The Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County

Green Glossary

ADAPTIVE REUSE - A process that adapts buildings for new uses rather than demolishing them.

AIR-QUALITY MANAGEMENT - The design and application of manufacturing and combustion processes to reduce air pollutant emissions to acceptable levels. Scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators, catalytic converters and various other processes are used to remove air pollutants from emissions before they’re released to the atmosphere.

ALTERNATIVE FUEL - All products or energy sources used to propel motor vehicles, other than conventional gasoline, diesel or reformulated gasoline. Alternative fuel includes but is not limited to cellulose, liquefied petroleum gas, liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas, biofuels, biodiesel fuel, E85 motor fuel, fuels containing 70 percent or more by volume of alcohol fuel, fuels that are derived from biomass, hydrogen fuel, anhydrous ammonia fuel, nonhazardous motor fuel or electricity (excluding onboard electric generation).

BIOFUEL - Produced from living organisms or from organic or food waste. In order to be considered a biofuel the fuel must contain more than 80 percent renewable materials. Includes but is not limited to biodiesel, ethanol, ethanol-blend fuels, and renewable liquid natural gas or liquid compressed natural gas made from biogas.

BIOLOGICAL COMPOSTING - Digestion processes to decompose organic matter (waste gas from this process can be captured and used for generating electricity). Techniques include anaerobic and aerobic digestion.

BIOMASS ENERGY - Biomass energy is derived from solid organic fuels from wood, forest or field residues or dedicated energy crops. It does not include energy derived from treated wood, black liquor byproduct from paper manufacture, or wood from old-growth forests. It does not include municipal solid waste, but may include landfill gas.

BIOREACTOR LANDFILLS - Adding liquid to landfills as a management technique to promote rapid waste decomposition.

BIOREMEDIATION AND PHYTOREMEDIATION - The use of plants and bacteria to break down soil contaminants. An extension of this technology is used to break down contaminants in water.

BUILDING DECONSTRUCTION - The selective dismantling of building components, specifically for re-use, recycling and waste management.

BUILDING ENERGY EFFICIENCIES - Designs, products and processes that directly lower energy use in buildings. Examples include high-performance building envelopes, high-efficiency cooling, heating and water-heating equipment, insulated pipes and ducts, passive-solar building designs, absorption chillers, natural ventilation, heat-recovery ventilation and hot-water heat recycling.


BUSINESS-SERVICES INDUSTRY - Consulting and support for increased business sustainability and capital resources for firms in the green economy such as financial services, marketing, sustainable business practices, carbon accounting, research and development.

CAP-AND-TRADE - Also known as Emissions Trading. A market-based approach to control pollution emitted by businesses.  Governments provide economic incentives to reduce pollutants (carbon, greenhouse gases, etc.) and set a limit or cap on the amount of a pollutant that can be emitted. The cap is allocated or sold to firms in the form of a permit to emit or discharge a specific volume of the specified pollutant. Firms are required to hold a number of permits (or credits) equivalent to their emissions. The total amount of permits cannot exceed the cap, limiting total emissions to that level. Firms that need to increase their emission permits must buy permits from those who require fewer permits. The transfer of permits is referred to as a trade. In effect, the buyer is paying a charge for polluting, while the seller is being rewarded for having reduced emissions. Thus, in theory, those who can reduce emissions most cheaply will do so, achieving the pollution reduction at the lowest cost to society.

CARBON ACCOUNTING - An accounting systems that calculates the size of a business’s carbon footprint, models alternative scenarios and monitors an organization’s ecological and carbon footprint.

CAREER LADDER - A career ladder shows jobs in a particular industry from entry level to management level.  A career ladder shows you how to move-up in your career from job to job, progressing from lower skill jobs to jobs that pay more and require more skill, responsibility or authority.  For example, moving from an entry level job to a middle skill job, then moving from a middle skill job to a professional position, then moving from a professional position to a management position, then finally moving from a management position to a senior or executive level position.

CHANGING - Retrofitting

CLEAN-ENERGY INDUSTRY - The generation and use of renewable and alternative fuels such as plant matter, solar power, wind power, wave power, geothermal power and tidal power. It usually also includes technologies that improve energy efficiency.

CLUSTER - A geographic concentration of interdependent competitive firms that do business with each other. It includes upstream suppliers or vendors of materials and equipment  - as well as downstream customers. A cluster also includes related entities like a city or county government, that shape the environment and regulations where the industry operates. Example: the four-county Clean Energy Technology Cluster located in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

COGENERATION - Produces electrical energy and another form of useful energy (such as steam) through the sequential use of energy.

COMPANY CULTURE - The shared values and practices of the company's employees.

CREATING LIQUID FUELS - Transforming solid carbon-based substances into liquid fuels through heat, cold, pressure, centrifuge, catalysts, vacuums or distillation.

DIRECT GREEN BUSINESSES - An entity that makes a product or service that protects the environment or provides a reliable source of energy.


DOCUMENTED PROCESSES - A process that is recognized in the industry; a known or accepted way of doing things.

DOMESTIC GRAY-WATER RECYCLING - Technology for recycling household waste water for reuse in gardening. Greywater is any household wastewater with the exception of wastewater from toilets, which is known as blackwater. Typically, 50-80% of household wastewater is greywater from kitchen sinks, dishwashers, bathroom sinks, tubs and showers.

ELECTRICAL STORAGE - Charged currents or magnets that store energy without the need for electrochemical or mechanical conversion.

EMISSIONS CONTROL - Standard-setting, monitoring and enforcement of levels of dust, noise and odor emissions to air and ground water, and discharge to sewers or waterways of all contaminants of concern.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY - Any reduction in power consumption resulting from increases in the efficiency of energy use, production or distribution without affecting the services provided

ENERGY IT SOFTWARE - Identifies energy waste in electrical or networking systems and prescribes ways to eliminate it. More-advanced software automates the waste-reduction process and works to optimize the distribution of energy around the system.

ENERGY EFFICIENT PRODUCTS - The design, manufacture and installation of appliances, heating and cooling systems, home electronics and lighting that provide significant energy savings. An international standard for energy-efficient consumer products is Energy Star.

ENTRY-LEVEL JOBS - A job normally designed for people with no or very little work experience, education or skills, or who has been out of the job market for awhile.

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENTS - Evaluation of historical uses of land or buildings, as well as sampling and chemical analysis, to determine pollutants and strategies for remediation.

ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS MOVEMENT - Businesses, people and issues related to green economy sectors like renewable energy, sustainable manufacturing and building, hybrid vehicles and mass transit, water conservation and waste management.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND REMEDIATION INDUSTRY - The prevention and reduction of environmental pollution, as well as efforts to lessen environmental pollution.

ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE - Will not unnecessarily drain natural resources (like wood and water), tries to reduce greenhouse gases and protects the environment.

ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION - A process in which a damaged natural resource is renewed biologically, structurally and functionally.

ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE PROCESSES - To conduct business in a way that will not drain natural resources (like wood and water), tries to reduce greenhouse gases and protects the environment.

EXTRACTING HYDROGEN - By natural-gas steam methane reforming, a process in which high-temperature steam is mixed with natural gas under pressure with a catalyst to produce hydrogen, carbon monoxide and a relatively small amount of carbon dioxide.

FINANCIAL SERVICES - A broad range of organizations that deal with the management of money like banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, consumer finance companies, stock brokerages, investment funds and some government sponsored enterprises.

GENERIC MATERIALS AND PARTS - Materials like composites, plastics, wood, metal or cloth; parts like photovoltaic light cells, turbine blades and windows

GEOTHERMAL ENERGY - Energy generated by heat stored beneath the earth’s surface or absorbed in the atmosphere and oceans. Geothermal and ground-source heat pumps are typically used to heat and cool buildings; steam can be used to drive electric turbines.

GLOBAL WARMING - The increase in the average temperature of Earth's air and oceans

GREEN BUILDING MATERIALS - Non-toxic, reusable, renewable and/or recyclable building materials. Ideally, green building materials are extracted and manufactured locally to the building site to minimize the energy embedded in their transportation.

GREEN ECONOMY - The green economy is rooted in the development and use of products and services that promote environmental protection and/or energy security.

GREEN JOBS - Jobs in the primary (or direct) industries of a green economy that promote environmental protection and/or energy security.

GREEN TRANSPORTATION INDUSTRY - The development of sustainable transportation products or systems with an emphasis on human power, renewable energy or alternative energy, designed to reduce the use of petroleum-fueled vehicles and engines and single-occupancy vehicles.

GREEN BUILDING INDUSTRY - Increasing the efficiency with which buildings use resources (energy, water and materials) and reducing the effects on human health and the environment during the building’s lifecycle through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance and removal.

GREEN WASHING - A deceptive public relations or marketing promotion that misleads people to believe a company policy or product is environmentally friendly.

GREEN SHEEN - Describes organizations that attempt to show that they are adopting practices beneficial to the environment.

HABITATS - Home, surrounding

HIGHER-SKILL LEVEL JOBS - require at least a four-year degree (sometimes more) and several years of work-related experience and on-the-job training.  Examples of professional-level jobs include engineer, architect and chemist.


HYBRID VEHICLES - Vehicles that use petroleum fuels in conjunction with other energy sources, generally electricity.

IMPACT - Effect

INDIRECT GREEN BUSINESS - Make green generic materials and parts that are used to make solar panels, smart electrical grids and energy efficient buildings.  Other indirect green companies provide services like carbon accounting, chemical engineering or market research to the “direct” green businesses.

INDUCED GREEN BUSINESSES - These businesses are a result of, or are caused when people who work for green sector businesses spend their wages to purchase products and consumer services.  Induced jobs are found in retail, wholesale, clerical, administrative and government sectors.

INDUSTRIAL GREY-WATER RECYCLING - Technology for recycling waste water from construction sites and commercial installations. This water can be reused for onsite sanitation, equipment cleaning and high-pressure water uses.

INDUSTRIAL WASTEWATER TREATMENT - Treatment of waters that have been contaminated in some way by industrial or commercial activities prior to their release into the environment or re-use.

INDUSTRY - A specific grouping of firms with highly similar business activities. Example: the renewable-energy industry.   Also called a sector

INTEGRATED COMMUNICATION - Broadband-bearing power lines allow for real-time data transfer and efficient asset allocation, load switching and monitoring of multiple power sources feeding into the grid.

INTEGRATED MINI FUEL CELLS AND DIRECT LIQUID-FUEL CELLS - These devices store fuel in more compact forms, such as sodium borohydride or methanol, and are aimed at portable electronic devices.

INTELLIGENT TRANSPORTATION MANAGEMENT - The application of strategies and policies to reduce travel demand or to redistribute the demand in space or in time. This includes managing vehicles, loads and routes to improve transportation times and fuel consumption through the use of electronic toll collection, congestion pricing, emergency-vehicle notification systems, intelligent speed adaptation, automatic road enforcement, sensing technologies, etc.

JOB READY - A person who has a sense of responsibility, basic presentation, listening, communication and literacy skills; positive attitude, strong work ethic, arrives at work on time -- consistently, and has the ability to work independently and as part of a team

JOB RETRAINING - or adding skills is the next best opportunity to move into a green sector, a green job, or up the career ladder.  Retraining is the process of learning (‘adding) a new skill or trade.  This can take anywhere from a few days to a few months

LANDSCAPING - The use of trees, plants, hedges or trellises to selectively create summer shading and create shelter from winter wind chill. Xeriscaping is used to reduce or eliminate the need for energy- and water-intensive irrigation. Landscaping architecture also is used to help manage storm water, with techniques such as rain gardens, green roofs and treatment wetlands.

LEED DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION AND CERTIFICATION - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the nationally accepted standard for designing and constructing green buildings. LEED qualifications focus on sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

LIVING WAGE - The minimum hourly wage you will need to pay for housing, clothes and food without any help from the government, your church or family.  Self Sufficiency Calculator for Washington State

MARKETING - Branding, communication strategies related to the green economy, promotion of new sustainable products, and stakeholder outreach for public organizations.

MICRO-HYDROELECTRIC ENERGY - Micro-hydro serves an individual, a small community or a single industrial plant. Most micro-hydroelectric power comes from dammed water driving a water turbine and generator.

MIDDLE-SKILL JOBS - Requires more education than high school, but less than a four-year degree. These jobs are well within reach for lower-skilled and entry-level workers as long as they can attend training programs and are ‘job ready”.

NEW JOBS - Jobs that did not previously exist

NON-TOXIC - Safe, harmless

PETROLEUM-FREE VEHICLES - Vehicles that do not use fuel made from crude oil. For example, battery electric cars, 100 percent biofueled vehicles, hydrogen vehicles and compressed-air vehicles.


PRODUCT DESIGN - Designing products to minimize waste and maximize resources. Reducing the number of components used in a product or making the product easier to take apart to aid in repair or recycling.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, PUBLIC TRANSIT OR MASS TRANSIT - The design, construction and management of systems in which passengers do not travel in their own vehicles. This includes rail and bus services and scheduled ferries. In this definition, passengers of public transportation are traveling within a local area or region between their homes and places of employment, shopping or school.

RECYCLE - The process of extracting resources or value from waste by recovering or reusing the material. This may include the collection and reuse of everyday waste materials.


REMEDIATION - The removal of pollution or contaminants from soil, ground water, sediment, surface water or buildings for the general protection of human health and the environment or to return a brownfield site to redevelopment.

RENEWABLE ENERGY - Energy supplied by sources that are naturally and continuously replenished, without being depleted.

RENEWABLE RESOURCES - Energy supplied by sources that are naturally and continuously refilled without being used-up like solar, wind or wave energy

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT - Future-oriented work in science or technology, undertaken on a systematic basis, to increase knowledge and devise new commercial applications for green products and services.

RESOURCE-EFFICIENT - Uses less energy

RETROFITTING - Adding new technology or features to older systems

SECTOR - A group of industries with similar business processes, products or services, such as construction or health services, as categorized by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Example: the construction sector = NAICS codes 23


SEWAGE TREATMENT - Removing contaminants from waste water, both runoff (effluents) and domestic. It includes physical, chemical and biological processes to remove physical, chemical and biological contaminants.

SMART GRID - Describes innovations to the energy network, such as the addition of electronics and ‘intelligence” to manage the generation, distribution and consumption of electricity.

SMART GROWTH - An urban-planning and transportation theory that concentrates growth in the center of a city to create compact, transit-oriented land use.

SOLAR ENERGY - The radiant energy of the sun converted into other forms of energy like heat or electricity. This includes but is not limited to photovoltaic, concentrating solar power, solar water heating and nanopower technology (nanoscale solar-power generation as well as the use of nanocrystalline particles to manufacture silicon photovoltaic panels.

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE - The combination of three main goals--Environmental Health (prevent topsoil depletion, groundwater contamination), Economic Profitability (keep down the costs of production), and Social and Economic Equity (living and working conditions for farm laborers, prevent the failure of family farms and rural communities).

SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS PRACTICES - The development, execution and auditing of a business’s operating procedures; driven by sustainability performance metrics, cost-saving actions and greenhouse-gas reduction targets.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT - When builders, architects, designers, community planners and real estate developers strive to create buildings and communities that will not deplete natural resources. Sustainable development attempts to minimize greenhouse gases and preserve environmental resources.

TECHNOLOGY RECYCLING - A process to separate and recycle hazardous component parts found in electronic devices like computers, televisions, telephones, printers.

TIDAL ENERGY - Tides are generated in bodies of water by the relative motion of the earth, sun and moon. Strategically placed tidal turbines use the water currents to generate energy.

TRAINING PROGRAMS - Trade union-sponsored apprenticeships or two-year colleges are good places to find the training needed for these jobs.

TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT - The application of strategies and policies to design residential or commercial areas that maximize access to public transport and lead to mixed-use, compact neighborhoods that use public transportation at all times of the day.

TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE - People, Planet, Profit.  The addition of social and environmental values to the traditional economic measures of a corporation or organization's success.

WASTE - Trash, garbage, junk

WASTE MANAGEMENT - The collection, transport, processing, recycling or disposal of waste materials. The term usually relates to materials produced by human activity.

WASTE MANAGEMENT AND RECYCLING - Techniques to reduce, reuse or recycle waste. Techniques to recycle products and convert used materials into new products.

WASTE REDUCTION - Processes and products to extract the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste.

WASTE-TO-ENERGY - Any waste treatment that creates energy in the form of electricity or heat from a waste source. Such technologies reduce or eliminate waste that otherwise would be transferred to a landfill.

WATER CONSERVATION AND TREATMENT - Products, processes and activities that ensure safe drinking water, maintain oceans and watersheds, and provide healthy aquatic habitats for humans, fish, plants and wildlife.

WATER MANAGEMENT - Equipment and applications designed to monitor water quality and distribution. Especially useful for systems combining treatment, purification and desalination (the removal of salt).

WATER PURIFICATION - Advanced technologies for eliminating contaminants and impurities in water. Newer technologies focus on purifying water without modifying its flavor or nutritional content.

WATERSHEDS - A drainage basin that funnels water into one place.

WAVE ENERGY - Capturing the energy of ocean surface waves to do useful work. Wave-power devices extract energy directly from surface waves or from pressure fluctuations below the surface.

WEATHERIZATION - The preservation of a house, apartment or building through energy and resource conservation, efficiency retrofits, energy-related repairs, indoor air quality, health and safety investments (carbon monoxide detection and prevention, lead-based paint identification), and client education.

WIND ENERGY - Using wind turbines to convert wind energy into a useful purpose, such as generating electricity or pumping water.