12 Green Building Terms You Should Know

Don’t be overwhelmed by green building. For people interested in eco-friendly homes or just sustainable living in general, we have a few terms to know.

12 Green Building Terms to Start With

Many people have an inclination for green building when deciding to build a dream home, but the process can be intimidating. Lots of information can go over your head when the terminology unique to green building starts flying. At Alternative Energy Construction, we want you to be comfortable with your choices. We believe sustainable building is something that everyone can be educated about, and we’ll come right alongside you to help you understand by defining a few of the important terms to know.

Start with These Green Building Terms

Energy Star

A U.S. government-backed program that helps businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency in buildings and appliances.


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a green building rating system, is the national standard for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance, environmentally sustainable projects. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. LEED Certification is given by the USGBC and lets you know that a construction company has innovative designs that are environmentally friendly; Alternative Energy Construction is proud to be LEED certified and able to help you incorporate sustainable building into the construction of your home.

Active Solar Heating

This is a term for systems that collect and absorb solar radiation, then transfer the solar heat directly to the interior space or to a storage system which distributes the heat. There are liquid-based systems and air-based systems, both of which can supplement forced air systems. If one cannot provide adequate space heating, an auxiliary or backup system provides the additional heat.

Active Solar Power

This is a solar electric (photovoltaic or "PV") system, not passive solar design, that converts the sun's energy into electricity for the home. It is usually done with PV panels installed on the roof.

Passive Solar

These are strategies for using the sun’s energy to heat or cool a space, or to use mass or liquids that need no pumps or controls to function. A window positioned for solar gain in combination with massing for thermal storage (like a Trombe wall) is an example of a passive solar technique.

Building Envelope

This is the elements that create a separation between the interior and exterior environment of a building. These elements enclose the internal space and usually consist of the roof, doors, windows, foundation, and walls.


Insulated Concrete Forms create a barrier that does not allow moisture to permeate the structure of your home. This eliminates the threat of mold and mildew seeping into the framing and drywall of your home. Alternative Energy Construction has the experience and expertise that it takes for proper design and implementation of ICF block construction on your home.


Designing a building to take advantage of natural sunlight illumination.

Photovoltaics (PV)

This is the field of technology and research related to the application of solar cells for energy by converting solar energy (sunlight, including ultraviolet radiation) directly into electricity. Installations may be ground-mounted or built into the roof or walls of a building, known as Building Integrated Photovoltaics or BIPV for short.


This is a term for the uncontrolled inward air leakage through cracks and openings in any building element and around windows and doors of a building. Infiltration is caused by the pressure effects of wind and/or the effect of differences in the indoor and outdoor air density.


The US Green Building Council sets the standard for LEED certification and green building.


This is the process of taking steps to reduce the leaks of heat from or into a building. It may involve caulking, weatherstripping, adding insulation, and other similar improvements to the building shell, sealing the premises for better control of the air coming in and going out.

If you are interested in green building when it comes to your dream home, contact us at Alternative Energy Construction. We are experienced and ready to help you build your eco-friendly home.

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