Anthropogenic is anything originating in human activity.


Biodesign is a term coined by William Myers to describe where design, from architecture and industrial design to fashion and medicine, is made possible by technological advancements in the life sciences from bioengineering to sustainable architecture.1

Biogenic Carbon (CO2)

Biogenic Carbon (CO2) emissions are CO2 emissions related to the natural carbon cycle, as well as those resulting from the combustion, harvest, digestion, fermentation, decomposition, or processing of biologically based materials.2


Biomass is organic plant and waste material that contains stored energy from the sun through photosynthesis. When biomass is burned the energy is released as heat. Biomass can be burned directly or converted to liquid biofuels or biogas that can be burned as fuels.3


Biomimicry is design informed by nature, a technology transfer from nature that looks at patterns and phenomena of the natural world. The process involves studying nature, extracting a principle, then translating this to a design principle that can be explained in non-biological terms.4


Biomorphism reflects the tendency to favour ambiguous and organic shapes. Anatomy, plants, bodies of water, and astronomy inspired paintings, reliefs, and sculptures. Sometimes artists and architects create works that are simplification of nature’s forms and reduce them to their abstract essence.5

Biophilia and Biophilic design

Biophilia and Biophilic design is the practice of connecting people and nature within our built environments and communities.6

Biosphere and Atmosphere

Biosphere and atmosphere are two of the earth’s four major subsystems or spheres: lithosphere or geosphere (land), hydrosphere (water), biosphere (living things—plants and animals), or atmosphere (air).7

Burden shifting

Burden shifting happens when improvement in one life phase merely creates more burden in another phase.8

Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Zero Carbon Building Standard —Performance

Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Zero Carbon Building Standard —Performance The program is about demonstrating a zero-carbon balance in building operations year after year. Buildings that achieve a zero-carbon balance and meet the other requirements for existing buildings earn Zero Carbon Building—Performance certification. This certification is awarded based on a twelve-month period of operations, and performance must be verified annually. Project teams are required to evaluate energy use holistically, including impacts on peak electricity, and determine the GHG emissions associated with structural and envelope materials. Recognizing the inherent challenges to retrofitting existing buildings, this certification does not require a minimum of onsite renewable energy or a minimum level of thermal energy demand performance.10

Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Zero Carbon Building Standard—Design

Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Zero Carbon Building Standard—Design New construction and major retrofits earn Zero Carbon Building—Design certification by modeling a zero carbon balance, highly efficient envelope and ventilation systems to meet a defined threshold for thermal energy demand intensity, and onsite renewable energy systems capable of providing a minimum of 5% of building energy consumption. Project teams are required to evaluate energy use holistically, including impacts on peak electricity, and determine the GHG emissions associated with structural and envelope materials.9

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a gas. People and animals exhale it and plants sequester it. It exists in smaller concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere and is part of the natural carbon cycle. This natural cycle is important for sustaining a habitable temperature for the planet. Without it, the planet would simply be too cold.11 Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is also known as a greenhouse gas (GHG). Carbon Dioxide emissions make up the largest share of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Carbon Dioxide emissions come from burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas for energy use as well as from burning biomass such as wood and waste materials as well as some industrial processes such as cement production. These emissions upset the earth’s natural balance. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon that been locked up in the ground for millions of years, while burning biomass emits carbon that is part of the biogenic carbon cycle. Fossil fuels increase the total amount of carbon in the biosphere while biogenic carbon operates within the system returning the carbon that was absorbed as the plants grew.12

Cradle to Cradle Banned List

Cradle to Cradle Banned List The Banned Lists was developed by Products Innovation Institute, a non-profit organization, and contain those chemicals and substances that are banned for use in Cradle to Cradle Certified™ products as intentional inputs above 1000 ppm. These substances were selected for inclusion on the Banned Lists due to their tendency to accumulate in the biosphere and lead to irreversible negative human health effects. In addition, several substances were selected due to hazardous characteristics associated with their manufacture, use, and disposal.13

Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT)

Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) is an engineered product consisting of layers of dimension lumber (usually three, five or seven) oriented at right angles to one another and then glued to form structural panels with exceptional strength, dimensional stability, and rigidity. 14

Dowel-Laminated Timber (DLT)

Dowel-Laminated Timber (DLT) is a mass timber panel product created by stacking dimension lumber together on its edge, much like NLT. DLT is friction-fit together with hardwood dowels, lending some dimensional stability to the panel.15

Ecosystem services

Ecosystem services are defined as comprising 4 categories:

  • Provisioning services—material goods that nature provides e.g. food, fuel, fibre, genetic resources, biochemical, fresh water, natural medicines and pharmaceuticals
  • Regulating services—healthy ecosystems regulate the climate and the composition of the atmosphere through carbon sequestration. They provide natural water purification and waste treatment services, pollinate crops, control soil erosion, and mitigate against diseases, pests and natural hazards.
  • Cultural services—healthy ecosystems contribute to human well-being by supporting spiritual, aesthetic, heritage, educational and recreational needs.
  • Supporting services—underlying all other goods and services are supporting functions such as photosynthesis, soil formation, primary production, and nutrient cycling.16

Embodied carbon (eCO2)

Embodied carbon (eCO2) is the sum impact of all the greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the materials, products and/or buildings throughout their life cycle (extracting from the ground, manufacturing, construction, maintenance and end of life/disposal)17. Embodied emissions are the first emissions a building generates. These are locked in place as soon as a building is built.18

Energy Use Intensity (EUI)

Energy Use Intensity (EUI) is a building’s annual energy use per unit area. It is typically measured in thousands of BTU per square foot per kBTU/ft2/yr) or kWh/m2/yr.19


Geoexchange technology uses the fairly constant temperature found beneath the surface of the earth to heat and cool buildings and to help provide hot water. It is sometimes called shallow geothermal, earth energy, low-temperature geothermal, and geothermal heating and cooling.21


Geothermal refers to the earth’s internal heat. Geothermal energy is power generated from natural steam, hot water, hot rocks, or lava in the earth’s crust.20

Glued-Laminated Timber (GLT)

Glued-Laminated Timber (GLT) Also known as Glulam, GLT is an engineered product made of two or more layers of lumber glued together with the grain of all layers running parallel to the length22. Glulam has many advantages over sawn lumber such as greater size and strength.23

Green infrastructure

Green infrastructure mimics natural water processes working with plants, soils, trees, and built structures to capture and clean rainwater before returning it to waterways and the atmosphere.25

Green power

Green power is a subset of renewable energy. It is electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources. Green power can be purchased for its zero emissions profile and carbon footprint reduction benefits.26

Greenhouse gases (GHGs)

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gases in the earth’s atmosphere that form a layer around the earth, trapping heat and creating what is some call the greenhouse effect. Largely made of carbon dioxide (CO2) it also includes other heat trapping gases such as water vapour, methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), ozone (O3) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Each one has long-term impacts on global temperatures, depending on how much of it is in the atmosphere, how long it remains there, and how much heat it absorbs or radiates back out during its lifetime.24

Laminated Strand Lumber (LSL)

Laminated Strand Lumber (LSL) is an engineered product manufactured from strands or flakes of wood fibre, from fast growing, low value logs that are glued together with adhesives using a steam-injection process to create billets, or panels27. Flakes are oriented in different directions and lengths, with the longer strands running parallel to the finish product length.28

Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL)

Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) is an engineered wood product manufactured by bonding together long layers of thin wood, oriented in the same direction, with adhesive, heat and pressure.29

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is sometimes referred to as cradle-to-grave or cradle-to-cradle analysis and is an important tool for making sustainable material decisions. It considers what is involved to make a product and transport it to an installation site, the upstream burden; what inputs and waste will occur related to using the product over its life, and what will happen to the product when it is no longer needed, the downstream burden.30

Living Building Challenge Red List

Living Building Challenge Red List ( The Red List was developed by the International Living Future Institute, a non-profit organization, and contains twenty-two classes of chemicals. Each chemical class contains a multitude of individual chemicals, identified by their Chemical Abstract Services Registry Number, or CAS RN. Taken together, these classes comprise nearly eight hundred individual ingredients.31

Low-impact development (LID)

Low-impact development (LID) is land use planning and design to manage stormwater runoff as part of green infrastructure. It emphasizes conservation and use of on-site natural features to protect water.32

Nail-Laminated Timber (NLT)

Nail-Laminated Timber (NLT) is created by stacking dimension lumber together on its edge and fastening it together with nails or screws.33 It can be site built or fabricated in panels off-site.34

Net Zero Energy (NZE) or Zero Net Energy (ZNE)

Net Zero Energy (NZE) or Zero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings produce enough renewable energy to meet their own annual energy consumption requirements, thereby reducing the use of nonrenewable energy in the building sector. These building consequently contribute less overall greenhouse gas to the atmosphere than similar non net zero energy buildings.35

Net Zero Water

Net Zero Water buildings are designed to minimize total water consumption, maximize alternative water sources, minimize water discharge from the building and return water to the original water source. Net zero water creates a water-neutral building where the amount of alternative water used, and water returned to the original water source is equal to the building’s total water consumption.36

Non-renewable resources

Non-renewable resources means their quantities are limited or they cannot be replaced as fast as they are consumed.37

Operational Emissions (oCO2)

Operational Emissions (oCO2) are the impact of energy required to run a building by operating processes such as heating and cooling, lighting and appliances.

Parallel Strand Lumber (PSL)

Parallel Strand Lumber (PSL) is an engineered product in which long strands of wood fibre are glued together under pressure.38

Passive House (Passivhaus)

Passive House (Passivhaus) is a rigorous, voluntary standard for energy efficiency in a building, which reduces the building’s ecological footprint. Passive House buildings consume up to 90 percent less heating and cooling energy than conventional buildings. The Passive House high-performance building standard is applicable to almost any building type or design. It is not particular to reduced fuel source nor emissions specifically. It is an internationally recognized, proven, science-based energy standard in construction. Certification ensures that designers and consultants are expertly qualified to design buildings to meet the standard.39

Perkins and Will Precautionary List

Perkins and Will Precautionary List was developed in 2009 by working with chemists and other experts to aid industry stakeholders —manufacturers, project owners, designers and architects—in taking appropriate action to reduce the worldwide chemical burden. It will evolve as technology transforms product types and manufacturing practices, and the market evolves toward cleaner and healthier options. It is intended to be only one of a number of sources from which industry stakeholders can draw information.

Renewable energy

Renewable energy includes resources that rely on fuel sources that restores themselves over short-term periods of time and do not diminish, such as sun, wind, moving water, organic plant and waste material (biomass), and the earth’s heat (geothermal).40

Zero Carbon Building

Zero Carbon Building: A zero carbon building is defined as one that is highly energy-efficient and produces on site, or procures, carbon-free renewable energy in an amount sufficient to offset the annual carbon emissions associated with operations.41 Canada Green Building Council’s Zero Carbon Building Standard is Canada’s first green building program to make carbon emissions the key indicator for building performance. It provides a path for both new and existing buildings to reach zero carbon.42


  9. “The CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Initiative: The new measure of green building innovation in Canada.” Canadian Green Building Council.
  22. and
  30. “About Life Cycle Assessment.” Athena Sustainable Materials Institute. (
  32. Reference Guide for Building Design and Construction, v4, page 195
  36. “Net Zero Water Building Strategies.” OFFICE of ENERGY EFFICIENCY & RENEWABLE ENERGY. (
  39. “About Passive House.” Passive House Canada. (