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Glossary

Glossary

ADENE: Energy Agency in Portugal

Anemometer: Instrument that measures wind speed and pressure.

APA: Portuguese Environment Agency

Bio-sourced material: It is a material derived from living organisms, of animal or plant origin. The use of bio-sourced materials contributes to carbon storage and the preservation of natural resources.

Bioclimatic architecture: In the design of a so-called bioclimatic architecture, the conditions of the site and the environment (climate and microclimate, geography and geomorphology) play a major role in the study and implementation of the architecture project planned there. A thorough study of the site and its environment makes it possible to adapt the architecture to the characteristics and particularities specific to the location, and to take advantage of this benefits and protect themselves from disadvantages and constraints.

Calories: Calorie is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one gram of water below normal atmospheric pressure by 1ºC.

Carbon footprint: Product’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon sinks: A carbon sink is a reservoir (natural or artificial) that absorbs carbon circulating in the biosphere. This carbon is trapped in living matter and then more or less permanently sequestered in dead organic matter or in a rock biogenic… The main carbon sinks are oceans, soils (humus) and flora (forest, peat bog, grasslands).

Certification: A certification attests that a building is of a higher quality than that required by regulation. It is based on specifications (referential) that specify the requirements to be followed. It is issued by an approved and independent certification body (e. g. NF Habitat certification).

Circular economy: According to the ADEME (Agence nationale de l’environnement et de la maîtrise de l’énergie), the circular economy is an economic system of exchange and production that aims to increase the efficiency of resource use and reduce our impact on the environment. The aim is to decouple resource consumption from gross domestic product (GDP) growth while ensuring that environmental impacts are reduced and wellbeing is increased.

Deciduous tree: Deciduous leaves are those that fall during the winter season and are renewed each year.

Degree-day: The concept of degree-day makes it possible to quantify the heat consumed over a given period and to compare buildings located in different climatic zones. The principle consists in adding together over a period of time, the temperature differences between the inside and the outside.

Eco-design: Eco-design consists of integrating environmental criteria from the design phase of a product (good or service) in order to reduce its impact throughout its life cycle (from raw material extraction to end of life).

Eco-materials: Material that meets the required technical criteria but also environmental criteria throughout its life cycle.

EDP – Environmental Declaration Product: Gathers all the elements concerning the environmental impacts of a product resulting from an LCA.

Embodied energy: It is the energy required to extract and manufacture the materials that make up the building. According to the ICEB (Institute for Sustainable Building Design), a 120 m2 house with a lifespan of 80 years contains embodied energy of up to 420,000 kWh, which is equivalent to its heating consumption for a period of 30 to 50 years. However, it is important to remain critical of this data, as there are several definitions of embodied energy depending on the sources. The ICEB takes into account renewable and non-renewable energy, while some sources do not consider renewable energy.

Energy audit: Energy balance of a building carried out according to specifications.

Final energy: It is the energy that is used by the consumer after processing.

Fuel poverty: “A person in a fuel poverty situation (…) is a person who has particular difficulty in disposing of the supply of energy necessary to meet these basic needs due to the inadequacy of its resources or of its habitat conditions”. [Besson Law of 31 May 1990]

Home automation: All automated management techniques applied to the home (comfort, safety, communication).

Humidity control: Ability to absorb large quantities of water vapor and release it when the ambient air is drier without losing its insulating properties.

Infiltrometer test (or Blower Door Test): Allows to measure the quantity of air entering a building and to locate air leaks, thus limiting energy loss and degradation of constructive elements through the air intake.

Kelvin: The kelvin is an absolute measure of temperature. For example, the temperature of 0 K is -273.15 ºC and corresponds to absolute zero.

Label: The label is based on a given set of specifications, which may come from a public or private body. It sets performance levels that are higher than the regulations. However, not all labels have the same value, some are issued by certifying bodies and others are not audited. The application for a label is a voluntary process.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): Assessment of the environmental impacts of a product (in our case, a building) throughout its life cycle: raw material extraction, manufacturing, transport, use, and end-of-life (recycling). Compared to a simple carbon footprint, LCA is a multi-criteria analysis because it does not only take into account CO2 emissions but also different categories of impacts: exhaustion of resources, ecological impacts, health impacts, climate change…

Noble gas: The following gases are noble (or rare) gases: helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon and radon (the latter is radioactive). They are colourless and odourless gases, chemically very unreactive. They can therefore be used in all applications where chemical reactions are undesirable.

PAH: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: these are natural components of coal and petroleum, or are produced by incomplete combustion of organic materials such as fuels, wood, tobacco. They are present in the air, water or food. PAHs are involved in the development of certain forms of cancer in humans.

Passive building: Building designed to limit its energy balance.

Persistent leaves: Trees with persistent leaves do not lose their leaves during the fall.

Pesticide: A pesticide is a substance used to control organisms considered harmful.

Phtalate: Phthalates are chemical compounds commonly used as plasticizers in plastics, including polychloride vinyl (PVC). They are found in plastic films, packaging, floor coverings, shower curtains, profiles, pipes and cables, materials construction, paints or varnishes.

Phyto-purification: It is a water treatment system using plants, substrates and microorganisms within an artificial wetland.

Primary energy: It is the energy found in nature, before any transformation (wind, solar, hydraulic, geothermal energy, energy from fossil fuels).

Radon: Radon is a radioactive gas produced by a natural nuclear reaction. It comes from the ground and is found at higher concentrations at both inside and outside buildings.

Regulations: The regulations stem from a draft law introduced by the administrative authorities and must be respected (example RT 2012 in France).

Solar factor G: Fraction of solar energy that enters the building through the glazing.

Solar masks: A solar mask refers to anything that will reduce the sun’s light and heat gain. These may be natural masks: trees, reliefs, etc. or architectural masks: buildings, bridges, etc.

Standard: A standard can be regulatory and in this case it must be respected. It can also be voluntary and can be implemented by professionals in a sector (e.g. general standards for construction).

Sunshade: It is an architectural element that reduces the discomfort associated with direct sunlight.

SVOC: Semi-volatile Organic Compounds: these chemicals are used in the composition of certain plastic materials, computers and textiles for furniture, cleaning and cosmetic products, insecticide treatments…. They are distributed at the same time in air, in gaseous and particulate phases, and in dust deposited on the ground, on furniture and objects.

Thermal bridges: Localized area of the building envelope that has a different (usually higher) heat flow than the surfaces (when there is a temperature difference between inside and outside).

Thermal inertia: The ability of a material to store heat for subsequent release.

Thermal transmission coefficient U: This coefficient, expressed inW/m2K, represents the heat losses from the inside to the outside.

Trombe wall: The trombe wall is a system for optimizing solar heating. It consists of a concrete wall, on which a glass pane is placed, exposed to the south to receive maximum solar radiation during the day. It captures solar radiation during the day and releases it at night.

VOC: Volatile Organic Compounds: they are used in the composition of many common products such as paints, inks and glues, stain removers, cosmetics, solvents… They are emitted during the combustion of fuels (exhaust gas), or by evaporation during their manufacturing, storage or use.