Carbon, Climate and Solar Glossary
Your guide to climate and carbon terms!
Carbon Footprint – The total amount of carbon dioxide, carbon compounds, and greenhouse gases emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels for any activity or product. Often expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent or CO2e.
Carbon Neutral – Achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by displacing carbon emissions with either carbon removal (by planting trees or some other carbon sequestering activity) or eliminating carbon emissions altogether.
CH4 – Methane, 16% of greenhouse gas output, has a warming impact of more than 20 times greater than CO2 over a hundred year period.
CO2 – Carbon dioxide, makes up three-fourths of all emissions we produce.
Distributed generation RECs: (see RECs for clarification) renewable energy certificates created from a source of electricity that is produced on-site and is connected to the electrical grid.
Ecosystem service (unit(s)) – Resource/provisioning services, regulating services (air/water purification, pollination), supporting services (nutrient cycling, basic cyclical processes), are all provided free by the natural ecosystem.
Energy Savings Measures (ESMs) – upgrades, retrofits, repairs, replacements that businesses and residences can implement to become energy efficient. Same as energy conservation measures.
Environmental Attributes – Ecological benefits and/or services which do not ‘cost’ humans, but rather provide a ‘free’ non-draining outcome. Benefits from alternative energy sources are represented by zero emissions or particulates, water conservation, and reduction of contaminants related to importing fuel. Synonymous with Eco Benefits or Attributes.
Green Tags – a market-based certificate that validates the owner/retirer of the certificate is the legal owner of electricity generated from a renewable energy source along with its environmental attributes. (also renewable certificate and tradable renewable certificates)
Greenhouse gases (GHG or ghg or Ghg) – gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range, causing the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.
N2O – Nitrous Oxide, 6% of global emissions, every kilo of N2O is about 300 times more impactful than CO2 when it comes to climate change.
Net Zero Carbon – When the amount of carbon dioxide emissions released on an annual basis drops to zero or becomes negative. Achieving a state of net zero involves reducing all emissions in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C and balancing any residual emissions with carbon removals.
Off grid – Completely disconnected from the electricity grid, with no access to utility-generated electricity. Homes that go off grid need to generate all of their electricity on-site. Buildings that are off-grid can maintain power in the event of electrical grid outages.
Offsets – Broadly, the removal (sequestering), avoidance (lower consumption), and/or reduction of carbon dioxide emissions or other greenhouse gases in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. Offsets are measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent. No recognized standard or verification from US government, although one credit represents an emission reduction of one metric tonne or an equivalent amount of other greenhouse gases GHG.
Post-Carbon Economy – the process of transformation, a shift in paradigm, which is necessary to respond to the multiple challenges of climate change, ecosystem degradation, social equity and economic pressures. A necessary model to build the resilience to withstand environmental crises, support social and cultural change, and blueprint societal decisions and appropriate action.
Renewable Energy – Energy from a source that is not depleted as it is used, such as the sun, wind or water, and is more sustainable to harvest/harness.
Renewable Energy Certificate (Credit) (REC) – a market-based certificate that validates the owner/retirer of the certificate is the legal owner one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity generated from a renewable energy source along with its environmental attributes (emission avoidance). These are traded and monetized in involuntary and voluntary markets, globally (thus are standardized. (also tradable renewable certificates and green tags)
Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) – tracking metric for state/national renewable energy goals and standards.Through these metrics, government officials determine how much renewable energy the state produces and what energy goals are being met.
Solar renewable energy credit (sREC) – a market-based certificate that validates the owner/retirer of the certificate is the legal owner of one megawatt-hour (MWh) of solar electricity along with its environmental attributes (emission avoidance). Markets depend on State supply and demand, but all sRECs are tradeable on the voluntary market. (also tradable renewable certificates)
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