaping of a site being subdivided or developed.

Waste streams (significant waste streams). The flow of varied types of waste from the point of generation to final disposal (ie, landfill). Can be used to describe waste materials that are either of a particular type (eg paper waste stream) or produced from a particular source (eg construction waste stream).

Wayfinding. Means of orienting oneself in the physical environment and navigating from place to place using signs, maps, and other graphic or audible methods. Coined by Kevin Lynch in his 1960 book Image of the City,” where he defined wayfinding as “a constant use and organization of the definite sensory cues from the external environment.”

Wellhead protection area. “The surface or subsurface area surrounding a water well or wellfield supplying a public water system, through which contaminants are reasonably likely to move toward and reach such well or wellfield” (US EPA. 1987). A wellhead protection area is groundwater recharge area for a well. Ideally, it should encompass the entire recharge area for a well. However, in practical terms the entire recharge area is too large to be managed effectively. Therefore, a smaller area around a well may be chosen. The WHPA is then delineated so that the highest priority contaminant sources nearest to the well can be addressed.

Wetland. An area of land whose soil is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are typically categorized by characteristic vegetation and provide a unique ecosystem for flora and fauna which may not be found in other ecosystems. 



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