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Energy & Sustainability

Glossary of Terms

Adaptation​
Reducing the susceptibility of environmental systems or man-made systems to the effect of climate change.
 
In the case of real estate, this may include adapting assets to the effects of increased flooding or incidences of drought during the refurbishment process, or introducing asset or operational management plans to manage the risk associated with these events.​
 
Allowance​
The permitted amount of CO2 (or CO2 equivalent) emissions that the holder can emit in a specified period of time.
 
The Kyoto Protocol permits the holder to trade its allocation of CO2 or hold onto any unused allowances for the specified time.​
 
Annex B Countries​

Annex B to the Kyoto Protocol holds the list of developed countries which have committed to controlling their greenhouse gas emissions in the commitment period of 2008–2012.​

Baseline​
The agreed level of emissions forming the benchmark to which other emissions totals are compared.
 
For example, 1990 levels of emissions form the benchmark against which 2008-2012 emissions are compared.​
 
Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services​​The variety of life forms: different plants, animals and micro-organisms, their genes and the ecosystems of which they are a part.
Humans and other living organisms depend on biological diversity for survival and quality of life, as this diversity plays a crucial role in stabilising natural systems.
 
For example, healthy ecosystems underpin the maintenance and regulation of atmospheric quality, climate, fresh water, marine productivity, soil formation, cycling of nutrients and waste disposal.
 
Biomass​

​The inherent energy component of living things; material such as wood is used for fuel directly through combustion or biomass can also be used to generate energy through the extraction of combustible oils.

BREEAM​

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) comprises a set of assessment methods and tools designed to help construction professionals understand and mitigate the environmental impacts of the developments they design and build.

Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS)​

This process involves trapping carbon dioxide from industrial originators such as power stations, and transporting it to locations such as exhausted gas and oil fields, where it will be stored on a long-term basis.​

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)​
A naturally occurring gas, also a by-product of burning fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal, of burning biomass and of land use changes and other industrial processes.
 
It is the principal anthropogenic greenhouse gas that affects the Earth’s radiative balance.​
 
Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2E)​​The Kyoto Protocol uses carbon dioxide as the reference point for comparing all greenhouse gases, and therefore it is given a Global Warming Potential of 1.
 
Other greenhouse gases, such as methane, are compared to carbon dioxide to determine their impact on the climate, and hence 1 molecule of methane = 25CO2e (over a 100 year time-frame).
 
Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)​
An independent organisation aiming to create a lasting relationship between shareholders and corporations regarding the implications for shareholder value and commercial operations presented by climate change.
 
CDP provides a coordinating secretariat for 475 investors with a combined $55 trillion of assets under management. On their behalf it seeks information on the business risks and opportunities presented by climate change and GHG emissions data from the world's largest companies. ​
 
Carbon Market​Agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol placed caps on the units of greenhouse gases that countries could emit.
 
These units can be bought or sold through a trading mechanism commonly known as the carbon market.
 
It is referred to as the carbon market because all other Greenhouse Gases are measured in terms of carbon.
 
Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme
The Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme is a proposed mandatory emissions trading scheme that will apply to large non energy-intensive organisations in the public and private sectors.
 
Organisations concerned are those with electricity consumption greater than 6,000MWh/yr, roughly equivalent to an annual electricity bill of over £500,000.
 
The UK Government includes both direct energy use emissions and electricity under this scheme, but not transport-associated emissions. Reporting will begin in April 2011.​
 
Carbon Tax​A levy on carbon emissions based on the combustion of fossil fuels such as natural gas or petrol/diesel fuel.
 
For example, there will be a carbon tax implemented in France some time during 2010. This tax would be levied on car petrol or diesel fuel and natural gas consumption for heating.
 
The tax would increase every year and affect both companies and households.
 
Chloroflurocarbon (CFC)​This is a type of gas used for refrigeration, air conditioning, packaging, insulation, solvents or aerosol propellants.
 
Given the right conditions this type of gas can weaken the ozone layer. It is covered by the 1987 Montreal Protocol.
 
CFC-12 is also considered a (relatively minor) greenhouse gas, although it is not one of the basket of 6 gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol, partly as it is  already covered under existing international legislation.
 
Climate Change​The greenhouse effect maintains temperature on Earth. Radiant heat from the sun is captured by greenhouse gases (e.g. carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapour) in the atmosphere.
 
This heat warms the Earth’s surface to differing extents over time depending on the position of the earth in its orbit around the sun.
 
The global temperature affects the climate, which therefore also changes naturally over time. However, the current rate of climate change is far greater than normal due to the anthropogenically generated greenhouse gases being emitted into and remaining in the atmosphere.
 
Ciogeneration​This refers to energy generation which results in both electricity and heat production. Both originate from the same source.
 
It is deemed to be a more efficient process than generating the power and heat separately. As such the process is also commonly known as Combined Heat and Power (CHP).
 
Contaminated Land and Groundwater​On many development sites, previous activities have led to the deliberate or accidental release or disposal of substances onto the land that may pose a risk to humans, ecological systems, produce, livestock or buildings.
 
The severity of contamination depends on the potential for the substance to cause harm, and the availability of a 'pathway' to connect a contamination source with a sensitive 'receptor' that would be harmed by the contamination.
 
Emissions Factor​The average emission rate of a given pollutant for a given source, relative to units of activity.
 
Emission factors can be used to derive estimates of gas emissions (for instance, greenhouse gas emissions) based on the amount of fuel combusted or on industrial production levels.
 
They are often known as 'conversion factors' in the context of corporate reporting.
 
EMS

​Environmental Management System.

ESRD

​Environmental Standards for Retail Developments.

European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS)
A Europe-wide cap-and-trade scheme for energy generators and energy intensive sectors such as iron and steel processors, cement manufacturers, and pulp and paper processing industries,  which aims to reduce CO2 emissions and combat the threat of climate change.
 
EU ETS has been in place since 2005 and created the first liquid market for carbon.​
 
Floor Risk​Flood is damaging to property and transport infrastructure, and the susceptibility of a site to flooding is important to any developer or investor.
 
Flood risk is an issue for two reasons: firstly, a shortage of land means that there is increasing pressure to develop in flood-prone areas; and secondly, warmer, wetter winters and increased storm frequency as a result of climate change will increase the frequency and severity of flood events.
 
Fugitive Emissions​The discharge of greenhouse gases as a secondary product of fuel production, storage or transport.
 
For example, the methane emanating from oil and gas drilling and refining, the leakage of natural gas from pipelines, or SF6 emissions.
 
Global Reporting Initative (GRI)
The world’s foremost sustainability reporting framework used by more than 1,500 companies worldwide. GRI guidelines break down carbon emissions into:
 
1) emissions under control of the organisation (directly or indirectly) and
 
2) others.  It uses the GHG Protocol principles for accounting details.​
 
Global Warming

​This describes the increase in the Earth's surface temperature. 

Global Warming Potential (GWP)​Each greenhouse gas has a different capacity to cause global warming, depending on its radiative properties, its molecular weight and its lifetime in the atmosphere. Its so-called global warming potential (GWP) encapsulates these.
 
The GWP is defined as the warming influence of a gas over a set time period, relative to the GWP of carbon dioxide.
 
Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol)​​An international accounting tool for understanding, quantifying and managing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it provides the framework for organisations and initiatives such as the International Standards Organisation (ISO), EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) as well as hundreds of GHG inventories prepared by individual companies.
 
It consists of 'Corporate Standards' for companies to prepare a GHG emission inventory and a 'Project Protocol' for companies to quantify the benefit of climate change mitigation projects.
 
Greenhouse Gas (GHG)​​Greenhouse gases are so called as they contribute to the Earth's natural greenhouse effect by trapping heat.
 
The most important greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride. These are the gases that are covered by the Kyoto Protocol.
 
Some chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are also powerful greenhouse gases but they are being progressively phased out under the Montreal Protocol as they also damage the stratospheric ozone layer.
 
Hazardous Materials​​Materials that have the potential to harm either people or the natural environment. In the construction and maintenance such as paints (which may contain Volatile Organic Compounds that can cause respiratory conditions in humans) and solvents (which can injure humans if in direct contact with skin, and may be harmful to flora and fauna).
 
Asbestos is also potentially lethal for humans.
 
Human Health and Well-Being in the Built Environment​
Human Health and Well-Being in the Built Environment.
In developed countries such as the UK, people spend approximately 90% of their time in buildings, or within the built environment.
 
The internal environment of a building can therefore have a significant impact upon the health and wellbeing of its occupants. For example, adequate ventilation is necessary to ensure the health of occupants.
 
Similarly, poor lighting can lead to headaches and eyestrain, so providing high quality artificial and natural lighting may avoid these impacts.
IPCC​​Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme and its remit is to evaluate the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information on climate change.
 
It relies on voluntary contributions from scientists as it does not conduct any research or monitor climate related issues itself.
 
ISO 14001​​This is the Environmental Management Standard of the International Organisation for Standardisation which can be used to certify an environmental management system (EMS).
 
In the context of the property sector, ISO 14001 can be achieved for an environmental management system in place at a corporate/portfolio level, or for operational management of a specific asset or a development project.
 
ISO 14064: Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)​
Released in 2006, this international standard specifies principles and requirements at the organisation level (Part 1) and project level (Part 2) for quantification and reporting of GHG emissions and removals.
 
It includes requirements for the design, development, management, reporting and verification of an organisation's GHG inventory.  It was developed in line with the GHG Protocol.​
 
Land Use​​Land that becomes available for development is either 'greenfield' or 'brownfield'.
 
Greenfield sites have not been previously developed, although they may have been used for agriculture.
 
Brownfield sites have been previously developed, or used for another purpose such as landfill.
 
In many countries there is government and local community pressure to preserve the current land use of remaining greenfield sites and development on brownfield sites is viewed as a preferential option.
 
Landfill​

A waste disposal method involving excavating land to provide space for waste to be spread in thin layers covered with layers of soil at regular intervals, and carefully managed to remove the build-up of methane gas generated from decomposing material.​

LEED​

​Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System™ (LEED) is a U.S. developed certification system for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.

Material Specification​​Natural resources include minerals such as iron ore, aggregates and timber.
 
Some of the activities involved in procuring these materials are potentially extremely damaging to the environment, such as open cast mining, or rainforest deforestation.
 
In developing countries this could be particularly damaging as legislation protecting the environment may be weak or poorly enforced.
 
Timber and tropical rainforests are probably the natural resource with the highest profile amongst environmental campaigners.
 
Mitigation​

The steps taken to reduce or actively control the concentration levels and rate of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.​

Montreal Protocol​

This Protocol (international law) sought to phase out the use of ozone-depleting compounds like Chlorofluorocarbons, Methyl Bromide, Carbon Tetrachloride and Methyl Chloroform. It took effect on January 1989.​

Natural Gas​​Natural Gas consists of methane (CH4) and other hydrocarbon compounds like Propane (C3H8), Ethane and Butane (C4H10).
 
It is found in underground deposits and occurs most commonly when animals and plants decay.
 
Nitrogen Oxide​​It is one of the six Greenhouse Gases monitored and regulated under the Kyoto Protocol.
 
It originates when fossil fuels are incinerated and when fertilizer is manufactured.
 
Nuisance​
Environmental nuisances include noise, vibration and dust.
 
Exposure to high levels of noise can result in tinnitus. Low levels of noise can lead to stress or depression for example, amongst people who are subject to persistent unwanted noise in their homes.
 
Vibration is often generated by heavy vehicle movements, compaction and noise waves which can cause disturbances plus reduce quality of life for people in the vicinity.
 
Dust is common during construction or demolition. ​
 
Ozone (O3)​
This is a gas mainly found in the stratospheric layer of the atmosphere.
 
The remaining ozone is found in the tropospheric layer of the atmosphere.
 
The stratospheric layer of ozone absorbs the majority of ultraviolet sunlight. This absorption is a source of heat for the Earth and serves to protect animals and plants from the detrimental effects of excessive ultra-violet radiation.​
 
Pollution or Emissions to Air, Land or Water​
Emissions to air, land or water refer to the release of pollutants into the atmosphere, the ground or a watercourse that could occur while carrying out an activity.
 
A pollutant, or emission, released as a direct result of that activity, may be emitted in solid, liquid or gaseous form and is poisonous or toxic to the receptor(s) (see explanation under contaminated land).  
 
Receptors include humans, flora, fauna and the atmosphere. ​
 
Solar Radiation​

Rays emitted by the sun. The unit of measurement is watts per square metre.​

OHSAS 10081​
OHSAS 18001 is an international standard which establishes requirements relating to Health and Safety management systems.
 
Certification to this standard allows an organisation to understand and manage relevant hazards resulting from normal operations and abnormal situations, and improve its performance.​
 
Transport Impacts​​Transport is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide, and therefore a major contributor to climate change.
 
This is particularly true for air travel, and road travel. Improvements in modern cars have been more than offset by the growing numbers of cars on the road.
 
Other impacts include resource depletion, loss of greenfield land in building transport infrastructure, air pollution, noise, surface water runoff and traffic congestion.  
 
Visual Pollution & Loss of Amenity Value​
There has been significant work conducted within environmental and ecological economics on the reduction in 'value' of land due to proximity to unattractive industrialised areas, nuclear power stations and landfill sites.
 
The amenity value of land is its value to humans for leisure activities such as walking, fishing or swimming.​
 
Waste​​Waste is any substance or material that is either degraded or not needed and is therefore discarded.  
 
Waste can be solid or liquid, water effluent, air emissions and energy lost. When waste is discarded, the natural resources and energy embodied within the substance or material are also discarded.
 
Water Use​​Demand for water often exceeds supply. This is exacerbated by the effects of climate change, with drought becoming an increasingly common occurrence.
 
When drought occurs, over-abstraction from aquifers can lower river and lake levels, damaging or destroying wildlife habitats. Wetlands are particularly vulnerable.
 
Reduced river flows can reduce the flow of nutrients into the sea, which impacts upon fisheries that depend on them.