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Glossary

Embodied Energy:Embodied energy, or "embedded energy," is an assessment that includes the energy required to extract raw materials from nature, plus the energy used in primary and secondary manufacturing activities to provide a finished product. There is embodied energy in any processed product, from a drinking cup to a car. In embodied energy terms, buildings represent a huge, relatively long-duration energy investment. [1]
 
Forest Stewardship Council Certification (FSC): FSC is a system of certification that tracks products through an accredited, independent, “third-party” certification system. They assess forest management using the FSC principles, criteria, and standards; each certifier uses their own evaluative process. This allows FSC to remain outside of the assessment process while supporting the integrity of the standard, and of the FSC system. Certifiers evaluate both forest management activities (forest certification) and tracking of forest products (chain-of-custody certification). There are 12 FSC-accredited certifiers around the globe.[2]
 
plant shootLife Cycle: Life cycle is a term used to describe the complete process that a product endures “from cradle to grave”. More specifically, this addresses the product’s life from the first extracted raw material, manufacturing preparations, use, and the final product disposal. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a very effective tool being used today that assesses the various impacts occurring throughout a materials entire life cycle (i.e. mining, manufacturing, shipping, production, use, end use). This can highlight many problem areas to improve efficiency and cut costs for a company.
 
Many materials and products today have the complete cost of their entire life cycle overlooked. You can imagine this by considering how a product shipped half way around the world, while being processed in several different locations along the way, can end up costing only a few dollars. Many times, the unfortunate reason is due to the fact that something or someone else has to pay the price, such as underpaid labor or misuse of natural environments. That is why purchasing “Fair Trade” or “Organic Certified” may cost more because it more than likely reflects a fair price for the product.

 
Volatile Organic Compound (VOC’s): VOC’s are carbon compounds that evaporate at room temperature and react in sunlight creating ground-level ozone, an integral component of photochemical smog. VOCs can cause respiratory, skin and eye irritation; headaches; nausea; muscle weakness; and more serious ailments and diseases.[3]

[1] Mumma, Tracy. January/February 1995. Reducing the Embodied Energy of Buildings. http://www.homeenergy.org/archive/hem.dis.anl.gov/eehem/95/950109.html. (Accessed July 30, 2008).
[2] Forest Stewardship Council. 1996. What is “certification”?. http://www.fscus.org/faqs/what_is_certification.php. (Accessed July 30, 2008).
[3] United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2007. Organic Gases (Volatile Organic Compounds – VOCs). http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html. (Accessed July 31, 2008).