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Links to More Information About Renewable/Sustainable Energy

Do you know the significance of carbon footprints and biomass? See definitions for these and other common vocabulary used in the renewable and sustainable energy arena.

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Terms

  • Biomass — Biological material such as wood, gas and alcohol fuels used to generate power, most commonly by burning. A renewable energy source, biomass also includes biodegradable waste that can be used as fuel.
  • Carbon footprint — A measure of the impact of the activities of individual or groups on the environment by the amount of greenhouse gases produced in daily living through generating power for electricity, heat, transportation and other energy drains. A carbon footprint is measured in tons or kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent.
  • Carbon offsetting — Reducing carbon footprints by using alternative sources of energy, such as solar or wind, and replenishing natural sources where possible, such as reforestation.
  • Renewable energy — Refers to energy sources such as fossil fuels that will not be used up at some determinable point but instead come from naturally replenishable sources such as sun, wind, hydroelectric power, biofuels and geothermal heat. In 2008, almost 20 percent of the world’s energy consumption came from renewable energy sources, with about 13 percent coming from traditional biomass sources. Brazil has one of the largest renewable energy programs, producing ethanol fuel from sugar cane that provides almost 20 percent of the country’s automotive fuel. Wind power is growing as an energy source across the globe at about 30 percent annually.
  • Solar cell — A device that converts solar energy directly to electricity; groups of cells are used to create solar panels.
  • Smart meter — A meter that records power consumption in intervals of an hour or less and communicates that information via a communications network back to a power utility for purposes of monitoring and billing. Smart meters allow for two-way communication between the meter and the central system.
  • Sustainable energy — Refers to creating energy sources for today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
  • Wind turbine — A device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy.

 Links to Additional Information

Note: Links to the following Internet sites are provided for your convenience and information and do not constitute our official endorsement.

  • The American Society of Safety Engineers, founded in 1911, is the oldest and largest professional safety organization. Its more than 32,000 members manage, supervise and consult on safety, health and environmental issues in industry, insurance, government and education.
  • The Daily Green, “the consumer’s guide to the green revolution,” has news, tips and advice, new green cuisine and a weird weather watch in a chatty and informative e-newsletter format that provides a template for green living.
  • Energy Star, first created as a U.S. government program in 1992, sets international standards for energy-efficient consumer products. Devices carrying the Energy Star logo, such as computers, kitchen appliances and buildings, can save up to 30 percent energy use.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates environmental issues in the U.S. that include agriculture, air quality, chemicals, construction, drinking water, food quality, health care, manufacturing, toxic substances and more.
  • Health House offers information on building and maintaining a healthier, more energy-efficient home.
  • The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system for homes, administered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes. The LEED program is a voluntary initiative promoting the transformation of the mainstream homebuilding industry towards more sustainable practices.
  • The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) was founded in 1995 by the National Association of State Energy Officials and Energy Rated Homes of America to develop a national market for home energy rating systems and energy-efficient mortgages.
  • The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is a not-for-profit educational and service organization promoting engineering opportunities for women through training and development programs, networking opportunities, scholarships, and outreach and advocacy activities.
  • The Sustainable Energy Coalition includes more than 60 national and local business, environmental, consumer and energy policy organizations. It promotes increased federal support for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and reduced federal support for unsafe or polluting energy sources.
  • The Texas Home Energy Raters Organization (TXHERO) is a statewide not-for-profit professional organization that promotes the benefits of energy conservation initiatives and monetary incentives to homeowners, homebuilders and businesses.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy promotes scientific and technological innovation with strategic themes of energy and nuclear security, scientific discovery and innovation and environmental responsibility.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy Building America Program is a private-public partnership that develops energy solutions for new and existing homes, combining the knowledge and resources of industry leaders with the U.S. Department of Energy’s technical capabilities.
  • The U.S. Green Building Council is a nonprofit community of leaders and offers green building certification, courses, workshops and an e-newsletter. Its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system for homes promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes.