Terminology


Airtight Construction
Airtight construction has no unintended gaps in the building envelope that allow air to leak in or out of the building or cold drafts to come in through the building envelope.

Blower Door Test 
These tests determine the rate that air infiltrates a building. A powerful fan is mounted into the frame of an exterior door and the fan pulls air out of the house, lowering the air pressure inside. The higher outside air pressure then flows in through all unsealed cracks and openings.

CFM
Cubic feet per minute measures airflow.

Deep Energy Retrofits
A deep energy retrofit is a whole-building analysis and construction process that uses integrated design to achieve much larger energy savings than conventional energy retrofits.

Dense Pack Cellulose
Cellulose insulation is made from recycled newspaper and reconstituted wood pulp. The material is treated with Borate, a naturally occurring mineral compound which greatly increases fire, moisture, mold, and vermin resistance. It stops air infiltration and offers excellent sound insulation. When cellulose is pneumatically installed at high velocity to densities greater than 3.5 pounds per square foot, it acquires a unique air sealing property. In this process, the material behaves as a liquid, flowing into obscure bypasses and solidifying them.

Energy Star
An international standard for energy-efficient consumer products that generally use 20–30% less energy than required by federal standards.

ERV
Energy recovery ventilation exchanges the energy contained in normally exhausted air of a building or conditioned space, using it to treat the incoming outdoor ventilation.

GWP
Global warming potential was developed to allow comparisons of the global warming impacts of different gases. Specifically, it is a measure of how much energy the emissions of 1 ton of a gas will absorb over a given period of time, relative to the emissions of 1 ton of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Heat Pump Hot Water Heater 
Using electricity to run a compressor, a heat-pump water heater (HPWH) extracts heat from air, often in the basement, and transfers that energy to heat water in a tank. It’s like a refrigerator, only running backwards; a refrigerator moves heat from its interior to the room it’s located in. An HPWH transfers heat from the room to a storage tank, and does it with remarkable efficiency. In fact, an HPWH is able to transfer more energy (up to 2.5 times) than the electricity it consumes.

High-Performance Tilt Turn Windows
The premise of the design is to provide a window that offers draft-free ventilation, easy cleaning, and egress. Draft-free ventilation is achieved when a user tilts the window allowing hot stagnant air at the ceiling to escape and cooler fresh air to enter the room around the sash.

HRV
Heat recovery ventilation transfers heat or coolness from stale exhaust air to fresh intake air. This balanced ventilation solution removes excess moisture, odors, and contaminants while conserving energy and enhancing comfort..

IAQ
Indoor air quality measures how healthy indoor air is and what pollutants are present. It is based on the amount and composition of gasses that are being released into the air from many sources – furniture, carpeting, combustion appliances, tobacco, moisture. and building materials among others. The amount of particulate matter present is also a very important contributor to air quality.

Life Cycle Assessment
A technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair, and maintenance.

Mineral Wool/Rock Wool
An insulation product made from actual stone that is very heat resistant; it is a good insulator and sound retardant.

Mini Splits 
These are very efficient ductless heating and cooling systems.

Net Zero
A building with zero net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.

Passivhaus (passive house)
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.

Photovoltaics (PV) 
A typical photovoltaic system employs solar panels, each comprising a number of solar cells, which generate electrical power, through the conversion of light into electricity using semiconducting materials.

“R” Value
The capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)
The solar heat gain coefficient measures how much solar radiation passes through a window, both directly transmitted and absorbed and subsequently released inward. SHGC is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The lower a window’s solar heat gain coefficient, the less solar heat it transmits.

Solar Thermal
A technology that uses the sun’s energy, rather than fossil fuels, to generate low-cost, environmentally friendly thermal energy. This energy is used to heat water or other fluids, and can also power solar cooling systems.

Superinsulation
An approach to building design, construction, and retrofitting that dramatically reduces heat loss (and gain) by using much higher levels of insulation and air tightness than normal.

U-Value
U-values measure how effective a material is as an insulator. The lower the U-value, the better the material as a heat insulator.

VOC
Volatile organic compounds are gases emanating from a variety of chemicals, some of which may have negative  health effects in both the short and long term. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. Household products, paints, varnishes, many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing and hobby products and fuels can release organic compounds while in use, and, to some degree, when they are stored.

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