Biodiesel: The biofuel substitute for diesel. It derives from oilseed based crops – mainly oilseed rape (OSR) in the UK, and palm oil in South East Asia.
Bioethanol: The biofuel substitute for petrol (gasoline). It derives from cereal based crops – mainly wheat in the UK, and maize (corn), soya beans and sugarcane in the US and South America.
Biofiltration: A pollution control technique using living material to capture and biologically degrade process pollutants. Common uses include processing waste water, capturing harmful chemicals or silt from surface runoff, and microbiotic oxidation of contaminants in air.
Biofuels : Fuels derived from renewable raw materials, such as bark, black liquor or logging residuals.
Biogas: The biofuel substitute for natural gas. It derives from organic waste materials including animal waste and waste generated from municipal, commercial and industrial sources through the process of anaerobic digestion. Biogas is a ‘second generation fuel’, i.e. it is derived from non-food sources.
Biomass Energy: A renewable energy source, is biological material from living, or recently living organisms, such as wood, waste, (hydrogen) gas, and alcohol fuels. Biomass is commonly plant matter grown to generate electricity or produce heat. In this sense, living biomass can also be included, as plants can also generate electricity while still alive. The most conventional way biomass is used however, still relies on direct incineration.
Blended Value: Blended value represents a broader way of thinking about the nature of value creation by organizations, whether for-profit, nonprofit or hybrid, and through the application of capital. Emerson coined the “blended value” term to transcend the previously bifurcated definitions of value as either economic or social/environmental so that the focus could shift to maximizing companies, communities and capital.
Building Automation : Describes the functionality provided by the control system of a building. A building automation system (BAS) is an example of a distributed control system. The control system is a computerized, intelligent network of electronic devices, designed to monitor and control the mechanical and lighting systems in a building. BAS core functionality keeps the building climate within a specified range, provides lighting based on an occupancy schedule, and monitors system performance and device failures and provides email and/or text notifications to building engineering staff. The BAS functionality reduces building energy and maintenance costs when compared to a non-controlled building. Buildings with these systems are sometimes called “Smart Buildings.”
Building Deconstruction: The selective dismantlement of building components, specifically for re-use, recycling, and waste management. It differs from demolition where a site is cleared of its building by the most expedient means. Deconstruction has also been defined as “construction in reverse.”
Building Information Modeling (BIM): The process of generating and managing building data during its life cycle. Typically it uses three-dimensional, real-time, dynamic building modeling software to increase productivity in building design and construction. The process produces the Building Information Model (also abbreviated BIM), which encompasses building geometry, spatial relationships, geographic information, and quantities and properties of building components.
Cap and Trade: A cap being placed on the total amount of allowable emissions, the distribution of this total between polluters, and the creation of a marketplace where owners of the permits can trade with each other.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): The process of capturing carbon that is emitted from energy production and diverting it into ground storage areas, to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.
Carbon Credits: A generic term for any tradable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e). They represent a component of national and international attempts to mitigate the growth in concentrations of greenhouse gases.
Carbon Dioxide Equivalents (CO2e): The internationally recognised way of expressing the amount of global warming of a particular greenhouse gas in terms of the amount of CO2 required to achieve the same warming effect over 100 years.
Carbon Footprint: The total emissions of greenhouse gases (in carbon equivalents) from whichever source is being measured – be it at an individual, organisation or product level.
Carbon Labeling: Used to measure for the consumers the amount of embedded carbon there is in the product.
Carbon Neutral: Through carbon offsetting organisation to individual are counterbalancing the emissions they produce to make themselves carbon neutral.
Carbon Offsetting: The process of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing credits from others through emissions reductions projects, or carbon trading schemes. The term often refers to voluntary acts, arranged by a commercial carbon offset provider.
Carbon Sink: An absorber of carbon dioxide; oceans and forests are natural carbon sinks.
Ceres: A non-profit organization advocating for sustainability leadership. Ceres mobilizes a powerful network of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy with a mission to mobilize investor and business leadership to build a thriving, sustainable global economy.
CERFLOR: Sistema Brazileiro de Certificacão Florestal – a Brazilian forest certification system endorsed by PEFC.
CGI: The Clinton Global Initiative – The mission of the CGI is to turn ideas into action. Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM): UN regulated mechanism that allows countries with an emission-reduction or emission-limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to implement an emission-reduction project in developing countries.
Clean Diesel: Also known as ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD), is a term used to describe a standard for defining diesel fuel with substantially lowered sulfur contents. As of 2006, almost all of the petroleum-based diesel fuel available in Europe and North America is of a ULSD type.
Climate Adaptation Planning: The development of strategies that attempt to reduce a community’s vulnerability to climate change. Adaptation planning differs from climate-change mitigation planning in that it does not attempt to reduce or avoid climate change. Instead, it assumes that climate change is unavoidable and attempts to develop a plan for dealing with the expected local consequences. (See Resilience.)
Combined Heat and Power (CHP): Using the waste heat which is a by-product of energy production to heat space.
Community Choice Aggregation or CCA: A system adopted into law in the states of Massachusetts, Ohio, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, among others, which allows cities and counties to aggregate the buying power of individual customers within a defined jurisdiction in order to secure alternative energy supply contracts. Currently, nearly one million Americans receive service from CCAs.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): A form of corporate self-regulation that is integrated into the business model and takes into account not only shareholders but also stakeholders such as employees and customers. CSR efforts often include the entire value chain, including suppliers, buyers The term “corporate social responsibility” came into common use in the late 1960s and early 1970s after many multinational corporations formed the term to describe any group that is impacted by a company’s activities. Annual CSR reports are now published, using a framework such as GRI to increase awareness and transparency around CSR and sustainability progress.and the communities in which the company operates, when addressing issues of social and environmental impact.
Corporate Sustainability: In conjunction with a Cornerstone Capital’s mission, corporate sustainability is the relentless pursuit of material progress towards a more regenerative and shared economy
Cradle to Cradle: Using an end use product for the source of a new product.
Cradle to Grave: The life of a product, from creation to end use.
Criteria Air Pollutants: According to the EPA, are carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide.
CSIS: The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) develops practical solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. CSIS scholars provide strategic insights and bipartisan policy solutions to help decision makers chart a course toward a better world. CSIS is dedicated to finding ways to sustain American prominence and prosperity as a force for good in the world
Decentralised Energy (DE): Producing energy on a local scale away from the conventional large scale power plant production process.
Detention Basin: A stormwater management facility installed on, or adjacent to, tributaries of rivers, streams, lakes or bays that is designed to protect against flooding and, in some cases, downstream erosion by storing water for a limited period of a time. These basins are also called “dry ponds,” “holding ponds” or “dry detention basins” if no permanent pool of water exists. A detention basin differs from a retention basin, which includes a permanent pool of water in its design.
Double Bottom Line: A business term used in socially responsible enterprise and investment to refer to both the conventional bottom line, a measure of fiscal performance, and the second bottom line, a measure of positive social impact.
Eco-Footprint: Measures how much area of natural resources human population requires to produce the products it consumes and to absorb its wastes under prevailing
Embedded Carbon: The term used to describe the way in which the carbon footprint of a product, as measured by a full lifecycle assessment from ‘cradle to grave’, can be represented in terms of kg of CO2 per kg of product.
Embodied Energy: Defined as the commercial energy (fossil fuels, nuclear, etc.) that was used in the work to make any product, bring it to market, and dispose of it. Embodied energy is an accounting methodology which aims to find the sum total of the energy necessary for an entire product lifecycle. This lifecycle includes raw material extraction, transport, manufacture, assembly, installation, disassembly, deconstruction and/or decomposition.
Emissions Trading: Refers to the trading of permits which allow emissions of set amounts of greenhouse gases.
EMS: Environmental Management System
Environmental Social and Corporate Governance (ESG): ESG is a general catch all phrase that encompasses the major areas of concern for a business that strives to operate in a sustainable and ethical manner. In addition to financial factors, each of these areas is taken into consideration for anyone considering investment in a company. (See SRI below)
ESIA: Environmental and Social Impact Assessment – a thorough study of the impact of an investment project on the environmental and social foundation of local communities.
Ethical Consumerism: The purchasing of products that do not harm or exploit the workers that help produce a product and to minimise the impact on the environment.
Ethical Investment: Money that is directed towards activities which have a positive social and/or ecological impact.
FAIRTRADE Mark: A label that appears on UK products as a guarantee that they have been certified against internationally agreed Fairtrade standards.
Fossil Fuels: Solid, liquid or gaseous fuels formed in the ground over millions of years by chemical and physical changes in plant and animal residues under high temperature and pressure, e.g. oil, natural gas and coal.
FTSE4Good Index: The FTSE4Good Index series includes socially responsible companies. FTSE is jointly owned by the London Stock Exchange and The Financial Times.
GAIN: The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is an alliance driven by the vision of a world without malnutrition. Created in 2002 at a Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Children, GAIN supports public-private partnerships to increase access to the missing nutrients in diets necessary for people, communities and economies to be stronger and healthier.
Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN): A not-for-profit organization dedicated to increasing the scale and effectiveness of impact investing, which aims to solve social or environmental challenges while generating financial returns.
Global Impact Investing Ratings System (GIIRS): Provides independent, third party ratings and analytics for the impact investing industry. Both companies and funds can be rated by GIIRS to assess social and environmental impact. GIIRS ratings are analogous to Morningstar investment rankings or S&P credit risk ratings but don’t take into account financial performance.
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI): A framework for reporting on economic, environmental and social sustainability, GRI is one of the most widely used standards around the world. GRI promotes transparency and accountability and provides companies with guidance and support for sustainability reporting efforts. GRI is a nonprofit that is continually evolving the standards through broad input and collaboration from civil society, business, mediating institutions, academia, labor, public agencies and intergovernmental agencies.
Green Building: The practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.
Green Infrastructure: A concept originating in the United States in the mid-1990s that highlights the importance of the natural environment in decisions about land use planning. In particular there is an emphasis on the “life support” functions provided by a network of natural ecosystems, with an emphasis on interconnectivity to support long-term sustainability. Examples include clean water and healthy soils, as well as the more anthropocentric functions such as recreation and providing shade and shelter in and around towns and cities.
Green Roofs: Roofs that are partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. They may also include additional layers such as root barriers and drainage and irrigation systems.
Greenhouse Gas Inventories: A type of emission inventory that are developed for a variety of reasons. Scientists use inventories of natural and anthropogenic (human-caused) emissions as tools when developing atmospheric models. Policy makers use inventories to develop strategies and policies for emissions reductions and to track the progress of those policies. And, regulatory agencies and corporations rely on inventories to establish compliance records with allowable emission rates. Businesses, the public, and other interest groups use inventories to better understand the sources and trends in emissions.
Greenhouse Gases: A collective term for following gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
GRI: Global Reporting Initiative – a widely used set of guidelines for sustainability reporting.
ICLEI: Formerly the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, now calls itself ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. The group provides technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge, and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level.
Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS): An initiative of the Global Impact Investing Network, IRIS provides a common language of indicators and metrics to define operational, social and environmental performance. IRIS is a set of standardized metrics that can be used to describe an organization’s social, environmental, and financial performance. IRIS’ independent and credible performance measures help organizations assess and report on their social performance.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC): A scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). (Source: IPCC)
Invasive Species: Applies to non-indigenous species, or “non-native,” plants or animals that adversely affect the habitats and bioregions they invade economically, environmentally and/or ecologically. They disrupt by dominating a region, wilderness areas, particular habitats, and/or wildland-urban interface land from loss of natural controls (i.e.: predators or herbivores).
ISO: International Organization for Standardization
ISO 14001: A global standard created for corporate environmental management systems by the International Organization for Standardization. Other ISO certifications cover issues including quality management (ISO 9001).
Key Performance Indicators (KPI): Financial and non-financial indicators for the performance of a company.
Kyoto Protocol: An international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. (Source: UNFCCC)
LCA: Life Cycle Assessment – a method for assessing the environmental impact of a product “from the cradle to the grave”.
LEED: Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.
Life Cycle Assessment: A tool for the evaluating the environmental impact of a product or service system through all stages of its life cycle.
Methane Capture: The practice of collecting, storing and using as fuel methane and other biogases generated by the biological breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Biogas is produced by anaerobic digestion or fermentation of biodegradable materials such as biomass, manure, sewage, municipal waste, green waste, plant material and energy crops.
NIST: The National Institute of Standards and Technology, known between 1901 and 1988 as the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), is a measurement standards laboratory which is a non-regulatory agency of the United States Department of Commerce. The institute’s official mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve quality of life.
OHSAS 18001: A global standard created for occupational health and safety management by the International Organization for Standardization.
Power Purchase Agreements (PPA): Contracts between two parties, one who generates electricity for the purpose of sale and one who is looking to purchase electricity. PPAs are commonly used in public/private partnerships to help finance renewable energy projects. The private developer takes advantage of tax credits and other financial incentives to develop the infrastructure to generate power, while the public partner (typically a municipality) agrees to purchase the power from the developer at a given price for a certain number of years. The PPA helps the developer secure financing for the project by demonstrating to the lender that the generated power will be purchased at a predetermined rate.
Rainforest Alliance: An organisation that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behaviour.
Renewable Energy: Energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished).
SASB: The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board™ (SASB™) is a 501(c)3 non-profit that provides standards for use by publicly-listed corporations in the U.S. in disclosing material sustainability issues for the benefit of investors and the public. SASB standards are designed for disclosure in mandatory filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), such as the Form 10-K and 20-F. SASB standards will result in the improved performance of 13,000+ corporations, representing over $16 trillion in funds, on the highest-priority environmental, social and governance issues
SFI: Sustainable Forestry Initiative® program – a North American forest certification programme endorsed by PEFC.
Smart Grid: A smart grid delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using digital technology with two-way communications to control appliances at consumers’ homes to save energy, reduce cost and increase reliability and transparency. It overlays the electricity distribution grid with an information and net metering system. Such a modernized electricity network is being promoted by many governments as a way of addressing energy independence, global warming and emergency resilience issues. Smart meters may be part of a smart grid, but alone do not constitute a smart grid.
Smart Meter: A smart meter, according to regulatory authorities, is an advanced meter (usually an electrical meter) that records consumption in intervals of an hour or less and communicates that information at least daily via some communications network back to the utility for monitoring and billing purposes (telemetering). Smart meters enable two-way communication between the meter and the central system.
Social Return on Investment (SROI): The SROI concept, essentially a cost-benefit analysis, is used by charities, donors and nonprofit organizations to rate the results of their endeavors with firm evidence of impact and created value. The idea of social return on investment was pioneered in the 1990s by a U.S. venture fund called REDF and has since caught on.
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI): Also known as sustainable, socially conscious, “green” or ethical investing, this term defines any investment strategy seeking both financial return and social good. In its broadest usage, SRI refers to proactive practices such as impact investing, shareholder advocacy and community investing. Socially responsible investments encourage corporate practices that promote environmental stewardship, consumer protection, human rights and diversity. They can also represent the avoidance of investing in industries or products that can be socially harmful, including alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography, weapons and/or the military. The term dates back to the Quakers, who in 1758, prohibited members from participating in the slave trade.
Sustainability: Generally defined as the capacity for a culture to thrive today – economically, ecologically and socially – without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same.
Sustainable Finance: The systematic integration of environmental, social, and governance factors into the investment process
The Aspen Institute: The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also maintains offices in New York City and has an international network of partners.
The Brundtland Commission: Formally the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), known by the name of its Chair Gro Harlem Brundtland, was convened by the United Nations in 1983. The commission was created to address growing concern “about the accelerating deterioration of the human environment and natural resources and the consequences of that deterioration for economic and social development.” In establishing the commission, the UN General Assembly recognized that environmental problems were global in nature and determined that it was in the common interest of all nations to establish policies for sustainable development.
Triple Bottom Line (TBL): Refers to the three prongs of financial, social and environmental accountability. While businesses of the past only had to be accountable for their financial performance, today’s enterprises are increasingly pressed to demonstrate concern for three bottom lines: financial, people/communities, and the environment.
UN PRI: The United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Initiative is an international network of investors working together to put the six Principles for Responsible Investment into practice. Its goal is to understand the implications of sustainability for investors and support signatories to incorporate these issues into their investment decision making and ownership practices.
US SIF: The US Forum for Sustainable & Responsible Investing (SIF) is the US membership association for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in sustainable and responsible investing. US SIF and its members advance investment practices that consider environmental, social and corporate governance criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC): Any organic compound which participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions; a precursor to ground-level ozone formation
WEF: The World Economic Forum (Global Agenda Council on Financing and Capital) is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.